The social housing sector’s highlights from the past month on Twitter
International Women’s Day was marked by lots of social landlords on Twitter. A tweet from Sally Thomas (@SallySFHA), chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, sums up the energy on housing Twitter on the day: “On #InternationalWomensDay here’s to all the women who live in social housing, support their communities, govern on boards and work for it – so much commitment, resilience and passion – now more than ever.”
But this was swiftly followed by the devastating news about Sarah Everard (above), which produced an outpouring of feeling on Twitter. Housing Twitter was no exception, with many housing professionals expressing their fear and frustration, and experiences of feeling unsafe.
Becky Evans from homelessness organisation Groundswell (@RebeccaEvans16) was just one example, saying: “As a young woman who has lived in & around the same location Sarah walked for 7yrs along with many of my friends, are all totally shaken & all messaging about how to keep ourselves even safer.”
At the same time, many in the sector were discussing domestic abuse, as the UK Domestic Abuse Bill made its way through parliament. The issues are clearly linked, with @gem_abbott noting: “Women are not safe outdoors. But women are not safe indoors either. Women are not the problem.”
@DAHAlliance has been tweeting extensively about the bill and what it means for housing, around issues such as joint tenancies. Campaigners are also seeking to extend provision so victims with no recourse to public funds can get support.
@chitranagarajan tweeted that “100% of the women @Safety4Sisters supported during the first three months of lockdown were initially refused refuge accommodation when requested due to their immigration status”.
Spotlight on ministers
Housing secretary Robert Jenrick (@RobertJenrick) tweeted to welcome “RICS new guidance which will mean nearly 500,000 leaseholders will no longer need an EWS1 form. A sensible, proportionate approach is now required to protect the public and help homeowners sell or re-mortgage more quickly and easily”. But replies were mostly from people caught up in the cladding scandal who were less than impressed.
@PeteKemp summed up: “A sensible, proportionate approach is now required to protect leaseholders & ensure that the #PolluterPays It’s a simple principle, based on common sense. #EndOurCladdingScandal #EndOurFireSafetyScandal”
Some were discussing the Housing Ombudsman’s decision to publish reports on all its investigations, naming the landlords involved. Former Chartered Institute of Housing president Alison Inman (@Alison_Inman) said on Twitter this was “absolutely right”, and “the days of execs hiding the dirty laundry must be over”. Retired housing chief executive Tom Murtha (@tomemurtha) replied: “I once wrote a report about the backlog of major repairs in the sector. It was called [the] maintenance time bomb. I was reprimanded by my then chief executive for including information from the HA I was working for. His very words were ‘don’t wash our dirty linen in public’.”
@TweetsMabel won plaudits this month for her appearance at the CIH Scotland #HousingFestival
Twitter is also about celebrating the small but significant moments. Housing options broker Eve Young (@HOS_Eve) tweeted to celebrate that one of her clients had at last been offered an adapted home on a new development by @Link_Group_Ltd, “after years of struggling to find an adapted property suitable for her and her family! Proof that hard work and perseverance really does pay off”.
Stonewater tenant @ScrutinySteve started a discussion about what to call social housing, and if there could be a name that would avoid stigma.
Melanie Rees, head of policy at the Chartered Institute of Housing (@MelanieReesCIH), suggested: “Possibly controversial but…housing?” Anti-social behaviour manager @claire_seymour2 chimed in with “community housing”. “Public housing” was another suggestion.
Who to follow
@ricyeboah Richard Yeboah works at Homes England and is writing a book about Hackney housing estates
@unlocknetzero A new account about the transition to net zero carbon emissions in the built environment
@fifletcher Fiona Fletcher-Smith, L&Q’s new chief executive, is on Twitter
@alicebrownfield Alice Brownfield is an associate director at Peter Barber Architects and has just won the MJ Long Prize for female architects, for an infill project on a Camden Council estate