Housing Plus is about the wider activities and interventions of social landlords in low-income communities beyond simply renting homes. The aim is fourfold:
- to help vulnerable residents manage current financial and social pressures, thus ensuring the viability of their rented homes. Housing Plus encompasses work-related training, support and opportunities; financial and debt advice; practical, safe, low-cost saving methods; energy saving, fuel poverty and environmental protection; special support for the young, the elderly, the disabled and families;
- to train frontline staff in their work with tenants;
- to foster self-help, community resilience and empowerment of front-line staff and tenants;
- to give voice to tenants and front-line staff by tapping into and sharing their direct experiences.
Housing Plus is partly driven by the harsh impacts of welfare reform and its wider repercussions in communities, affecting tenants’ ability to pay rent, meet rising fuel bills and manage tight budgets to cover food, housing, childcare, travel and other essential costs. Housing Plus is a long-term, relatively low-cost approach that has stood the test of time.
The Housing Plus Academy is a partnership between 15 leading social housing providers, the National Housing Federation, the Chartered Institute of Housing and the National Communities Resource Centre at Trafford Hall. It has been developed to promote knowledge exchange and participative learning among frontline staff and tenants of social landlords. The Academy will tackle burning problems affecting both housing associations and local authority landlords today, particularly welfare reform, financial pressure, energy saving, work and skills, community enterprise, and resilience. Below we explain how the idea arose and how we plan to make it work. The Housing Plus Academy is supported by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and LSE Housing and Communities.