New fund will boost house building and regeneration.
A new £25 million fund will provide an estimated 500 new affordable homes specifically to rural areas across Scotland.
The Rural Housing Fund will increase supply of long term affordable housing in rural areas over the next three years, by assisting the building of new homes and refurbishment of existing buildings. The homes will contribute to the Scottish Government's commitment to build 50,000 new homes across Scotland over the next five years, backed by £3bn.
The fund is open to a wide range of applicants, including long-established affordable housing providers, and also community-led organisations and private landowners, enabling them to take a more active role in meeting the housing needs of their community.
In addition to providing support toward the capital costs of housing projects, the fund will offer much needed feasibility support to enable organisations to develop robust plans for their projects.
Mrs Burgess said:
"I'm delighted to announce this new fund today, enabling up to an estimated 500 new homes to be built or refurbished in rural areas. Good quality, affordable housing is essential to help attract and retain people in Scotland's remote and rural communities.
"We are committed to improving lives across all areas of Scotland by making sure homes are affordable, attractive, and warm.
"We know building affordable housing in rural areas presents different challenges compared to urban areas which is why we are ensuring this fund is open to rural interests, including community bodies, private landlords and landowners."
Derek Logie, Chief Executive of Rural Housing Scotland, said:
"Affordable rural housing is critical to sustaining and developing our rural communities. The Rural Housing Fund has the potential to offer a huge boost to the delivery of affordable rural housing and we are delighted that the Scottish Government has demonstrated its commitment to rural Scotland with this announcement.
"We are particularly pleased that community organisations can apply to the fund and access feasibility support. Developing affordable rural housing has many challenges: we hope the Rural Housing Fund will help rural communities to overcome these and deliver good quality, warm and affordable housing."
The Minister announced the fund while visiting an affordable housing project in Friockheim, near Angus, today. The project has delivered affordable housing as part of a surplus council asset site, and converted an old school building into a community hub.
Further information on the Rural Housing Fund can be found at http://bit.ly/ruralhousingfund
A £4m loan fund, the Highland Self Build pilot, is also now open for applications. The initiative offers finance to eligible applicants wishing to build a home in the Highland Council area. The result of the pilot will be used to inform future policy for self build support in Scotland.