Homes on the roof

Homes on the Roof

We had planning consent to build 15 new low-carbon, affordable eco homes on the roof of our city centre office. By utilising free land – the air space – on the roof of our charity’s office and retail space at Backfields House, the idea was for Emmaus Bristol to create a new rooftop community. This was to include 11 one-bedroom two storey homes, 3 two-bedroom single storey homes, 1 one-bedroom single story home, and food growing and shared amenity space. This project is on hold for now, as when our project managers looked into buildings costs, it proved to be too expensive, and there was uncertainty over the engineering needed to support the new build. Our rooftop and our city centre location remains an opportunity we’d love to make use of one day, especially as our companions really liked the idea of moving on into an affordable flat while remaining connected to the Emmaus Bristol community.

The demand for new homes is certainly there! In 2022/3 we were at 92% occupancy, with gaps only when the team were redecorating and processing referrals. We had 85 referrals in 2023 up from 36 the previous year. Companions moving into paid work can get stuck, unable to find a private rental tenancy.

“We offer more than just a bed for the night. When someone joins our Emmaus Bristol community, they work full-time in our shops to gain new skills and build up their CV, and receive daily support, mentoring and training so they can rebuild their life. There is no time limit on the support we provide, and people can stay with us for as long as they need, whether that is a few months or years.”


“The aim of our rooftop development (and our existing move on homes) is to give people the option to live independently when they are ready to, but still keep them connected to Emmaus Bristol and the support we can provide.”

Paul Smith visit

“Some of the people we support eventually and understandably want their own home and their own independence, but then struggle to find affordable rented homes to move into or meet significant barriers to private rented accommodation such as cost, competition, credit ratings and references.” Jessica Hodge, Chief Executive.

A new community house

With Shaftesbury House full almost all of the time, and increasing demand from people wanted to become an Emmaus Bristol companion, we also need to open a new community house.

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