Discuss the role of Housing Associations in delivering housing and regenerating housing estates and areas. To what extent should Housing Associations be more than housing providers?
The first section of this essay will give a brief historical background to the origins of Housing Associations and philanthropic intervention within housing provision. The second section will address the role of the Housing Corporation in monitoring the role of housing associations. Section three will address issues of socially excluded groups and subsequent sections will address the effects of globalisation, politics and demography within social housing – and the regeneration of housing estates and areas. The final section will look at the constraints of housing Foyers and associations and will debate the expanding role of housing associations questioning the extent to which housing associations should be more than housing providers.
The origins of Housing Associations
Housing Associations have their origins in the twelfth century. However, Philanthropic activity became more evident from the eighteenth century when the ongoing issues of famine, ill health, overcrowding, homelessness, unemployment and squalor were rife throughout Britain. The condition was exasperated by the lack of interest shown by the government and the wealthy. Social reformers such as Samuel Peabody donated £150,000 into providing homes for the destitute. This praiseworthy gesture assisted but failed to eliminate the homeless crisis that ravaged the working classes. In her book Built to Last, (Grant 1992) speaks about the person centred approach of Octavia Hill a wealthy property owner who in the 1880s operated from a stance of professional Helper. Hill attempted to provide a service that extended beyond the sole role of housing provider to that of a Social landlord. She believed in the rehabilitation of people as well as properties and utilised the opportunity to personally collect rent and offer her tenants cleaning, building & maintenance employment, housing management advice and support which she seemingly viewed as an opportunity to impart a sense of self respect and responsibility. She seemed to be of the opinion that housing and tenants could not be addressed separately but holistically. (Grant p.20).
This fundamental approach is essentially the key to the regeneration of housing estates and areas in the twenty first century. In order for regenerative work to be successfully maintained, a set of guidelines and principles must be in place to ensure that the housing problem is being tackled effectively. This leads to the role of the Housing Corporation
The housing Corperation
The role of the Housing Corporation in regeneration is to ensure that taxpayer’s money is managed and spent effectively, efficiently and economically. They provide the finances to housing associations and require that all housing providers are registered and operate within They are also responsible for ensuring that RSL (Resident Social Landlords) comply with Audit Commission guidelines that stipulate and promote tenant participation, capacity building and empowerment in order to make their views heard regarding the management of their homes and to influence policies that affect their lives. Essentially, their overall aim is to minimalise social exclusion, ensure that housing is affordable, and build strong communities. www.housingcorp.gov.uk. The NFHA 1995 (national Federation of Housing Associations) p.1 states that housing associations should only manage estates where basic facilities and good transport links are provided. In other words, the idea of regeneration is to increase accessibility to public services and to reduce isolation which breeds exclusion. There are several factors that affect the role of housing providers in regeneration, namely politics, globalisation, and demography.
The common factors that existed between the 1880s and the present time is that housing associations are non-profit making organisations, have various titles such as trusts, charities and co-operatives and essentially are altruistic. All are required to be registered and monitored and are accountable to the Audit Commission who is responsible for ensuring that tax-payers money is protected and spent economically, effectively and efficiently.
The core and expanding role of housing associations and the effects of demography.
The core role of housing associations was originally to provide adequate homes for low-income families. Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, there was further development of high-rise council estates which was built to house low-income families. This did little to quell or include the housing needs of socially excluded groups such as single people, pensioners, minorities, the disabled and lone parent families. Other urban issues such as health were more prominent on government agenda. However, Conservatives 1979 election attempted to alter the perspective of social housing and the welfare state with the view of individualism and self-provision as opposed to state dependency. The cessation of new build and the introduction of housing schemes as shared ownership, Homebuy and the selling off of council properties were hoping to usher in a sense of independence and ultimate vision were of a nation of homeowners, privatisation of services and CCT (Compulsory Competitive Tendering). Presently the role of housing associations not only includes housing provision but regeneration initiatives. They provide a range of services which include training and employment opportunites for the low-paid, community safety, health, education.
Arguments for and against Housing Associations
Arguments against the roles of Housing associations and constraints and challenges faced by them. as providers of housing is still seemingly an issue today as it was in the eighteenth century. White questions in (Grant 1992 pp.4-5) the role of Philanthropists and Semi-Philanthropists where he asked
“Was Philanthropic response a genuine response to housing need or a hard headed use of capital to quell working class unrest?
