Best of the web: a year in housing
The Guardian’s Housing Network has reviewed its first year of operation and has picked their ‘blogs of the year’, including one from Red Brick.
On their own housing network blog, Hannah Fearn writes:
“To celebrate our first birthday, we pick our favourite news, views and analysis from the housing blogosphere this year. From the resurgence of right-to-buy and the media maelstrom over the housing strategy to campaigning over the impact of housing benefit reform, it’s been a turbulent year for the housing sector. There has been much for writers, bloggers and housing professionals to deliberate over during our first year as a professional network. To celebrate our first birthday, we select our favourite posts from around the web.”
10 October 2011: ‘Welfare reform – there is a choice’, David Orr for the National Housing Federation blog
This post could have come at any time during the last nine month debate over welfare and public spending cuts, but it proved poignant as welfare minister Lord Freud faced growing criticism over the impact of his reforms on the most marginalised communities.
“The problem is that the reality of the debt has become an excuse to make decisions which will have profoundly bad consequences for some of the poorest people in our society,” argued David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation. “The very people the Government should be helping during these tough economic times: the disabled, foster carers and families – are exactly the people who will be hammered by these measures.”
His powerful conclusion? “Ministers will tell you there is no choice. That’s rubbish. There are always choices.”
29 July 2011: ‘From festival trash to housing stash’, The Social Issue
At a time of growing pressure on housing and support services and a pervasive mood of doom and gloom across the sector, how refreshing to hear a good news story. Saba Salman’s blog showcased a captivating example of the kind of innovative thinking that will see the housing sector not only survive but flourish despite a lack of public funding.
St Mary’s, a homeless hostel in Bangor, launched a scheme to redistribute tents, camping equipment and sleeping bags abandoned in Cardigan Bay after a music festival to hostels and drop-in centres across North Wales.
“The equipment by the housing association staff and hostel users includes some 79 pop up tents, 38 normal tents, 47 sleeping bags, 54 inflatable beds, 51 camping chairs, 45 roll mats including thermo rests, 17 pairs of wellies and eight new pillows,” Salman wrote.
We welcomed the chance to share a feel good example of the simple ways in which the housing sector can support itself, and its clients, during the coming months.
17 June 2011: ‘You can’t defeat stereotypes by repeating stereotypes’, Red Brick Blog
In June, housing veteran Steve Hilditch shared his disappointment at Labour leader Ed Miliband’s willingness to repeat the very sentiments about social tenants and their communities that can make the job of the housing sector so difficult.
“Ed makes the point that he wants to reward contribution and not punish people. But there is shortage and the people who get punished are those that won’t get a home as a result of a change in priorities – your grannie who needs sheltered housing, your cousin with a severe medical condition who can’t stay in a private bedsit in a shared house, your son or daughter who has had a breakdown and needs supported housing, your sister with 3 kids evicted from her home because she can’t keep up with the mortgage. None of them working and none of them able to volunteer. These are not tearjerkers, this is the real life business of allocating social housing.
“We fall into the hands of the forces of darkness every time we play the undeserving poor game, every time we add to the negativity around ‘welfare recipients’ without explaining who they are,” Hilditch explained.
22 November 2011: ‘The strange death of social housing’, Patrick Butler’s Cuts Blog
In an insightful post on the brave new world of social housing under the coalition government, the Guardian’s own Patrick Butler spelled out the perverse choice that the government – indeed, any government – now faces in funding homes for social rent:
“If it wants to build new properties for social tenants, it has just two options: to raise its own investment capital (by selling off a couple of its million-pound properties to bankers or city lawyers); or to apply for investment under the affordable housing programme.
“If it does the former, it knows it risks abandoning its social mission to help provide homes for low-paid young people in the areas in which it operates… if it does the latter, it knows that any homes it builds or acquires in its core north London areas will never be rented by the people it was set up to help.”
If a housing provider charges 80% of market rent under the Affordable Rent scheme, “what would be the point of its existence as a housing association?” Difficult questions that all our members now face, and no easy answer.
13 July 2011: ‘You know you’re an innovator when…’, Social Housing Comms
In tough times, how do you know when your organisation – and staff – is performing well? Kat Hughes, head of communications at Wolverhampton Homes and a prolific housing blogger, shared her top tips on how to recognise the innovators in your workplace.
You are an innovator, she claims, if:
* You have your best ideas in the shower * People describe you as tenacious – and you’re never sure if it’s a compliment * You love change * You bookmark web pages, favourite tweets or tear out pages of magazines obsessively * You talk a lot but you listen more *Your friends are all cleverer than you *You’re willing to take the hit if an idea doesn’t work out *You never feel like you’ve reached the top
But our particular favourite has to be: “You know you’re an innovator if you wake up in the middle of the night and email or text yourself.”
This content is taken from Guardian Professional. You can sign up as a member of the housing network and receive news, views and jobs direct to your inbox.