In the second part of our blog series on the notion of "responsible housing in Europe", we focus on the role of local social responsibility.
We have asked representatives from the five projects that made it as finalists in this category of the first edition of the European Responsible Housing Awards 2014 to share their views around the importance of local social responsibility. Is there a secret recipe?
Local social sustainability is at the heart of our business. The name of our housing association Eigen Haard means “Own Fire Place”. We offer affordable housing to people who need it most in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. Tenant participation and community involvement is part of the day to day activities of Eigen Haard. Together we do our best to keep neighbourhoods clean and safe.
In the vision of Eigen Haard tenants should take care of their homes and also have a shared responsibility in maintaining a good living climate in their neighbourhoods. We take it a step further. We join hands with local partners to work on social ownership. We connect and cooperate with active community groups and formalize Neighbourhood Partnerships with volunteer organization and neighbourhood enterprises. Their activities help to improve self-reliance of tenants, prevent social conflicts, and reduce debts and unemployment. This requires mutual respect, interests and space to operate. There are only winners!
Young people usually face special difficulties to access affordable housing, this is why the programme offers them - in exchange of their responsible and dynamic engagement in diverse community and urban regeneration projects- affordable but comfortable lodging. In sum, provided in close collaboration with the university and the third sector, this programme has produced a very rewarding outcome.
Social mediation through an independent third party aims to improve and restore smooth coexistence, for balanced neighborhood management, between shared common areas and secured individual spaces. Well-structured and systematic conflict management reduces our teams’ stress and workload, and tenants see their problems better taken care of, through reinforced solutions which are co-produced and closely monitored.
Ageing is a key society issue. Following a preventive approach, we seek to massively develop barrier-free housing for non-dependent seniors, but also to reinforce partnerships to provide a global answer to elderly’s needs (social and medical care, daily services…) and thus prevent their autonomy loss and enable them to stay at home as long as possible.
Delivering social sustainability is central to Midlothian Council’s corporate goals as; it underlines the services we deliver and is one of our corporate values. Likewise, the Council’s Sustainable Development Policy commits to discharging our Best Value duties in a manner consistent with the principles of sustainable development.
Cowan Court project, a specially designed extra care housing development serves the “responsible housing” notion because it demonstrates how the Council has incorporated sustainability into social, environmental and economic activities. Delivered in collaboration with stakeholders, it enables older people with varying care needs, including dementia, to live at home independently for as long as possible, with the aim of meeting end of life care. This perhaps, is the best demonstration of dignity in living.