These cyclical issues bear a somewhat striking resemblance to the 1980s urban riots which emerged as a result of an attitude that silently assumed that problems would be resolved independent of state intervention or laissez faire on part of the government. (Malpass and Murie 1999) quote Tory argument who believed in personal responsibility and self -provision as opposed to what they felt Britain was a culture of dependency to: “State intervention as the cause of housing problems rather than the solution
Since New labours 1997 election, the notion of rights and responsibility have been at the forefront of the government agenda. Malpass and Murie 1999 further argue on pp 101-2, the Housing Act 1988 which included the provision of housing providers to give their tenants the right to choose their landlords. Local Authorities desire to maintain an influence on Housing associations but housing Associations want to maintain their autonomy, Central Government funding is sometimes insufficient to maintain existing programmes and initiatives. In some instances such as with CP estate, the negotiation of further funding has to take place in order to preserve the sustainable communities achieved via funding. Chief Executive for Clapham park describes the allocated funds as a “drop in the ocean” (Johnson. A 2006)
Arguments for Housing Associations
is the emphasis on them by the government to provide housing by investment via the NFHS (National Federation of Housing Societies) to provide loans for non-profit making organisations to provide new housing. Malpass and Murie 1999 p. 73-4) Local Authority increased its support to enable HA to rehabilitate and convert existing council properties and by the transference of completed estate sites for development and rehabilitation. (Balchin 1995 pp146-7) confirms that research by the Housing Corporation showed that Housing Associations had a better record than Local Authorities at helping the elderly, single people, unemployed families, minority groups. It seemed that government housing agenda of the day chief concerns was to re-house families as a household was considered or consisted of husband wife and two point four children. Demography in terms of mass urbanisation, or divorce was not taken into account that’s why the excluded groups as above mentioned were sidelined. www.nfpi.org.uk press release December 2005 speaks about how demography and new working patterns are affecting British households, for example, one in five children live in single parent homes. Housing associations were now seen as the “principle agents of urban renewal” Malpass and Murie 1999 pp.146-7. Neighbourhood management involve and integrated set of principles that involve Social Services and Education bodies. This ensures that all key players in regeneration are working jointly to reduce homelessness by dealing and communicating with each other to address issues of ASB Anti sociable behaviour, human economical and social capital. Malpass and Murie further encourage the holistic regenerative approach due to the synergy brought about as resources could focus on problems which usually had multiple origins.
Or furthermore goes as far as to question the term humanitarianism which Grant feels does not exclude self interest as the upper classes of the 1880s main interest was mainly focussed around the five percent profit that they made out of housing the poor.
Arguments for Housing Associations
The role of Housing Associations is to provide and run their properties economically, efficiently and effectively. Economically to ensure that rents are accessible to low-income households, efficiently in terms of repairs and adequate structures that allow for adequate ventilation and space effectively with the main beneficiaries being the tenants and their right to peaceable enjoyment of their homes. (P.1 grant 1992) Local Authorities were sidelined as providers of social housing by the private sector and were given the job of filling the large gap in provision. This was due to the fact that the Conservative parties cessation of new build social housing and placing the responsibility of housing upon the citizen and thus reduce state dependency.
Housing Associations should be more than housing providers as urban problems are multi-faceted. (Malpass 2005) suggests;
Housing Associations do not confine themselves to the sole position of providing housing as some are also involved in the provision of care homes. Metropolitan for example state that they go beyond bricks and mortar to provide the quality support that nurtures thriving communities”. www.mhp-online.co.uk.1 .the definition of regeneration can be described in terms of /as a comprehensive approach that tackles the socio-economic, environmental aspects of society. It is an integrated approach with a single vision through coordinated programmes. The fundamental principle that underpins sustainable communities is;
“that everyone should have the opportunity of a decent home at a price they can afford in a place which they want to live and work”. www.communites.gov.uk.
