Frustration can take people down many different routes into business, and for one enterprising Derry woman it has led to foundations being laid for 25 new ‘micro-homes’ in Belfast.
Dearbhaile Heaney (30) was so fed up trying to secure a foothold on the property ladder herself that she decided to set up ‘The Holding Project‘ which aims to build low-cost, sustainable housing for people trapped in the prohibitive private rental market in the city.
Last week, along with fellow ‘Holding’ team members, Queen’s University researcher Sean Cullen and student architect Chris Millar, she launched a crowdfunding drive to raise £30,000 to fund the first prototype home.
The project’s bank balance has already been boosted by a ‘Building Futures’ award of £5,000 from UnLtd, the leading provider of support to social entrepreneurs in the UK, and also by a cheque for £1,000 from the Social Housing Enterprise Award Scheme run by the Housing Executive.
And by last week Dearbhaile – who works with the Prince’s Trust as an enterprise executive – had raised another £2,000 towards her final target.
“The crowdfunding initiative is just the start, although I am delighted we have raised over five per cent of the amount so far,” she said.
“We are determined that the money will be raised by some means, whether through private backers or public grants.
“There is such a groundswell of positivity surrounding this project and such phenomenal feedback from people who want – need – it to succeed, that it keeps us going.”
Frustration also keeps her going, as she is still on the rental loop like many young professionals her age.
“There are so many young professionals, particularly in Belfast, who are currently unable to buy their own home and having to rent in order to work and having to work in order to pay the rent,” she said.
“I was one of them – and still am. I have spent eight years working and renting accommodation in Dublin, Belfast and Derry, wherever I was working at the time, and many others in the 20-40 age bracket are in exactly the same frustrating position.
“At the Holding Project, we are aiming to break that cycle and give people, who don’t have access to the ‘Bank of mum and dad’, the chance to get a ‘leg up’.”