This paper provides a summary of evidence on a local sense of well‐being gathered from the population of a mutual resident‐controlled housing association, compared at various levels with national and other comparator data. It reproduces statistics and many statements from Walterton and Elgin Community Homes (WECH) residents, to shed light on questions over the potential for community‐owned social landlords to promote social capital and well‐being and transform communities and neighbourhoods in line with current UK government thinking on happiness, empowerment, and the Big Society agenda.
The paper is the second part of an overview of the potential for social housing to empower people and improve well‐being, from the perspective of a full community‐owned social housing landlord. Professor Peter Ambrose of Brighton University led the study of the WECH population, assisted by LSE Social Policy post‐graduate students who carried out the interviews of WECH residents. Dr Satsangi of the University of Stirling led the work comparing the data collected on WECH residents with other populations and datasets. The paper includes a summary of these findings, with further reflections on the implications for national housing policy.
Notwithstanding the high deprivation indices for the area as a whole, residents of WECH expressed high levels of satisfaction with the neighbourhood, and greater levels of community engagement than people living in areas with comparable levels of deprivation. The findings support the hypothesis that an empowering and participatory management style – especially where based upon full community ownership and resident control – effectively enhances community engagement, activates citizenship and significantly improves individual and collective well‐being.
Happiness and well‐being, it now appears, are not so much a function of incomes and costs, as a product of control and influence. Overall, and at the very least, the results should give confidence to national and local governments to drive forward their policies to mutualise social housing, where local communities wish to take over their homes.
The 1992 WECH transfer of 921 homes from the local authority remains the only large‐scale statutory (as distinct from voluntary) transfer of council housing in England and Wales to a resident‐controlled community‐based housing association. Therefore, WECH's experience is especially relevant for informing the Coalition Government's implementation of the statutory Right to Transfer for council tenants.
Rosenberg, J. (2012), "Social housing, community empowerment and well‐being: part two – measuring the benefits of empowerment through community ownership", Housing, Care and Support, Vol. 15 No. 1, pp. 24-33. https://doi.org/10.1108/14608791211238403Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited