Take Community Control - a message from Leeds Tenants Federation
In Leeds Tenants Federation we believe that local people should have a
real say over the decisions that affect their day to day life.
This is democracy in action. It is about giving real power and influence
to local people.
One way of doing that is for local people to take control of the services
that affect them. For residents on social housing estates, that means
taking control of our homes and our housing service.
Residents across the country have taken over their own housing service
and are running their own homes. And you can be sure they are doing a
better job than their old landlord.
If they can do it, so can you.
As tenants and residents we all work hard to hold our landlords to
account and to try to improve our communities. We put in many hours of
unpaid work meeting with housing officers, attending focus groups,
negotiating with agencies and lobbying for change.
We have achieved a great deal by organising as residents. We have
made real improvements to our neighbourhoods and tried to make our
housing service more accountable.
But from the very start of tenant participation back in the 1960s,
residents knew we would have to do a great deal more. They knew that
we had to take positions of real influence if we wanted to change things.
That is why there are over 250 tenant management organisations across
the country in which tenants run their own estates. They make all the
local decisions over day to day housing management and run their own
staff teams who carry out the work.
We want to inspire you and to fire your imagination with the story of
Terry Edis and Stuart Masters from the unique community housing
association WATMOS, which supports a network of eight tenant
management organisations run their own estates in Walsall.
We want to give you ideas and hope when you hear about the first
Community Gateway, a tenant-led housing association that is really
trying to put local people in control in Preston. This is an exciting way
forward for stock transfer organisations.
Community control is a real option for residents. You don’t have to be a
rocket scientist to run your own homes. You need time, commitment and
a willingness to learn. Every council tenant has the right to manage –
the right to say collectively to their landlord ‘we think we could do a
better job than you’ and now there is a voluntary route for housing
association tenants too.
Tenants have transformed their communities by taking control. They
haven’t just improved their housing service. They have started
community companies, made life better for young people and the
elderly, and they have built new homes.
Perhaps nothing is as inspiring as the residents who have built their own
new communities and now run them as housing co-operatives. These
are tenants who did not give up in the face of demolition but banded
together as communities. They employed their own architects and
builders and designed new homes for themselves and their neighbours.
These are real stories of hope and inspiration. Take these ideas home
and mull them over. Talk them over with your neighbours and members
of your residents group. And when you are ready, get in touch with
Leeds Tenants Federation and we will be able to help you get underway.
Policy & Campaigns In Depth