Every one of us values the community in which we live, regardless of whether we own or rent the place we call home. Housing associations play a vital role in shaping the areas where you provide much needed housing.
Most housing associations have tenant involvement strategies embedded in their delivery model. Most of you will know about the ‘Right to Manage’, which enables social housing tenants to influence and manage how their housing services are delivered.
Improving the way housing is managed is just one of the ways in which residents and housing associations can work in partnership to make a difference in their local communities. But did you know that there are other powers, called the community rights, which can help support your resident engagement work?
Protecting community assets
Many community assets, such as community centres, parks or facilities for children, as well as privately owned facilities such as pubs and shops, are invaluable for community wellbeing. Unfortunately some are under threat of closure.
The Community Right to Bid can help to protect vital community assets. Residents can nominate any local building or land that adds to the wellbeing of the community to be put on a list of Assets of Community Value by the Local Authority. If the asset is then put up for sale, the residents can ‘pause’ the sale for six months to raise funds to bid to buy it.
One of the greatest obstacles to communities taking on assets, bidding to run services or fund building projects is access to finance. Community Shares can help! Residents can invest in local projects so that, as well as being customers; they would become investors in a much-valued asset in their local area.
Residents in Brighton campaigned successfully for The Bevy pub to re-open when under threat of permanent closure. Over 700 people formed a co-operative, bought community shares and are now proud owners of their pub – the most of any co-operatively owned pub in the country. The Bevy is the first community-owned pub on a housing estate in Britain, safeguarding a much loved community asset in the heart of the community.
Community Shares are just one of the ways in which community groups can raise finance. Other ways include crowdfunding platforms that assist groups in pitching their ideas online to attract donations and social finance organisations that offer repayable finance to projects that provide a social benefit. More information on how to raise finance can be found here.
Community Asset Transfer
Many assets such as community centres and meeting spaces are owned and managed by housing associations. Some housing providers are now starting to think strategically about the role their assets can play in improving the wellbeing of local residents and ensuring that these community hubs remain sustainable in the longer term.
Community Asset Transfer involves the transfer of ownership and/or management of land or buildings from a statutory body such as a housing association to a community based organisation or group. Affinity Sutton have looked at how they can maximise their asset portfolio whilst helping residents put down roots in their local community, and developed a toolkit for housing providers on Community Asset Transfer.
Find out more about community asset ownership and management