The lack of social housing in the country needs addressing but is “no excuse” for housing people in squalor, says social housing campaigner Kwajo Tweneboa.
Speaking at HQN’s annual conference in London, Kwajo said the conditions he’s seen are “inhumane and unjustifiable”.
Looking at what needs to change, Kwajo said: “There needs to be a culture shift, not just a line on the website that says the organisation cares about tenants.
“The priorities for housing providers should be tenants, tenants, tenants.”
He added: “Nobody is perfect but there needs to be accountability for problems. I’ve seen providers and contractors go on the defensive and tenant blame.
“All housing providers are failing in the same place. Look at and invest in your repairs teams, that’s where most of the issues start.”
Showing videos of the investigations he has done so far around the country, Kwajo said the issue is so severe, and that many don’t see the huge impact on physical and mental health of the people in these homes.
He said: “People’s lives are at risk from some of these homes. I’ve met people with stage four cancer who are fighting with their housing provider over the conditions of their home.
“It shouldn’t have to take me tweeting for things to get fixed.”
He bemoaned the lack of respect some staff give residents, saying their complaints have been ignored and many have lost the focus on their existing tenants by getting distracted by development.
He countered that by saying: “Not everyone in housing is terrible and should be demonised. There are people who have gone into housing because they genuinely care. That is what all providers need to be about. Build on those foundations.”
He urged providers to do more on complaints, culture, and getting executives out of the board room and onto the front line.