If large housing associations won’t build homes for rent, local community housing organisations should be given the chance

(This is the text of my Opinion column that was first published in the Brighton Argus on Friday 3rd July 2015)

This week it was reported that just 2% of homes in the private rented sector in Brighton and Hove are affordable to people on benefit. Some of these homes are not affordable to people on low or middle incomes. People on lower incomes have traditionally looked to housing associations to meet their needs.

The large associations no longer deliver the homes that ordinary people need. Just 15 affordable for rent homes in Brighton are planned for the next 3 years by the Big Four housing associations.

In Brighton and Hove there are alternatives, including some exciting innovations and affordable options offered by private developers such as QED and KSD Housing.

Brighton Housing Trust works with these developers but also with the Community Housing Network made up of local housing and community organisations including YMCA Downslink Group, Brighton YMCA, Seaside Community Homes, the Community Land Trust, Housing Co-ops, Southdown Housing, and BHT.

I am not asking for special treatment for the Community Housing Network. All I would ask is that the Housing and New Homes Committee does not consider any scheme without alternatives and different models being presented.

I was disappointed that no alternatives were presented to councillors last week for the old Whitehawk Library site. I question whether best value has been achieved. Community Housing Network providers can help to develop homes that are not subject to the Right to Buy.

For many of us providing fairer access to affordable homes is a priority. And unlike large housing associations, any surpluses we generate stay and are reinvested in the City.

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