Another association moving away from social housing
Aster joins Genesis and Hyde in considering pulling out of social housing
A large social housing association is considering transforming into a ‘mainstream house builder’ by following Genesis in ending development of homes for sub-market rent. Aster Group, which owns 27,000 homes across southern England, is thinking of no longer building homes for social or affordable rent according to Inside Housing. The group is also looking at deregistering as a social housing provider
Genesis chief executive Neil Hadden has said that in future, Genesis will only build new homes for shared ownership or market sale as we report here.
Bjorn Howard, the Aster Group boss is quoted as saying “While grant levels held up it made sense for affordable homes to be the mainstay of our development programme, in the future it may be home ownership.” He stresses that completely stopping social housing construction is one of a range of options under consideration but the direction of travel is clear. Other associations are having similar reviews, Hyde for example are reportedly considering a halt to social housing development and say “We anticipate that we will develop more housing for sale and fewer homes for affordable rent.”
An emerging theme is that social housing leaders blame the government is if they were powerless. According to Inside Housing the Aster boss said it is not associations’ role to be “social policy makers” when asked if he was concerned about abandoning those on lower incomes.
In the past social housing ‘leaders’ would have seen speaking up on questions of social policy, poverty and bad housing as part of their role. But worse than simply abandoning a social mission, the big housing associations are actually behind much current government policy. For example, Genesis sponsored a report last year which, in effect, calls for housing association privatisation – see out report here. Far from being neutral, the big housing associations are lobbying for an extreme neoliberal housing policy which means the destruction of social housing.
It will fall to Unite, the wider Labour movement and tenants’ groups to fight for social housing.
For the Inside Housing report see here
Following the Genesis announcement a manager resigned - see her resignation letter here