In order to make lasting change within communities, a detailed area gap analysis of specific area needs should be carried out that can target particular issues with precision. (Roberts and Sykes 2000). A detailed analysis will consider key factors and devise individually tailored packages to suit particular neighbourhoods. In other words the one size fits all philosophy should be non applicable as the true picture of community composition will vary greatly. Although some urban communities experience the same issues, their response and profile will vary according to race, age, employment status, social capital. (CHANGE THIS(
Regeneration can be defined as an interventionist an strategic method of bringing about lasting change by promoting sustainable communities to the physical, environmental and socio-economic status to areas stigmatised by ill health, high educational underachievement, high unemployment and crime. It seeks to bring about improving the fabric of areas through joined-up interdependent working with the private, public, voluntary and community sectors. In terms of regeneration of areas and estates, I will draw from an example from the Clapham Park Estate in South London. This particular estate was notorious for high crime, low educational attainment, structural disrepair, high levels of unemployment and drug dealing. Residents on this particular estate were very disillusioned about their estate and felt ignored by the government who had as quoted by Keith Hill MP “regeneration tourism” to describe the ad hoc approach hurriedly taken by previous governments to address issues on the estate. The Home is where the heart is DVD showcased CP residents accounts of their housing situations making mention of damp, disrepair and neglect of the estate. The turning point for CP came for Clapham £56 million was invested by the DCLG department for Communities and local Government to regenerate the area by creating training and educational opportunities as well as partnership working with the PCT (Primary Care Trust) to tackle and address ill health, the metropolitan police to deal with crime and the establishment of residential and Board members and Stakeholders neighbourhood management and stock transference. MHP (Metropolitan Housing Partnership) became the SRL (Social Registered landlords) by vote of the CP (Clapham Park) residents. These homes are being renovated to the Decent Homes standard 2010. For example, Metropolitan Care and repair which was set up to help the most vulnerable such as the elderly and disabled by improving and adapting their homes to improve accessibility, installing anti-burglary devices and gardening schemes. In partnership with the NRU (Neighbourhood Renewal Unit) who aims to
“Improve the quality of life for those living in disadvantaged areas that experience poor job prospects, high crime levels, educational underachievement, poor health and problems with their local environment”. www.communites.gov.uk. In an interview conducted with Denise Adolphe 2006 Communications and marketing manager of the CPP (Clapham Park Project), the issue of the hard to reach was addressed. Since the stock transfer in 2005, MHP has attempted to increase social capital by the method of mixed tenure to help low income households own their homes through shared ownership. This enables the buyer to purchase their homes in increments of between twenty-five to a hundred percent shares by stair casing. This gives the tenant the choice of owning a percentage of their property and part renting, or stair casing until they own the property outright at one-hundred percent. Social capital can be achieved by Partnership with financial institutions such as The Credit Union helps low earners to have access to low interest loans and savings. These groups will other wise be overlooked by the major high street bank due to their income or the post code lottery.
NFHA 1995 (National Federation of Housing associations) p.v.1 Housing associations should only manage estates were they can be integrated with the surrounding areas where basic facilities are provided and there are good transport links. These are important to avoid isolation of communities which works in total opposition to cohesiveness. This begs the question, or questions the methods and engagement strategies used to reach entire communities. To make lasting and effective change customers must be made aware of the choices available to them via capacity building, consultation and awareness. Key actors in regeneration need to be aware of barriers that may hinder resident participation such as language, race, religion, MHP for example work according to Audit commission |guidelines which stipulate the importance of resident participation. They provide a free phone service where residents could enquire about free capacity building workshops and various forms of training focussed around tenant participation. The Lorrimore Centre in Southwark South London experienced numerous failed attempts at reaching the black community. They realised that their traditional method of leafleting was not working so they adapted their outreach strategy by holding information stalls at local events where they actually engaged in one-to-one conversations with residents finding out their reasons why they were not utilising the service, conducting qualitative research. These strategies gained a positive response.
The role of Housing Association is to make areas and estates communities where people want to live and work and feel safe. There are various means of regenerating areas for example, by building shopping centres, improving transport links, positive press coverage to assist in the minimalisation of stigmatisation of particular areas, altering the fabric of areas by erecting trees, preserving nature and national heritage to help the area become attractive and inviting.
“People want to live in mixed communities which offer decent housing, jobs, good public services, transport and a local environment to be proud of” (Prescott 2004). Areas need to be inviting and opened up not closed off causing isolation. The benefits of urban regeneration should not only benefit the locals but should be far reaching nationwide. www.westhendon.com are regenerating a new housing scheme. in order to make the area accessible, around 680 homes were surrounded by the gyratory system along the A5. Traffic lights had to be relocated and additions made, more bus routes were introduced, as were pedestrian bridges to allow access to leisure and amenities as well as nature reserves and other public services. Thoughtful Planning and thorough investigation into the area must be taken into account when regenerating areas, local issues around suitability in relation to new build. As buildings alter the physical appearance of areas.