Tenants’ views on housing associations and the stigma associated with living in social housing have now been submitted as part of Yorkshire Housing’s response to the government’s Green Paper consultation.
After holding two focus groups and sending a survey out to hundreds of our tenants, we gathered a lot of information about how they felt about areas such as complaints, repairs, how Yorkshire Housing is regulated and how they are affected by stigma.
Many tenants spoke of complaints and repairs being an issue, with one tenants asking for more empathy from staff. But many recognised the problems associated with comparing different housing associations and linking funding to performance, which is one of the ideas that the government touched upon in the consultation paper.
Comparing housing associations was not such a good idea, tenants said, because it would impact on the stigma and not help poorly performing housing associations. It would also negatively affect people because of the fact that they don’t have much choice when it comes to where they live. One tenant asked:
How can you measure one housing association and another if one has more deprivation in their area?”
Another said there was more stigma nowadays due to the government’s apparent insistence that everyone should own their own home. To help challenge stigma, one tenant asked for the government and landlords to provide opportunities for people to present their own stories about what is happening in their homes and communities. Another said:
“We talk about the bias in the media and the focus is on the people who abuse the system, and illegal sub-lettings. This gives people the impression that that is what people are like but it is not representative.”
A suggestion in the Green Paper to hold a ‘best neighbourhood competition’ for people in social housing was welcomed as a way for tenants to get to know their neighbours and for landlords to get to know their tenants. However, one tenant didn’t like the idea.
“Rewarding communities with funding for a street party is a patronising and ineffectual step that will only bring further stigma to deprived areas (and blaming them for the social problems).”
The consultation ended on November 6 and government staff will soon be filing through the responses to put together their analysis, which will hopefully bring positive results in the year ahead.