This paper explores two sector-based case studies of social innovation in community-led housing that have taken root in the last ten years: community land trusts (CLTs) set up to ensure access to affordable homes in perpetuity and self-help housing organisations set up to bring empty homes back into use. These innovations benefit from a groundswell of support, as their specialised local focus and people-centre approach to housing has strong resonance with policy agendas of localism and community empowerment in England. Yet to take root such innovations need more than rhetorical support; they require practical and ideological strengthening to secure flows of resources and legitimacy required for survival alongside professionalised and better resourced forms of organisation. This paper compares the forms of support provided by intermediary organisations that have been used to facilitate the growth and diffusion of these community-led housing models. It describes how the CLT sector has scaled up to create a formal institutional framework operating at different spatial scales to support locally-rooted community groups and considers the implications of this for the self-help housing sector, which has shown a preference for ‘viral’ solutions that focus on small-scale projects and community leadership. While intermediary support is clearly of importance, there are tensions in its provision, as sectors that scale up may begin to question local independence and dilute community ethos, while viral solutions may face challenges in accessing technical skills and resources without becoming overburdened or diverted from initial objectives. The paper concludes that while partnerships with technical experts that act as intermediaries may be crucial for the diffusion and expansion of CLTs and self-help housing, there are tensions in accessing technical skills and resources in a manner that maintains the local scale, accountability and unique added value of community-led housing
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