TENANTS' opposition to the Crown Estate's plan to sell their affordable rented homes has gained considerable support from MPs, councillors and prominent bodies.
It has been suggested that a favoured buyer would be a housing association with a record of good management. Peter Rutherford's letter last week pointed out how facile this is, and referred to the Genesis Housing Group as an example. I referred in an earlier letter to Genesis's partnership with
Grainger plc, a private residential company, in the acquisition of some 1,400 tenanted homes from the Church Commissioners, and the consequences that followed.
The Genesis Housing Group, which was created by the board of PCHA in 2000 to be the parent organisation, projects glossy images of good management and their success as a provider of affordable homes. The new organisation has become a 'favourite' with the government and has received millions of pounds in grants (taxpayers' money) in support of the provision of affordable homes.
The word 'affordable' has become ambiguous, as it is applied to both rented homes and homes for sale with offers of part buy/part rent schemes. Fewer homes at affordable rent are now being provided yet, at the same time, the group is engaged in selling off affordable rented homes. Other large housing associations are now operating in a similar manner and competing for government grants at the expense of smaller altruistic organisations.
The thousands on council waiting lists and others living in temporary accommodation in need of an affordable home are not the real beneficiaries of the government's housing programme for so-called affordable homes. No, it is the recruited professionals who are now members of management boards, and their executives. Motives are no longer altruistic, as in the past, but the benefits of prestige, remuneration, and career advancement.
What is now needed is an end of corruption and pretence. An end to the sell-off of affordable rented housing estates and the sale of properties by public bodies that are, or could be, affordable rented homes. An end to grandiose housing developments that purport to be affordable, except to 'bankers' and others on above average incomes.
Current examples are at Chelsea Bridge Wharf and Limehouse, where two-bedroom apartments are offered at £300,000-plus.
BRYAN LATTER, (Retired business and property consultant) Burrard Road West Hampstead