Is local the way forward for HAs


Should the social housing sector be looking to the future globally, as opposed to just looking at home, there is an awful lot happening in the world that will eventually have ramifications for the social housing sector, we must look to the movement of people around the world because of famine, fuel deprivation and water deprivation we have been warned that up to 300M people could be on the move because of these problems, where are these people going to live, they will be looking to the northern hemisphere because it is here that the opportunities for a future are. Are we going to refuse these people entry into our country this would cause massive unrest so when they do eventually arrived here what are we going to offer them regard to housing and other benefits.

To deny these people access to the benefits of our life is not possible but has the social housing sector given enough thought to these eventual massive movement of people and the accompanying problems I think not.

I don’t think we can continue to just look at the financial situation for the future of the sector, although of course this is extremely important, other factors such as fuel shortages, water shortages and the financial problems that there are in Europe and the rest of the world, so I would suggest that the sensible way forward is to take all these things into account.

Let’s take the global fuel problem as our first thought, we have been reliably informed that with the present problems in the Middle East, oil prices could reach $200 a barrel, if this is the case then our fuel prices domestically and at the pump would double, surely the financial burden on all of us, either HAs or their tenants would be untenable, tenants are going to struggle to pay the rent, buy food and clothes for their children, as far as parents are concerned there is no choice, so if the rents are not paid where are the housing associations getting their money from, also the costs for providing services in the housing sector will massively increase.

Food shortages, the price of food is going to increase dramatically, this is not a speculation the warnings are all in place and we only have to look once again outside our borders to see the reasons why, this is not bound to go away we are going to have to face up to these problems and we must put systems in place so we can do what we can for the tenants, or once again the default will be lack of revenue from rents.

We can thank our geographical position, that water shortages of the magnitude of African and mid-European countries have not affected us but once again we will feel the effects of the global water shortage because of the movement of people mentioned earlier.

With glaciers disappearing at an alarming rate this is the only source of water for millions of people in South America and Asia, the main glacier in Lima Peru has virtually disappeared, this is their only source of fresh water, we are talking 10M people.

Housing associations are in the caring business, this means laying plans to alleviate future problems for their tenants, present and future, by being aware of what is happening worldwide, we cannot exist in isolation we are in danger of becoming part of the Ostrich syndrome by saying, ‘there is nothing I can do so I will stick my head in the sand perhaps the problem will go away’.

We ignored the signs leading to the financial crises, that was worldwide, that started in another country, but the impact it had on us was massive, to say the housing sector is immune to worldwide problems is living in denial, reduced SHG, more difficult to obtain private funding to finance our development programs, tenants with problems because of difficulty in obtaining financial help to meet their needs, we cannot ignore the worldwide signs of fuel, food and water shortages, don’t underestimate the ramifications of ignorance, HAs have a duty to help and protect their tenants and if they themselves become more aware of these future problems then the help they will be able to offer tenants, can be pre. not post the problem.

M Wiseman 19/01/2012