By Pa Modou Faal
British Academy funded a research collaboration between Pathway Housing Solutions and the University of Nottingham, to look into the links between ethnicity, housing disadvantage, and homelessness.
The event marked some preliminary findings from the project and provided a chance to hear from those with lived experiences, as well as from a range of key stakeholders.
The event brought together national and local expert to discuss housing problems faced by ethnic minorities in Nottingham.
The councillor for Berridge Ward and Portfolio holder for Housing and Human Resources Toby Neal said Nottingham City Homes (NCH) has the largest network in the city with over 25,000 properties with 25% of the housing within the city as residential social housing while 32% being private rented.
The city’s population is about 320,000 people which is broken into roughly 125,000 households.
He said the new data indicates a very largely increase in the BAME community from the 2001 census which was 19% of the population, but according to the 2011 survey census, the BAME population in Nottingham rose to 35% which is expected to increase to about 40-45% as of 2022, he argued.
“We have had issues, but we were moving towards bringing back houses anyway which calls for a thorough look into our entire housing strategies as a directorate”, said Councillor Neal.
Part of NCH processes he lamented, is looking at who they serve out, how they are served and how they continue to provide such services.
But as a social housing provider, Councillor Neal said they face significant levels of challenge, because of right to buy, the inability for one-to-one replacements, as they are seeing a high demand presently on the waiting lists for social housing.
Councillor Neal revealed that there is currently over 8200 people waiting for social housing, and NCH was able to let 1400 properties last year.
“We lose 300 properties a year to right to buy and we are currently processing more than 1400 properties. These applications for right to buy tells you that replacement of these properties is very difficult as it is an ongoing process”, said Councillor Neal.
He said NCH’s housing needs assessment shows that 99% of all properties that need to be built in the city, should be affordable housing.
To put it into context, he said, in Bilborough, a two-bedroom house goes back on to the polling system which will be opened to at least 400 bidders which shows the level of engagement.
He said working with partners especially in the Rough Sleepers Initiative which goes up to 2025 will provide accommodation and services for rough sleepers.
“We built 136 new council homes since 2019, there are nearly 290 under construction at the moment and we purchase nearly 200 to help us meet our needs”, said the Councillor.
There is a housing strategy seen on notification, a number of sites seen across the city and other sites where work has already begun.
He said, “we are always keen for partnerships across the board, in terms of understanding what these issues are and delivering services and that’s an area we will be expanding on in the coming future.”
In the area of diversity, Neal said 25% of NCH tenants are from the BAME community against the current number of 28% which is what they are working with.
“35% of all new rents and all the new tenancies go to the BAME tenants and we have statutory homelessness prevention duties, of which 31-32% are from the BAME community”, said Neal.
In a breakdown of the BAME identities, he said 14% are Black Caribbean, African and Black British community while 7% are from the Asian community and the rest from other groups.
“These figures are significant in the areas of disparity and some of these are anecdotal, and this project will probably help to identify issues,” said Neal.
He further said that minority ethnic groups lack access to good quality affordable homes who are most likely to be in lower paid jobs and spend a higher proportion of their income on housing cost.
The number of waiting for social housing from the BAME community is slightly higher than the city average at the moment and that the allocation rate for BAME community is at a higher rate as well.
“So now social housing issue is reflective of the city in many ways. But the core problem nationally which is demand outstrips supply at the moment.
We are looking at various ways of addressing this but until the government actually comes in, some new legislation and rules, that allow us to build new homes, it will continue to be a significant problem”, he argued.