The London Borough of Merton has committed to tackling the housing difficulties faced by local black and ethnic minorities, by launching its first ever Ethnic Minority Housing Strategy.
The three-year strategy and action plan was launched at Merton Civic Centre last Friday. 120 people from over 50 organisations gathered to listen to keynote speakers, enjoy a multi-cultural buffet, and attend information sessions on issues such as extra care housing, housing regeneration, employment opportunities for ethnic minority women and community safety.
Statistics show that ethnic minority groups in Merton are more likely to be in need of housing and suffer social exclusion. They also suffer racial discrimination and racial harassment and have difficulties access many essential services because of language and cultural barriers.
The strategy therefore aims to:
· identify the housing needs and aspirations of ethnic communities in Merton, through research and improving our information base;
· develop an ethnic-minority housing policy which recognises and responds to the varied needs of ethnic minority groups; and
· put into place an action plan to improve services for ethnic minority groups.
Councillor Edith Macauley, Chair of the Joint Consultative Committee for Ethnic Minorities, said:
“Merton’s population is made up of diverse groups of people, who have valuable contributions to make that are vitally important to the growth, evolution and life of the borough.
“It is also a place where racism, prejudice and discrimination will not be tolerated. Merton’s Housing Service has developed the strategy in order to demonstrate its strong commitment to providing inclusive housing services which are accessible to black and ethnic minority communities.”
Speakers from the LSE’s Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, the Federation of Black Housing Associations, and the office of the Mayor of London reinforced the importance of a robust strategy to tackle housing issues facing ethnic minorities.
Peter Mulloy, Head of Housing for Merton, promoted the strategy’s development. He said:
“The strategy is the fruition of many months of work by the Ethnic Minority Housing Strategy Team, led by Merton’s Housing Service. It is testimony to successful partnership working between Merton Council, the community and other stakeholders.
“We intend to measure the strategy’s success by monitoring the real changes it delivers for local people.”