Housing

8 ways to enhance the role of housing providers

Housing providers have a significant role to play in the functioning of the economies in which they are based and in addressing social issues. They achieve this through the delivery of activities which complement and supplement public services and contribute to a variety of outcomes including around employment, and health and well-being.

Like other place based anchor institutions, housing providers also have a key lever for economic, social and environmental change at their disposal in the form of procurement. All housing organisations will purchase goods, services and works and will have a process in place to design, procure and deliver these. However, the challenge with procurement historically is that it has often been overly bureaucratic, with price the primary decision-making criteria; and little opportunity to utilise procurement to address wider issues.

After Grenfell: tenant empowerment and the end of cities as markets

The Grenfell Tower tragedy raises huge questions about public sector austerity, growing inequality and the price we pay for treating homes as commodities. Neil McInroy gives his view to New Start on the way forward for housing, community relations and cities

Neil McInroy: ‘If any good can come out of this horror, it will be a rejection of the idea that cities are predominantly a market’

The horror of Grenfell is linked to deepening and widening inequality and injustice in our cities.  The chasm in housing choice and wealth – while particularly brutal in Kensington and Chelsea – is replicated across the country.

We must accelerate the alternatives

The economic crisis has turned into a social crisis and local economic policy is failing.  Poverty, inequality, affordability of housing, low wages, insecure work are now ingrained in our cities.  We need a new radical urbanism so that we address these issues and deliver better social outcomes at scale.

However, there is an irony.  There is no shortage of wealth in our cities.  Whilst a few people and areas enjoy the huge benefits of economic success, many people and areas do not. Take a walk from any city centre.  Once you leave the global chain stores, buzzy restaurants, glorious public spaces, new urban living and high end retail, you will get to the district centres.  In these places, there is a different story.  You cannot always see the poverty and despair, as many areas have undergone a physical regeneration, but the signs are there.  Speak to people or an NGO and the daily hardship of surviving on low wages, youth unemployment and increasing housing costs, become evident.  This is not acceptable.  The future has to be about making existing and new wealth work better for local people and communities.

  • Stuart MacDonald

    Associate Director

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