Working together key to affordable housing crisis solution, guide says

The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) has issued a best practice research guide saying that a close relationship between local authorities and housing associations is essential in order to meet the country’s stark housing need.

Building Bridges’ explores the tensions between the two groups, such as day-to-day cuts and welfare reforms, affecting tenants’ abilities to afford social housing, and recommends that they work more closely in a number of vital areas – such as jointly funding systems to manage allocation and lettings, and introducing new systems to establish affordable housing in their areas.

Terrie Alafat CBE, chief executive of the CIH, said: “It is clear that the potential in local authorities and housing associations working together is huge and it has never been more important for these two sets of organisations to be close partners.

“Building Bridges showcases some great examples of local authorities and housing associations working extremely closely to make sure people in their communities get access to a decent, affordable home.

“But this research also highlights that by working together more closely and sharing resource councils and housing associations can make sure the right homes are built in the right places.”

Given that much of the tension between councils and HAs originates from government policy, the guide also made recommendations on how Whitehall can act on this issue.

John Bibby, chief executive of the Association of Retained Council Housing, explained: “There are undoubtedly some tensions between what should be very strong partners – much of it caused by government policy.

“It is essential that we build bridges between the two sectors and ensure local authorities and the housing association sector work together if we are to provide the safe, decent and affordable housing that our communities need. This report points the way to how we can achieve that.”

The report also makes a series of recommendations to the government with an emphasis on making affordable housing a central policy objective, ensuring access for those on low incomes.

Chief executive of housing association VIVID, Mark Perry, commented: “People are at the heart of why we need to increase and improve our capacity to provide many more truly affordable homes.

“Homelessness in our country is unacceptable so housing associations and local authorities need to embrace and appreciate each other's differences and move forward to deliver stronger, more innovative housing solutions together, as recommended in this guide. By doing this we can make the most of our partnership and start to make a real impact on the wellbeing of our communities.”

(Top image c. fotoVoyager)


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