The Housing Plus Academy
The Housing Plus Academy is a knowledge exchange and research partnership between 17 leading housing associations and local authorities, the National Housing Federation, the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH), the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the University of Manchester, the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations, Trafford Hall and LSE Housing and Communities.
Since its launch in November 2015, we have run 15 think tanks, six for tenants and seven for staff. 700 participants came from across the country.
The core purpose of the Housing Plus Academy is to promote knowledge exchange and participative learning among decision-makers, frontline staff and tenants of social landlords; tackling burning problems affecting both housing association and local authority landlords, such as benefit cuts, Universal Credit financial pressures, energy saving, work and skills, community enterprise, estate regeneration, private renting, community resilience, supported housing, housing young people. We organise residential and one-day Think Tanks at Trafford Hall, Chester, so people can share ideas and experiences away from normal pressures, in a simple but beautiful natural environment.
Housing Plus is about the wider actions of social landlords in low-income communities beyond simply renting homes. The aim is fivefold:
Housing Plus is partly driven by the harsh impacts of welfare reform and its wider repercussions in communities, affecting tenants' ability to pay rent. Housing Plus is a long-term, relatively low-cost approach that has stood the test of time. Severe funding cut-backs are affecting services and community conditions.
The Housing Plus Academy Think Tank model
The think tank model works as a know-how swap between social housing staff at all levels, specialists, researchers and government, to help social landlords respond constructively to austerity. The Housing Plus Academy think tanks offer a unique chance to learn for different levels of staff and tenants. They are organised around key issues that directly affect social landlords and communities, such as housing young people or people needing care; involving tenants.
The events are action-orientated, practical and hands-on with experienced facilitators from Trafford Hall and LSE. The Think Tanks use participatory learning techniques, and showcase live examples of innovation, best practice and problem solving. Participants are grouped café-style at tables of around six to eight, with a mix of regions, ages, and landlords. Special efforts are made to include ethnic minorities, younger tenants and smaller associations. Events draw from all regions, including Wales and Scotland. Government officials have attended several Think Tanks. There is a strong practice focus to each think tank and participants get opportunities to share their experiences, materials and learning. We produce briefings and headlines after each event. Each Think Tank produces follow up proposals for action, which reach government, chief executives, local government and major housing organisations.
LSE Housing published the Agenda for Housing Plus (link) in January 2017, which sets out why Housing Plus is important for social landlords and why it should be at the heart of social landlords' business. Following each Think Tank, LSE Housing and Communities produces headlines notes that are circulated to participants, as well as to government bodies and other housing organisations. They are also made publicly available on the web.
We have also written several reports:
The Housing Plus Academy runs Think Tanks throughout the year on a variety of topics. Please see our programme for Housing Plus Academy events 2017-2018.
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