‘It’s not Okay’ – The new guide to tackling stigma in social housing
At this week’s Housing 2020: the virtual festival, a new guide to tackling stigma in social housing will be launched by the Chartered Institute of Housing and See the Person. What’s it all about? Sarah Davis, CIH senior policy and practice officer, shares more information.
Social housing tenants often experience stigma because of where they live. Although that should not happen, it is a reality for many tenants and has been increasing over a number of years. The reasons for it are many and complex: housing policies of successive governments that have favoured home ownership and made it seem the natural tenure to aspire to; the limited number of social homes to rent and restricted access to these; the way the media have reported on social housing estates and tenants – all these have contributed to that stigma.
However, research amongst tenants by See the Person revealed that unfortunately some practices by housing organisations and the behaviour and attitudes of some housing professionals also played a part. See the Person and CIH joined together with the aim of tackling this aspect of the stigma tenants experience. Both organisations wanted to make a positive contribution and support organisations and professionals to address the issue, rather than generate further negativity about the sector. We are concerned to make a difference but to do so, the problem has to be acknowledged. So, we asked tenants and people working in housing what it was that staff and organisations did that contributed to stigma.
Our survey revealed that problems for tenants arose from a number of common issues; ranging from housing management practices designed to suit the landlord rather than being customer focused, through to language and behaviour by staff that revealed thoughtlessness towards tenants concerns and poor or even dehumanising treatment.
The survey was not only a chance for tenants to reveal what the problems were; we also asked what organisations and professionals could do to change practices and improve the experience of living in social housing. Lots of positive recommendations came forward, and these have been captured in the guide too. And we were able to draw on the examples of several organisations of different size, structure and geographical spread, which have also recognised what they did for tenants could be improved, notably by working in a different and positive way with tenants.
The result is our guide: It’s not Okay which is being launched at Housing 2020: the virtual festival. We hope that it will provide an opportunity for organisations and professionals to pause and think about what why they want to work in housing, and how to work with tenants to address and stamp out stigma in our sector.