YMCA Blackburn historically provided supported accommodation and programmes for vulnerable young people and asylum seekers.
In October 2016, the Board decided to transfer YMCA Blackburn’s activities to another YMCA. The decision was taken to enable YMCA Blackburn to transform into Y:Housing, a support vehicle to help YMCAs across the country to respond to an attractive but challenging opportunity.
That opportunity was presented by the national YMCA body, YMCA England & Wales, disposing of all their housing stock. As most of their stock was managed by individual local YMCAs, YMCA England offered those YMCAs a first option to purchase at a 45% discount.
YMCA England set a March 2018 deadline to complete the sales and, due to Homes England (HE) grants attached to the properties, only HE-registered providers can purchase them. However, most YMCAs were not registered and had no prospect of achieving registration the time and capacity.
If the individual YMCAs could not meet the deadline, the 45% discount would have been rescinded and the properties placed on the open market, which risked them leaving the YMCA Movement.
To protect and grow the social impact the YMCA network delivers through its housing footprint, YMCA Blackburn – which was a HE registered provider, would re-brand as Y:Housing and raise the investment required to purchase the properties and then lease them back to individual YMCAs under standard management agreement arrangements.
In following years Y: Housing provided a vehicle for YMCAs to retain the management of their schemes. To date 7 individual YMCAs with 252 units of accommodation have been supported, with a further 40 units being built for Bolton YMCA, 5 units being built for Fylde Coast YMCA and a number of further developments in the pipeline for 2022 for other YMCAs.