Henry Terefenko, ForHousing CEO, discusses the centenary of the Housing Act and how housing associations can still fulfil their key pledge.
The end of World War I sparked a new crisis on British soil. A chronic lack of affordable housing for the thousands of British troops returning from the frontline sparked major political reform.
In 1919, the Housing Act came into force to provide homes for those who had sacrificed so much for the country. It was a world first. No other country had introduced anything like it at the time.
Today, however, questions remain on whether the Housing Act is still achieving what it set out to do – tackle inequalities by providing everyone with the right to a high quality, affordable home.
The Right to Buy boom in the 1980s and the subsequent economic crash of 2008 fuelled the shortage of affordable homes today.
At ForHousing we want to ensure that the spirit of the Housing Act lives on. We are committed to enabling possibilities for tenants and acting as a force for good in communities.
Everything we do is for the good of tenants and every day, we aim to improve lives by focusing on the individual we are serving and being the best landlord we can be.
In the North West, we’ve developed more than 900 new homes to date across a mix of tenures and we’ll be building a further 540 by next year.
Challenges include the needs of an ageing population, and tackling homelessness, poverty and inequality.
A report from the Centre for Ageing Better found the number of people aged 65 and over is set to grow by more than 40% in two decades – reaching over 17 million by 2036.
That’s why we are investing more than £12 million in building over 90 homes for older people.
We are also committed to eradicating homelessness. Research by Shelter showed around one in 600 people in the UK are homeless.
We work with partners to prevent and address the issue across the North West. We have a duty to help solve the housing crisis, but we also need to find innovative ways to improve the tenant-focused services we offer.
We believe health and housing are closely linked and that in the future we will need to work even more closely to reduce health inequalities and pressure on the NHS, deliver real change and create new possibilities.
Social prescribing enables people to choose non-clinical support – from healthy eating sessions to gardening – as a beneficial alternative to medication.
Our sector must build on aims set out in the Housing Act by continuing to tackle issues such as mental ill health, poverty and inequality.
We need to start thinking about the legacy we will leave for next 100 years.
New homes must meet the changing needs, while increasing people’s aspirations and building stronger communities. We must work with tenants and partners to tackle future challenges and build the homes and communities of the future together.