RSLs are creating ghettos

18 Nov 99
Housing associations in London have been accused of 'ghettoising the poor' by allocating most of their homes to the unemployed.

19 November 1999

Eric Sorensen, chief executive of London's shadow regional development agency, told housing association finance directors last week that it was ludicrous to create estates made up primarily of people without jobs.

He said: 'Increasingly, an allocation to social housing is for people not in work. It's self-evident that this policy is mad.'

Speaking at a finance conference run by the London Housing Federation, Sorensen accepted that registered social landlords in the capital are dealing with scarce resources.

'But you are also ghettoising the poor in housing estates,' he added. 'We must break that down so that everybody gets access to what is available in this city.'

Sorensen is chief executive of the London Development Partnership, which is due to be succeeded by the London Development Agency once a mayor is elected. The mayor will decide the make-up of the agency, which comes into operation next July.

Sorensen warned RSLs not to expect all boroughs to gain an equal share of projects backed by mayoral funds, as most cash will go to entrepreneurial authorities that can achieve quick results.

'It will be interesting to see the distribution of mayor-supported projects,' he said. 'They will be concentrated in those boroughs which share the mayor's lust for action.'

George McMorran, finance director at Metropolitan Housing Trust, said allocation of properties in London was beyond the control of most RSLs. 'It's basically allocations from local authorities,' he told delegates.

Many RSLs were involved in successful regeneration schemes, he said, but these created problems as tenants who found jobs as a result of the projects then moved out, allowing new tenants, many of whom were unemployed, to move on to estates in their place.


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