Placeshapers conference: Housing associations are ‘community anchors’

An increased focus on social value and delivering economic impact is an early talking point at conference.


The increasingly vital role of housing providers as ‘community anchor’ institutions is the view shared by many in attendance at Placeshaper’s annual conference.

Speaking today (27th November) in Birmingham, HACT’s Deputy CEO, Mary-Kathryn Rallings Adams highlighted the investment in communities as a “core part” of social housing.

She said: “Associations have a strong commitment to the local area and the resources to make an impact locally.

“They have the sticky capital to invest, innovate and work closely with other anchors to improve lives.”

Referencing HACT’s Centre for Excellence in Community Investment – a programme part-funded by Clarion Futures, L&Q, Orbit and Peabody, Rallings Adams also cited the sector as best placed to build wealth through procurement and social value.

“All community anchor institutions, including associations, should apply asset-based community development approaches,” she said.

This idea of community-led partnerships was also the view shared by Lord Weir of Shoreditch – pitching ideas around partnership working to begin to create innovative solutions to address housing issues.

In his address to delegates, Lord Wei suggested a system in which associations offer space for start-up businesses in exchange for providing tenants with training and skills rather than rent.

“We need to start with a tenant/customer-first approach,” he said.

“We have so many opportunities to change the way we house – but the current system often gets in the way. We need to change that,” Lord Wei added.

During her opening remarks, Placeshapers Chair, Sinead Butters referenced the ongoing tenant focus for Placeshapers – with a particular focus on their 2019 #weshare campaign – encouraging organisations to share knowledge, skills and best practice for the benefit of the communities we serve.

“Our Placeshapers strategy for the new year will continue to place tenants at the heart,” she said.