DASH specialises in providing accommodation and support for homeless people and people at risk of homelessness. DASH will continue to deliver that vitally important service, but the charity has also founded a new development arm which offers affordable, general needs housing.
The name DASH have chosen for their new affordable housing trading arm, ‘Kepier Homes’, was inspired by the history of the former Kepier Hospital, see photo below. The ruined gatehouse of Kepier Hospital lies beside the River Wear, a short walk from Gilesgate, where our headquarters is located.
Kepier Hospital was founded at Gilesgate by Bishop of Durham Ranulf Flambard in 1112AD before being re-founded at Kepier, next to the River Wear, by Bishop Hugh le Puiset around 1180. It hosted Edward I during one of his journeys north, but was dissolved by Henry VIII. The hospital gatehouse remains standing.
The hospital originally functioned as an almshouse for older men in housing need and later it also provided accommodation for travellers and pilgrims to Durham Cathedral – “for the keeping of the poor who enter the same hospital”. It was dedicated to God and St Giles, the patron saint of beggars and cripples. The first hospital chapel (now St Giles Church, Gilesgate) was dedicated in June 1112.
The location and function of the former hospital fits well with the ethos of our charitable work and also reflects an evocative local and historical connection with our base in Durham City.
Kepier Homes will build or redevelop properties to provide affordable homes for families or single people across County Durham.
The launch of DASH’s development arm comes after the charity achieved ‘Registered Provider of Social Housing’ status with Homes England in March 2020. Social housing gives people a home, it’s cheaper to rent than privately rented housing and usually provides a long-term tenancy, giving renters the chance to put down roots.
Being a Registered Provider of Social Housing will be an extension to the work the charity already does in providing accommodation and support for homeless people and people at risk of homelessness. This excellent service will continue to be delivered and will be unaffected by the development of an affordable housing arm to the organisation.
Kepier Homes first venture was to extend DASH’s headquarters at Hudson House to create four self-contained flats for affordable rent. DASH has been based at Hudson House, formerly the Lord Gort pub, in Gilesgate, Durham City, since 2017. Part of the existing building has been converted to flats.
DASH successfully applied to Durham County Council for Commuted Sums funding and also secured Homes England funding to support the conversion of the first floor and part of the ground floor to provide 4no. 1 bed. self-contained flats which have been let at affordable rent.
The accommodation that DASH provides at Hudson House is let in accordance with DASH’s allocation policy with a strong emphasis on local connection. Local people are welcome to apply for the flats which are now available to let. DASH advertise properties in line with Durham County Council’s Key Options and the County Council do have some nomination rights.
“Our expansion into general needs affordable housing, and the launch of Kepier Homes, is a natural progression for us.”
“We could not do any of this without our fantastic staff, trustees, volunteers and partners and we are very grateful for everyone’s ongoing support and dedication.”
DASH is currently recruiting for new trustees and more volunteers. For more information about this please visit our Volunteers page.