Issued by City of York Council
Housing experts and residents are being invited to take action against poverty in City of York Council’s Housing Week 2013.
Following last year’s inaugural event based around the theme of Get York Building, every day from 14-18 October, Housing Week will look at preventing and addressing poverty and the role housing has to play in this.
Besides raising awareness of and debating issues, the five-day programme provides opportunities for residents to act immediately to directly improve their housing options and financial situation.
They will also join professionals from across the UK and beyond in solution-focussed discussions about new strategies to improve housing provision, the impact of welfare reform, addressing homelessness, health-related issues and housing options for older people.
Learning and feedback from them will be shared with the council’s Poverty and Financial Inclusion Boards and used to initiate further action to alleviate poverty.
Joining the council are a number of partners including Barclays Bank, York Housing Association, Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, Yorkshire Housing, Tees Valley Housing Group, My4Walls, York’s residents’ associations, South Yorkshire Credit Union, the England Illegal Money Lending Team, the North England Civic Trust, the DWP, age-related organisations, North Yorkshire Police and the University of York.
The focus of the week will be the Housing Summit on 18 October, chaired by Dr Paul Edmonson-Jones MBE, City of York Council’s Director of Public Health and Wellbeing, and introduced by Councillor Tracey Simpson-Laing Cabinet Member for Health, Housing and Adult Social Services.
Keynote speakers will include Elaine Appelbee MBE, former Chief Executive Officer of Bradford Vision, who will share ideas on building prosperous neighbourhoods and communities; John Hocking, Executive Director of Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, will look at the national and local picture of housing and poverty and Steve Rawson, Managing Director of Operations at Wakefield District Housing will talk leading a pilot for universal credit and employment initiatives.
The summit will also include workshops on improving residents’ access to affordable finance – a project the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust and The Big Issue are working on; digital inclusion and the financial benefits that can bring; findings by the Northern Housing Consortium and the University of York’s Centre of Housing Policy research on the impact of welfare reform; a new campaign to tackle energy efficiency and fuel poverty; a new anti-loan shark charter; and preparing for universal credit.
Cllr Tracey Simpson-Laing, City of York Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Housing and Adult Social Care, said: “The link between the supply and quality of housing and financial wellbeing is strong and, with welfare reform added to the mix, the potential for poverty, financial and social exclusion deepens.
“In a popular city with high private sector rents and a shortage of social housing, we want to explore new solutions to these challenges. This week gives lots of opportunities for residents and housing professionals alike to take action and work towards solutions.”
Housing Week includes:
Small Changes, Big Savings
To help residents find the information and support they need to help cope with aspects of welfare reform, housing options, boosting their banking know-how and energy bills, they are warmly invited along to any of seven informal advice and coffee sessions. They are to be held on every day of Housing Week at Acomb Explore, Bell Farm Social Hall, Clements Hall, Sanderson Hall, and at Foxwood, Tang Hall and Burton Stone Community Centres.
There, Barclay’s Bank will give advice on direct debits and different sort of accounts people can choose from across the banking network.
They can also get a wealth check, plus pick up the low down on cutting energy bills as well as using social media to network and find work. It’s also a chance to meet local residents’ associations, find out what they do and how to get involved.
My4Walls – low cost home ownership
Affordable property options across the city will be set out in the My4Walls camper van at Parliament Street on 14 October from 11am-3pm. People considering how they might afford a mortgage or checking their eligibility for discounted help to buy schemes My4Walls runs like FirstBuy and Homebuy are sure to find what they need to know.
Tenants of private and social rented homes as well as people wanting to take up tenancies in the future will be welcome at the Tenancy Fair. On Tuesday 15 October, West Offices from 10am-12pm, tenants of all tenures can check out what they should expect from a private tenancy, tips on maintaining a tenancy, saving energy – and money – to dealing with disputes.
Besides the CAB, there’ll be mediation services and the council’s own letting service YorHome at the event. No booking required – all are welcome on the day.
Aimed at private sector landlords, this looks at new accreditation standards, letting to students – and the impact of welfare reform.
Loan Shark Charter
Illegal money lenders, especially those who turn up on the doorsteps of vulnerable people, are being targeted by the council.
It will be working with the England Illegal Money Lending Team to launch a ‘Loan Shark Charter’ at the Small Changes, Big Savings event at Bell Farm Social Hall on Tuesday 15 October, 10am-12pm. While anyone setting up an account with the South Yorkshire Credit Union during Housing Week will have the £5 joining fee paid for them.
Besides raising awareness of the dangers of dealing with doorstep lenders, residents will be encouraged to consider other regulated borrowing options, such as credit unions. During the week, council staff and partners will also be trained on how to spot if someone is being targeted by loan sharks.
South Yorkshire Credit Union will also be at the event, and anyone making an appointment to open an account with them during Housing Week will have the £5 joining fee paid for them.
The Illegal Money Lending Team will also be issuing vouchers for £25 which will be paid into accounts opened following these appointments if at least £1 per month for the first three months for the first 25 people opening an account. This initiative will be funded from proceeds of crime.
Sheltered Scheme Open Days
A chance for the local community to see the scheme, while residents and families can get advice and information from organisations including York Blind and Partially Sighted Society, Age UK, the Deaf Resource Centre, the local police and fire services. Plus it’s a chance to get a free health check.
Property Swap Shop Eligible social housing tenants from York will be invited to swap to the right home for them from those available across the city. Organisations taking part and providing help on the day include City of York Council, York Housing Association, Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust and Yorkshire Housing.
This far-reaching subject will be considered by York Welfare Reform Task Group and at the Citizens Advice Bureau’s AGM.
What’s new in housing research?
Professor Rebecca Tunstall the University of York’s Centre of Housing Policy will look at new research and introduce early findings by the Northern Housing Consortium on the impact of welfare reform, plus research underway on interventions to prevent and address poverty and social exclusion.
North of England Civic Trust will share its research on underused and empty spaces above shops in York’s city centre and Tees Valley Housing Group will look at its work at the White Swan Hotel site and funding for future schemes.
Ending Rough Sleeping
Besides extending the No Second Night Out homelessness initiative across the North Yorkshire region, agencies will discuss local concerns about rough sleepers, tracking numbers and plans for severe weather.
Housing and Mental Health
Drawing on the results of a mental health and housing audit, this event aims to spark solution-focused discussion between health and housing professionals.
The focus of Housing Week, this will be lead by former Chief Executive Officer of Bradford Vision Elaine Appelbee MBE. Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust will be sharing its research into the links between housing and poverty, and Wakefield District Housing will be reporting on progress to pilot the government’s Direct Payments Demonstrations Project. A number of workshops – including one on loan sharks – will allow partners to develop practical solutions to help York’s residents tackle poverty.
NIMBYism and Affordable Housing
At the University of York’s Centre for Urban Policy Research forum, Professor Keith Jacobs from the University of Tasmania, Australia will present his research from the UK and Australia which looks at dealing with developers and at community attitudes towards affordable housing.
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