Matthew Taylor’s article on Emergent Impact in Inside Housing in 2016 gives some insight as to how leaders of social housing organisations need to create a frame for stewarding what has become the key civil society organisations in the UK today. Positioned between the Public sector and Private sector social housing practice on both an organisational strategic level, and the political agenda presents both opportunity, challenge, and massive risks. The burgeoning dystopian reality that the COVID pandemic has left us with, is an immediate challenge for the psyche, just from the perspective of where to start putting back the pieces on a personal, family, community, and wider social level. Quality affordable housing the, fundamental building block of a stable life in modern society is in short supply. The regulated social housing sector is the sector on which the responsibility for making the argument to provide more social housing rests.
The business model of social housing now relies on building new housing developments sale with a range of sub-home ownership products on offer, such as shared ownership, which is the part-rent part-buy product, and another “affordable product” where you rent with the intention to buy, but if you don’t buy or if you cannot afford to buy within a certain time frame you will need to leave the premises. As for homes for straight out social rent, a soon to be extinct species, the number of these that are currently being built, is never going to ever be at parity with the number required to meet the needs going forward. This presents us with a serious problem.
The impact of poor quality housing on wellbeing, once hard to measure, is now showing how important it has become within the context of the global pandemic. If you live in poor quality housing you are more likely to die from COVID 19. If you live in, overcrowded poor quality housing that indicator goes up several notches. If you are spending most of your monthly income, working in low-income sectors that put you on the frontline, working with the public, come from BME communities, that suffer from multiple disparities and inequalities the needle edges closer to the red zone.
So you can see it is clear how leaders in social housing may think they need to become very sophisticated, in coming up with solutions to effect change within a landscape that seems to have changed drastically over a very short period of time. But meeting the challenge may be more straightforward than we think. It may mean that we have to think differently, and not see ourselves in silos, but more akin, to each one of us as units in the whole, that need to point out the bottlenecks that need unplugging. Writers and commentators like Toby Lloyd formally of Shelter and head of No.10 Housing Policy unit author of ‘Rethinking The Economics of Land and Housing’ provide many coherent solutions for housing leaders to explore to make the case against a current policy that is not moving the needle in the opposite direction.
On a grassroots level, where the impact of the dearth of the fundamental building blocks to build stable lives are the reality; those of us in the BME Housing sector, providing housing services and additional support, because of lack are forced to signpost and advocate for where support can be found to negotiate a system, that to the most vulnerable, is hostile, uncaring and Dickensian at its core. We must adapt, and embrace the concepts of Emergent Impact and Collective Impact seek to create socially innovative frameworks to move the needle in the right direction. That direction must be to make the case for more homes for social rent.