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Action needed to support BAME housing association residents into smaller homes

The chief executive of Manningham Housing Association (MHA) has told a Westminster inquiry there needs to be better choices for older people from BAME communities to downsize their properties and receive a better offer of accommodation – in terms of both quality and location.

Giving evidence in the House of Lords to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Housing and Older People investigation into the regeneration of outdated sheltered housing, Lee Bloomfield also called for more research into the challenges faced in local authority areas with a high percentage of BAME residents.

He said MHA – which owns just over 1400 properties in Bradford and Keighley but has more than 2,000 people on waiting lists – has adopted a “patch and mend approach to try and keep older people in their current homes” including adaptations where appropriate.

Mr Bloomfield continued: “Intergenerational living – the old assumption that people from BAME groups look after their older parents and grandparents at home – is an oversimplification.  It can no longer be expected that extended families will take on the sole responsibility for their relatives as they themselves grapple with the demands of contemporary modern life.”

The MHA chief executive told the inquiry that “one size fits all does not work for all groups and places,” adding, “we need better choices for older people from BAME communities and we need different solutions.”

And he cited Leeds Jewish Housing Association as “a great example of integrated housing, housing support and on-site care framed around a community centre providing culturally sensitive services such as a synagogue on site, a café and restaurant, and arts and culture activities.”

This approach, he argued, has played a positive role in tacking isolation in the Leeds Jewish community and “is a model that can be adapted to wider BAME communities.”

Mr Bloomfield said that a balance needs to be struck between repurposing existing housing stock and building new affordable properties.  But he warned: “Opportunities under Homes England’s new strategy around regeneration of existing stock is welcome, yet older people do not feature in the new Strategic Plan.”

He told the inquiry that, since its establishment in 1986, MHA’s mission has always been to provide larger family homes predominantly for the South Asian community, “but it cannot be ignored that older people from BAME communities have an increasing housing and care need yet lack the choice to culturally downsize into smaller and more manageable homes.”

The MHA chief executive concluded: “We recognise that the majority of mainstream providers of older people’s accommodation are not meeting the cultural needs of all BAME communities.  There needs to be a financial incentive to move forward by way of grants from Homes England that reflect the scale of what is needed and offers solutions to address the growing problem of outdated older persons stock.”

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Notes to editors

Picture  MHA chief executive Lee Bloomfield (centre) giving evidence to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Housing and Older People inquiry in the House of Lords   Notes to editors About Manningham Housing Association Manningham Housing Association (MHA) has a proud track record of delivering homes and services to communities in Bradford and Keighley. It was founded in 1986 following a piece of research on the housing needs of Black and Asian communities in Bradford. This research proved that the needs of the South Asian community were not being addressed. With an annual turnover of £8.2 million and a staff of 42, the association now manages more than 1,400 homes for over 6,000 residents.  Around 75 per cent of MHA properties are large family homes with three or more bedrooms.  Over 80 per cent of MHA residents are of South Asian origin but the association proudly serves all of those in need. MHA holds a G1 rating for governance and a V1 rating for financial viability from the Regulator of Social Housing.  In addition to holding the Customer Service Excellence quality mark, MHA is the first housing association in the country to be officially accredited for its work in promoting equality, diversity and inclusion. In 2022, MHA won the British Standards Institution Users Award for Sustainability, the Northern Housing Team of the Year Award, the Northern Housing Tenant of the Year Award and the West and North Yorkshire Chamber Equality Trailblazer Award.

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