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Participation in the tradition of self-help housing: ‘community architects of change’ Housing Studies Association Conference 13-15 April, 2011 Housing.

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Presentation on theme: "Participation in the tradition of self-help housing: ‘community architects of change’ Housing Studies Association Conference 13-15 April, 2011 Housing."— Presentation transcript:

1 Participation in the tradition of self-help housing: ‘community architects of change’ Housing Studies Association Conference April, 2011 Housing in Hard Times: Class, Poverty and Social Exclusion Patricia A. Jones, David Mullins & Simon Teasdale Third Sector Research Centre

2 What is self-help housing? Self-help housing ‘‘involves local people bringing back into use empty properties to live in, organising whatever repairs are necessary to make them habitable’. This is usually based on a time- limited licence or lease, but sometimes on a permanent basis, and there are possibilities for asset transfer Definition from

3 Five Essential Ingredients PROPERTIES WORKFORCE RESIDENTS FUNDING PARTNERS

4 Overview  Self Help Housing (SHH) research project – TSRC with partners: self-helphousing.org. Building Social Housing Foundation, Crisis, HACT,summer 2010  Summary of case studies  The tradition of SHH  SHH in context  Housing policy context  Traditional model of participation  Innovation, focus & scale  The economic rationale for localism  Analysis: strategies, resources, impact, sustainability  Concluding points: community architects of change

5 LATCH: SHH organisation set up by students in 1989

6 RIVERLINK Short-Life Housing Co-operative: formed in late 1970s by local volunteers Before and after

7 TAMIL COMMUNITY HOUSING ASSOCIATION: originally short-life housing for refugees in the 1980s

8 FRESH HORIZONS: a community-based social enterprise set up via housing and land asset transfer in 2002 Winning the Regional Social Enterprise Award for using local people to work on local projects including renovation of derelict properties

9 Community Campus: social enterprise set up in 1987 in response to youth homelessness

10 Mini Case studies: exploring scope for SHH  CENTREPOINT – national housing association exploring two-year housing and employment pathways for young homeless  B4BOX – a social business bringing empty properties into use, delivering accredited construction skills training  SHEKINAH MISSION – charity set up to serve rough sleepers, renovating empty properties as an employment and training initiative

11 The Tradition of Self-Help Housing  Approaches: Self-build/Vacant property strategies  Organisational forms: Social movement/ co-operatives/ community social enterprise/asset transfer  Characteristics:  Bottom-up from sub-regional level  Strong volunteering culture  Largely outside of institutional participatory structures  Context driven - traditionally evolve as a response to failure or gap in service provision  Degrees of contestation with state  Historically self-help and self-build have evolved with a co-operative ethos from unmet needs that could only be addressed collectively  Sustained by partnership working and strong asset base

12 Self-help Housing in Context  TYPICAL HISTORICAL CONDITIONS: –Economic crisis, rising unemployment, housing shortage  VOLUNTEERING ETHOS: –Defining feature - ‘sweat equity’  COLLECTIVE ACTION: –Meeting unmet housing needs, protest, partnership  NO STRONG POLITICAL OR IDEOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION: –Unlike public or market-orientated housing policy –Different political persuasions have adopted different definitions

13 Housing Policy Context Social housing Private housing Hybrid sector Economic crisis Rising unemployment Instability Housing shortage Increased mobility SHH

14 Traditional Model of Participation

15 Innovation, focus, scale  Control – starts where Arnstein’s Ladder ends…  the ‘everyday maker’ who works actively in the neighbourhood to resolve issues of community concern, outside of existing political frameworks  Not just service users – employees, volunteers, managers, planners, employers, trainees, consumers, negotiators between different agencies  Holistic approach to participatory inclusion: opportunity to participate as a producer, consumer, decision-maker and member of social network  Operates at neighbourhood level

16 The economic rationale for localism The ‘neighbourhood’ is an ill-defined unit of analysis within a congested and confused policy space (Lowndes & Sullivan, 2008). Better able to: identify local needs identify wasteful processes apply economy of ‘scope’ not economy of ‘scale’

17 Starting points LEADERSHIP Addressing short-term hardship Building trust

18 Involvement Strategies “Just trying to do something for our tenants, it’s never going to work, we’ve got to do it as part of the community…for instance we’re working in four schools”

19 Local Resources LOCAL LABOUR LESS CRIME: “S***** (is) known for theft on building sites. We have had none. I really think that’s because people go, ‘no, that’s our Freddy in there, working up there, don’t nick their bricks’” LOCAL EMPLOYMENT LESS TRAVEL: “We give everybody bikes, and that’s because everybody works within a two mile radius of where they live” LOCAL STAFF MORE ACCOUNTABILITY: “The scariest part for me personally, being the caseworker up there in the office smack bang in the window was you’re not inclined to mess people about…I’m not going to spin you a line to make you feel better today because….chances are I’m going to walk past you on the street at the weekend”

20 Local Impact Challenging stereo-types: “I had two girls at my house (decorating), I thought ‘Wow!’..it’s not always for the boys and for the men” Demographic change: “A number of Asian families have purchased. In terms of the social and economic class of people living in the area there’s been significant change…we have doctors and those types of professions. There’s been quite a demographic mix up and make up”

21 Sustainability Economic SOCIAL ENVIRONMENTAL

22 Concluding Points ‘Locally driven housing solutions’  Housing shortage – availability and affordability  Political vacuum  Levels of youth unemployment  Skills low cost because of recession  Materials cheaply available  Level of empty properties  Volunteering ethos and promotion of it  Exemplar of localism - effective action at local level  Recognition of ‘community architects of change’


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