Back to the future

Two reports published this week highlight how some housing associations could move away from their core purpose of housing those in greatest need and the impact this will have on poor people. The first by JRF shows how, in the future, rents will increase as the availability of social housing diminishes. The move to so-called “affordable rents” will result in 1.3m people moving into poverty even if benefits increase, which is unlikely.
At the same time some HAs are supporting a report by the Policy Exchange which proposes the privatisation of housing associations to enable them to set rents and control the type of people they house. As HAs can already reduce rents this can only mean further increases to make rents even more unaffordable. This will result in even more people moving into poverty. Control over allocations will mean that less poor people and homeless people will be housed as they will be seen as too great a risk by future financial backers. Another report by JRF shows that this is already happening in some areas. As financiers take control of these independent private landlords events similar to “New Era” could be repeated across the country.
Increased rents and the exclusion of poor people will see a return to a time when the private sector failed to adequately house marginalised people. Many housing associations were established as a response to this, inspired by Cathy Come Home. It seems that many today’s HAs have forgotten this in their desire to be more commercial and ape the private sector. In doing so they are turning their backs on their roots and more importantly on the poor people they were set up to house.

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