With over 40,000 North East households on the waiting list for social housing, there’s a desperate need to rapidly build more genuinely affordable homes across the region.
A group of North East based housing providers have joined forces to tackle this crisis head on and to support the Mayoral Combined Authority to deliver the social housing the region needs.
The North East Housing Partnership (NEHP), which launched this week, is made up of 17 North East social housing providers with a strong presence in the seven local authority areas covered by the new North East Mayoral Combined Authority.
NEHP partners consist of housing associations, local authorities and arms length management organisations (ALMOs).
The partners are Karbon Homes, Bernicia, believe housing, Castles & Coasts, Gentoo, Thirteen, North Star, Home Group, Livin, Durham Aged Mineworkers’ Homes Association, Tyne Housing, Johnnie Johnson Housing, South Tyneside Homes, Gateshead Council, North Tyneside Council, Northumberland County Council, and Newcastle City Council.
Paul Fiddaman, Chair of the North East Housing Partnership, said: “As a partnership, we hold onto a simple belief that a house is more than just a roof over your head. It’s something you can build a life around. The evidence is clear that good quality homes is intrinsically linked with a number of social outcomes, such as education, health and employment, and devolution presents a significant opportunity to address these disparities and build our region better.
“With new powers and funding, managed and delivered close to local needs, we have the opportunity to take on some of the deep-seated problems that have long held us back.
“However, to make a real success of devolution, anchor institutions across the region need to get behind it, lend their enthusiasm and expertise, and align their own work and investment with that of the new combined authority. That’s what the North East Housing Partnership is all about.”
The partnership will be focusing on four key themes: Regeneration, development and placemaking, Net zero and sustainability, Employability and social inclusion and Health, care and homelessness.
The partners will work collaboratively to deliver significant change in these working thematic areas, within which housing provides a starting point to wider social, environmental and economic outcomes, and will work closely with the newly elected mayor and the new combined authority to support with the delivery of its priorities.
John Johnson, Vice Chair of the North East Housing Partnership, said: “Through the partnership I hope to see housing providers from across the North East shift from a group of individual organisations, working in relative isolation, to a strong and unified partnership.
“When we invest together, work together, and plan together, we can achieve economies of scale, shape supply chains, regenerate communities, decarbonise our region, create and prepare people for jobs and support longer, healthier lives. If we align ourselves in each of these areas with the new combined authority, we can achieve even more.”
Louise Bassett, Chief Executive Officer at Gentoo Group said: "Gentoo is delighted to be involved in the launch of the new North East Housing Partnership.
"We know there is a real and pressing need for more affordable housing in Sunderland and across the wider region and we hope that by working together with colleagues and partners that we can deliver on this.
"At Gentoo we believe everybody has the right to live in a decent quality home where they feel safe and that is shared by everyone in the NEHP.
"There are a lot of talented people from across the region involved in this exciting new venture and we are committed to making it work together.
"We know that being able to provide good housing, whilst also helping our customers gain access to skills and training to help them in the jobs market and helping support them to lead healthy lifestyles, all play a huge part in boosting the North East economy.
"As the region prepares to gain more devolved powers from central Government, it’s vital we see this as a great opportunity to work as a team to deliver more affordable and sustainable homes in our communities and further strengthen the strong bonds we have with our communities."
John Dannell, a Gentoo Customer Committee member and Gentoo customer for 17 years, said: “It’s absolutely brilliant what is being planned and now what is needed is to put this into practice and deliver on it.
“There are great people involved and it is very positive but the proof of the pudding will be in what is achieved.
“The views on everyone working together to help make homelessness a thing of the past, I’m looking forward to seeing the figures massively reduced and if the new partnership can help to do that, it will be great.”
Combined, the 17 partners own and manage over 214,000 homes in the region, housing around one in six households in the new mayoral combined authority area.
The concept of the partnership mirrors that of similar partnerships in other combined authority areas, such as the Greater Manchester Housing Partnership and the West Yorkshire Housing Partnership.