CEO’s Blog – 30/09/2016

A Decent Home

I recently read an article from the Local Government Association that said Millions of working people will no longer be able to afford somewhere decent to live by 2024”. I think it is worth exploring what a “decent” home is and maybe, despite many of us taking it for granted, think for a moment why having one is so important.

At The Bridge Trust one of our Strategic Objectives is to “Provide good quality and appropriate living environments that promote value and pride in our residents”. That all sounds very noble, but why? What difference does it make having a good quality (decent) place to live?

Throughout my career I have done many management courses and have studied so many different models of management that I have forgotten most of them! However, one of the few that I do remember, is one that many of you will also be familiar with – Abraham Maslows Hierarchy of Needs (if not, google it). Essentially it is a pyramid containing criteria for what motivates us all, starting at the bottom with the very basic needs of maintaining life – accessing food and water, keeping warm etc, and then the next level up is safety- somewhere secure to live, sleep, keeping healthy and so forth, right up to the top level of being able to realise your own ambitions and aspirations. The principle of the hierarchy is that we have to fulfil the lower levels before we can think about moving on to the higher ones; a model that fits with homelessness very well. Who can devote time to being creative, contributing to society, fulfilling their ambitions for work and family, when they haven’t even got any food or a place to stay. Once they have these things, then they can start to look upwards to maybe seeking employment, having a social life, further education or whatever they may aspire to.

Having a roof over your head is one of the basic requirements for us all, but if we have to live in dreadful conditions it does nothing to motivate us towards achieving anything more. That’s why having a decent home is so important and why The Bridge Trust devotes a lot of effort (and money) in giving our residents somewhere decent to live – somewhere they are proud to call their home.

The government has its own “Decent Homes Standard” which applies to social housing and, although we have no obligation to do so, we have adopted this standard ourselves to make sure all our accommodation meets at least this minimum level of quality for our residents. We don’t have to do this but it’s that important to the wellbeing of the people we support. Naturally we have higher standards to which we aspire and in the main achieve, because we believe that devoting resources to giving people a quality place to live is essential and I think Maslow would probably agree.

If it comes to pass that “Millions of working people will no longer be able to afford somewhere decent to live by 2024”, then this country of ours is heading into an abys, because if people can’t get somewhere decent to live then how will they ever aspire to anything else – further education, training, employment, forming friendships, getting a family, becoming an active member of society and more.

For The Bridge Trust, it takes money to give people a quality place to live and we hope and pray that our supporters will continue to keep faith with what we are trying to do and allow us to continue to improve the lives of so many people who need our support and somewhere decent to live.