As Chair of Habinteg, I’ve witnessed how our relatively small housing association has developed. Accessible housing was our purpose when we were founded in 1970, and remains our mission today. We encapsulate this focus annually with our #ForAccessibleHomes campaign. In my opinion, it’s the highlight of the year. It really illuminates the benefits we can and do bring to communities in the 86 local authorities where we work.
What I enjoy about #ForAccessibleHomes is that we specifically capture what is needed on the ground to provide quality homes for the millions of people in Britain who are in urgent need. The week, from 10 – 14 September offers a range of opportunities for all stakeholders in the provision of quality homes. Sector professionals, residents, influencers, journalists or anyone in Britain’s communities are welcome to voice their ideas, and also to challenge opinions about what makes homes truly accessible.
To me, Habinteg’s ‘big three’ in terms of value are accessibility, quality, and inclusion. We’re providing homes for a lifetime, built to a high standard to form and maintain sustainable communities where all people are welcome and can thrive.
This is a demanding time for the UK housing sector and all providers need to strike the balance between increasing housing supply, whilst improving tenant satisfaction and engagement, investing in stock and managing risk. Habinteg has focussed on this agenda. Our constant investment in improving housing has meant that we have delivered new accessible housing schemes, made adaptations to older housing stock and we have published the third edition of The Wheelchair Housing Design Guide to continue to influence best practice. We are a proactive voice for change for lifetime homes, accessible environments and social housing.
Through our influencing work – and via the Centre for Accessible Environments, we have a goal that within three years, the majority of local authorities will have stated their requirement for accessible and adaptable new homes and that a third of all new homes delivered will be at least to Category 2 standard. And we continue to train professionals to provide housing and commercial spaces that are accessible by default.
Inclusion is about everyone’s equality of opportunity at home, at work and in the community. The context is that more than 13m people in the UK have a long-term health problem or disability, yet only 7% of homes have basic accessibility features. Research shows that around 300,000 disabled adults have an unmet accessible housing need. This is a national challenge.
I welcome everyone who agrees, to get involved in our campaign and demonstrate that like us, they are #ForAccessibleHomes.
Habinteg's #ForAccessibleHomes week of action is 10-14 September - to read more #ForAccessibleHomes blog.