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Rising Stars Cymru 2016 – new finalist announced

Due to a change in personal circumstances one of the finalists, Cally McCarthy from Monmouthshire Housing, will be withdrawing from the RSC 2016 competition. However a new finalist has been selected by our judges from the applicants, who were of a particularly high standard this year.

Jamie RoberstCIH Cymru is very pleased to announce that Jamie Roberts of Newport City Homes will be our third finalist to complete the new line-up.  An asset management technician for NCH, Jamie joins Louise Kingdon from Melin Homes and Donna Williams from NPT Homes in the line-up. The first part of the competition is to write a short essay on one of two questions. Louise and Donna’s essays are published in the new issue 101 of Welsh Housing Quarterly (available online here), so to give you the complete picture here is Jamie’s essay – get judging!

How do you propose we make increasing the supply of affordable homes a key issue for voters ahead of the 2016 National Assembly for Wales elections?

From an outsider’s perspective, affordable housing is often associated with run down old council houses, quite often related to anti-social behaviour and deemed as undesirable places to live. So why would people want to increase the supply of affordable homes, why not invest in the private sector? In order to make increasing the supply of affordable homes a key issue to voters prior to the National Assembly for Wales elections in 2016, we need them to understand the benefits and how it can have a positive impact on the community. After all, the voters are members of the community as well as in some cases residents of affordable housing.

There are a number of ways affordable housing can benefit the community. It can provide long term stable homes; families will often take root in a home providing stability, which can help children to feel settled and improve their education due to fewer moves and fewer school changes. With more families in long term tenancies, people will get to know one another which will help to improve the community.  Increasing the number of affordable homes will also have a positive effect on homelessness and poverty. More affordable homes being available means more people can be housed. This then enables them to improve the quality of their life and even help the unemployed get back into work or education.

Social landlords are also investing a lot of time and money into community regeneration, improving the image of estates and communities, spending time getting involved with the residents and really listening to what people want. Increasing the supply of affordable homes is not all about building new properties but also improving existing homes and getting long term empty properties occupied. This is achieved by listening to the community.

There is also the added reassurance of knowing that your home will be of a good standard due to housing associations having to comply with the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS). From a personal perspective, living in a privately rented property, I do not have any of these reassurances. I can be given notice at any time should the landlord decide he wants the property back. I also have a dated kitchen and bathroom and a boiler that is expensive to run. Sure, I could ask the landlord to modernise these things, but he has no obligation to do so as private landlords do not need to comply with the WHQS. Comparing the two options, there are definitely a lot of benefits to choosing affordable housing over the private sector.

It is clear that there are many benefits to increasing the supply of affordable housing, but to make this a key issue for the voters, it is important that they understand these benefits. Publicising success stories and resident satisfaction figures, taking real life stories from residents of affordable housing and sharing these with the public, ensuring that all of the benefits are promoted and celebrated, will all help towards making this subject a key issue.

Find out when the Rising Stars Cymru finalists will be making their appearances at TAI 2016 by checking out the latest programme

Follow our #RSC16 finalists on Twitter: @dootiew79 @louisekingdon @JamiePRoberts

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