DOZENS of new climate-friendly modular homes for Essex rough sleepers could be ready by early 2025 as part of an ambitious £2.7million charity project – if the final part of funding can be found by March 2024.

The 24 self-contained units would be based at a CHESS Homeless facility in Chelmsford and provide invaluable support to some of the county’s most vulnerable residents.

Central to the development will be the use of renewable energy sources, while six ground floor units will be tailored with ramps and facilities for those with disabilities and serious health conditions.

Government and local authority backing along with generous private donations mean there is a funding shortfall of just £475,000, and CHESS CEO Rob Saggs has urged any potential benefactors to get in touch ahead of their springtime deadline.

He explained: “The benefits of this project in helping some of Essex’s most vulnerable residents cannot be overstated.

“Our existing housing stock consists of House of Multiple Occupancy accommodation but access to this type of a private and independent living space will allow those we help to more effectively address the issues that saw them become homeless in the first place.

“We are so grateful for all of the support we have already received as it has taken us so tantalisingly close to our target and are now praying for some community-focused heroes to step forward and take us over the finish line.”

CHESS purchased the facility in 2022 and it has nine self-contained units, a large communal space and an office for an outreach team which provides 24/7 support for service users.

Talks with a national construction firm and planning authority are already underway over the proposal to demolish those nine units and replace them with the 24 energy-efficient modular homes, which come with a 60-year guarantee.

More than half of funding is from the government’s Single Homelessness Accommodation Programme (SHAP) and is dependent on the project being completed by March 2025.

Chelmsford-based CHESS helps single homeless adults whose lives have been devastated by issues such as poor mental health, substance abuse and a lack of affordable housing, and also supports women fleeing domestic abuse.

It supports vulnerable people from the local authority areas of Braintree, Maldon, Epping Forest, Rochford, Castle Point, Uttlesford, Brentwood and Chelmsford.

In the year to April 2023, CHESS housed 153 people in desperate need and worked with partners to prevent 149 becoming homeless in the first place.

Its total bed capacity for the county increased from 49 to 66 in 2022 and the new development would take it to 79.

For further information, call CHESS Homeless on 01245 281104 or email [email protected]