Housing ‘part of the problem’ in poverty | News

Housing ‘part of the problem’ in poverty

The sector needs to look at its role in alleviating poverty, and not contributing it, HQN’s Housing Management Network annual conference has heard.

Hannah Absalom, HQN Associate and consultant, was speaking about findings from her PhD.

She said: “Housing is part of the problem, but we are part of a problem within a bigger problem with government and others. We need to create a space to emotionally connect, re-look at services and re-imagining those with tenants.”

Absalom also took on the increasing commercialisation of the sector, which she said didn’t help the problem as “finance focused” boards finding it harder to relate and have their minds changed with emotive stories.

She added: “We don't like to talk about it, but housing is becoming more and more commercial. Are we losing contact with what it is like to live in poverty?"

Absalom also spoke of the need for poverty to be “disturbing” to talk about and pondered: “What is our role in contributing homes that help to alleviate poverty and not contribute to it?”

Also speaking at the session was Dr Sorcha Mahony, Senior Researcher, Poverty and Inequality at The Children’s Society.

She spoke passionately about the need for children’s voices to be heard in the poverty conversation, telling a story about a young child who had been moved from temporary accommodation to temporary accommodation.

She said that “children's experiences don't always feature in discussions on housing and poverty” and urged housing providers to work with the charity over their work.

Chair for the day, Alison Inman, also spoke of the need to tackle poverty a lot more in the housing sector, saying that “poverty has never been worse”.

She said: “When I started out we didn't even know what a foodbank was"

“We still have people say that 'you're not poor if you have got a little bit of food'. That isn't helpful. We are seeing poverty on a scale we haven't seen before: food, hygiene, period, fuel, data - it is a huge problem.”