We need to talk about housing

As we launch our Home Truths reports, Henry Gregg looks at how useful they can be when talking to local stakeholders.

Henry Gregg is Member Relations Director at the National Housing Federation

Henry Gregg is Member Relations Director at the National Housing Federation

19 March 2018

It is encouraging that almost everyone – even the Government – now accepts that there is a housing crisis and a broken housing market. But as those who work in housing know only too well, the reality is actually lots of different housing crises and lots of different housing markets across the country, which each have their own specific issues and specific solutions.

This week we publish our Home Truths reports – a snapshot of what the housing crisis looks like in each region and each local authority area with data on average house prices and rents, local salaries, unemployment rates, empty homes, affordable housing delivery and much more. This is useful information to show how the housing crisis plays out in different areas – but it is even more invaluable as a tool to engage with local politicians and stakeholders and get conversations started.

Many moons ago, before I started at the Federation, I worked for an MP in Parliament. She would keep a copy of Home Truths in her bag wherever she went so that when she got into a conversation about housing or was asked by a constituent, she could speak with authority and would have the figures handy that directly related to her patch.

As with all research reports, it is therefore not just what they say but what you do with them that’s important. The Home Truths reports provide a great opportunity for you to make contact with your MPs and councillors with data that will be useful to them – either to start a new relationship, or to cement and strengthen one that already exists. Once that conversation has started, you can use it as a hook to arrange visits, organise a meeting or open a dialogue about the great work you are doing in their area.

There is an old Chinese curse that says ‘may you live in interesting times!’ And while there are clearly many reasons to be positive, the political and economic environment are likely to get a lot more interesting over the next few years, with more uncertainty and instability than ever. How the sector as a whole fares in this environment will ultimately depend on our reputation. And that reputation is going to be built – brick by brick, meeting by meeting - in the relationships between policy-makers and their local housing associations and their knowledge of our work and its importance to their communities.

So why not use the upcoming local elections to get in touch with your new (and old) councillors armed with some Home Truths data about their ward? Or use the report as the basis for a meeting with your MP or a visit to one of your projects? Or to engage with a combined authority as part of your engagement on devolution? I can’t promise that they will start carrying Home Truths in their bags, but I do promise that with every interaction you will be building a stronger foundation for housing associations to face the challenges of the future.

Follow the conversation via #HomeTruths2018.

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