Radical Housing Thoughts…

Posted on: 24th October 2023


These are my notes/ ideas BUT they cannot do justice to a 2 day conference. Made contacts and gained some ideas and motivation to keep trying!

Conference headlines/ Themes

Day 1 – Community Land & Finance

Key learning point for me was that The Church is stepping up to recognise and respond to the Housing Crisis. Nationally formed Church Housing Foundation to mobilise and equip the Church and connect with those who share our ambition to provide more high quality and truly affordable housing, supporting stronger communities.” There is also a Church Housing Association to directly meet housing need, focusing on the needs of the poorest; they are looking at new build and empty homes renovation. Finally, the Church has formed a Church Development Agency to provide a team of experts to support diocese wanting to get involved.

Church Contacts are: Beki Winter, Housing Enabler – b.winter@housingjustice.org and Nic Harris, Chaplain for Housing – nic.harris@bristol-cathedral.co.uk .

Other key messages were:

  • The system for providing homes is broken;
  • Immediate, rapid, large scale, unprecedented and far reaching action needed;
  • Smaller, local community activists need to be regarded as 1st responders and they need to be enabled to experiment so that small scale might become large scale, contributing to system change at local and National level;
  • Planning systems and many developers focus on building houses, flats etc but the system needs to switch to providing homes for all and building resilient communities;
  • Need to encourage and learn from experimental housing solutions, especially if from community led groups, then expand what works at scale;
  • Need to ensure that work to solve the Housing Crisis doesn’t worsen the Climate Crisis – so must not rely on cement/ concrete based housing solutions due to high emissions of CO2 to produce.

Links to Explore

  • Aster Housing as potential Registered Housing Partner.
  • Whether our local vicar wants to become part of our Land Trust and look to facilitate meeting local housing need in Lands End Peninsula;
  • Investigate Housing Growth Partnership, a social impact equity investor, backed by Lloyds – Housing Growth Partnership
  • Sussex Councils have set up a resourced/ staffed Community Housing Hub, to support community led housing in its many forms. Could Cornwall Council look towards a similar idea – maybe talk to Sussex Councils?

Call To Action from Radicals

Day 2 – Homelessness, Care & Inclusion Resilience

Key thoughts from day re reducing homelessness

  • Find out the numbers of single, homeless people in Cornwall and what funds are being spent to house them in emergency accommodation; (Told temporary accommodation placements in England are the highest they have been for 18 years)
  • Need to shift Council spending from providing temporary housing solutions to permanent homes, at scale and rapidly;
  • There is a need for 1 bedroom homes – myth is that they are not necessary, perpetuated by funding and business model of many housing associations and councils;
  • Need to explore several organisations that might be able to help in some way –
    • We Can Make – looking at fitting small homes in unlikely places, including work to increase density on some housing estates, with current residents engagement/ support;
    • Crisis – charity aspiring to end homelessness;
    • Homes for Cathy – organisation supporting those working towards goal of ending homelessness;
    • Oasis Trust – specifically Steve Chalke – has worked over many years to address homelessness.

Key thoughts re homes for families and individuals with Special Needs

We had a few wheelchair using speakers address us and an NHS England speaker considering the needs of those with autism or learning disabilities. A huge need to look at accessible housing to meet their needs and move away to people being offered a ‘placement’ or finding themselves in institutions, not homes. Also relevant to the ‘bed blocking’ conversations as if more homes were suitable for a range of physical needs, more would be able to return without awaiting adaptations.

There are over 100,000 wheel chair users in the UK – some on their own, some as part of families and they seek housing solutions that are good for those needing to get around a home in a wheel chair but that do not render the home inappropriate to non wheel chair users.