SFHA Chief: Housing ‘fundamental’ to social justice

Delegates told genuinely affordable housing must be on equal terms with all other options – not a last resort.

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Scotland needs “a positive re-framing of the housing system through the lens of social justice”, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations’ (SFHA) AGM has heard.

Acknowledging housing in Scotland as undergoing a fundamental re-alignment, SFHA CEO Sally Thomas told delegates genuinely affordable housing must be on equal terms with all other options – not a last resort but part of the mainstream with private rent and home ownership.

Pulling up the property ladder as a “failed concept”, Thomas said the sector should be building on a level playing field.

“We need a positive re-framing of the housing system through the lens of social justice.

“Genuinely affordable housing must be on equal terms with all other options – not a last resort but part of the mainstream with private rent and home ownership.

“What’s needed is a property democracy – a level playing field of housing options and choices with tenure neutrality in terms of standards and quality, public perception and access.

“Affordable housing as a positive and equal choice in a re-balanced and mature housing market which delivers from generation-to-generation according to need and aspiration,” she said.

The AGM welcomed SFHA’s 130th member, Ruchazie Housing Association, a member of the Easterhouse Regeneration Alliance and the 17th new SFHA member.

Thomas told delegates the more SFHA can represent housing associations and co-operatives across Scotland, the more the sector can broaden and strengthen its contribution to social justice and inclusive growth.

“We need to think global and act local.

“Housing associations and co-operatives contribute to creating a good society for all, tackling poverty and inequalities through targeted investment in our communities.

“Our focus has to be delivering on the Scottish Government’s affordable housing programme now and planning for the future, beyond 2021. We need the right homes, in the right places to meet people’s needs at every stage in their lives,” Thomas said.

Cabinet Secretary, Aileen Campbell MSP, told delegates housing associations and co-operatives were “key partners” in creating a fairer Scotland.

“We want to continue to work together to meet the need for social housing, tackle homelessness, keep rents affordable and make homes warmer, safer and more energy efficient,” she said.

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