Director of customer services Michelle Gregg reflects on the challenges faced across the housing sector
“Housing Yorkshire: Somewhere to call home provides a snapshot of Yorkshire Housing and its customers. It shows there’s a need for more good-quality low cost housing and demonstrates the professionalism and compassion of our neighbourhood teams. It illustrates some of the challenges our customers and communities face.
“It offers a window into what we do but doesn’t show the full spectrum of the work of Yorkshire Housing and other housing associations in our sector.
“It’s widely acknowledged by politicians of all colours that we’re in the midst of a housing crisis – too many people cannot afford a suitable home that meets their needs. A recent study by the National Housing Federation reported that between 2012 and 2016 36,000 too few homes were built in Yorkshire and the Humber. That’s the problem Yorkshire Housing wants to solve – our ambition is that everyone should have the opportunity to live in a quality home that they can afford.
“We’ve pledged to provide 3,000 more homes by 2021, and we’ve already made a significant dent in that figure with the 770 homes we’ve completed. Many of these homes will be for affordable rent, catering for the people who are at the sharp end of the housing crisis – families forced to live with parents, those in living in cramped private rental properties in a poor state of repair or ‘sofa surfing’.
“Some of these 3,000 homes will be offered for sale or for shared ownership to help people onto the property ladder. The money raised from selling the properties will be pumped straight back into building more homes for those that need them.
“And this isn’t unique to Yorkshire Housing – many housing associations across the country are doing similar things. Housing associations are social businesses on a massive scale – in the UK they turn over £20 billion per year* and reinvest their profit back into homes and communities. National Housing Federation statistics show that for every £1 of public money housing associations receive to build new homes we invest £6 of our own funds.
“The thing that unites our customers is that they need a home so as you can imagine they are a very diverse group of people. Housing Yorkshire captured a snapshot of some of the people we serve but doesn’t tell the many and varied stories of the 40,000 individuals who live in our homes.
“We don’t see many of our customers on a regular basis as they’re getting on living their lives – working, raising a family or enjoying their retirement. Others might need some extra support perhaps from our benefit and money advice team to help with budgeting, our employment and enterprise team to find work or grow their own business, or our independent living team to continue to live safely and independently at home. As you’ll have seen on Housing Yorkshire some of our customers do need more intensive support, this is inevitable if you’re housing people in difficult situations.
“A stable home is the foundation that people need to build their lives on – that’s what drives Yorkshire Housing to continue serving its customers and communities. I hope that’s the message that came across in Housing Yorkshire.”
*Homes and Community Agency 2016 Global Accounts of private registered providers