Brighton housing charity chief marks 30 years

Posted On 27 Sep 2015 at 11:39 pm

Brighton Housing Trust chief executive Andy Winter celebrated 30 years with the housing and homelessness charity in the past week.

Mr Winter was first appointed as a hostel worker. He then became an operational manager for mental health and substance misuse services before becoming BHT chief executive in 2003.

He said: “The biggest change I have noticed is that housing has become an investment opportunity rather than a place where people live.

Andy Winter

Andy Winter

“When I first started working for Brighton Housing Trust, there were a small number of people in acute housing need, usually with problems associated with mental health, alcohol and, occasionally, drugs.

“Now it is low and middle earners who are increasingly excluded from housing in Brighton and Hove.

“The average rent for a one-bed flat in the city is over £850 per month. Less than 2 per cent of rented homes in the private sector are affordable to people on benefits.

“In Brighton and Hove people living in private rented accommodation (one third of all households) pay 49 per cent of their income on rent.

“The housing crisis was avoidable and is the direct consequence of poor policy by governments of all colours.

“They have refused to reverse the disastrous and economically illiterate decision taken in the 1980s to move away from public investment into the building of new homes.

“Social housing has increasingly relied on private finance, resulting in higher and higher rents.

“As a result, ever increasing public funds are now used to subsidise rents rather than build new homes, with very few extra homes being built.

“The ‘right to buy’ and the betrayal by many of the larger housing associations, who increasingly don’t provide homes with social rents, is just exacerbating the affordability crisis.

“Of the homes sold through ‘right to buy’, 40 per cent are now rented out in the private rented sector at rents three or four times their former social rents.

“Extending the ‘right to buy’ will do nothing to improve this crisis.

“The promised one-for-one replacement of all homes sold through ‘right to buy’ just isn’t a reality. Therefore, it will only help those who are already well housed with a personal windfall and will take the sale of the good-quality council houses to pay for it.

“That’s two social rented homes lost with no guarantee of replacement.

“But my 30 years at BHT has seen many, many positive advances.

“Even though we have more people sleeping on the streets than ever before, BHT’s partnerships with other organisations have prevented twice as many men and women becoming street homeless.

“Over the years I have seen an increasing number of men and women move from poverty, exclusion, homelessness, mental ill health and addictions into housing, improved health and wellbeing, recovery, education, training and employment.

“I am lucky to have the best job in Sussex, working with people in BHT who inspire me, and seeing positive changes in the life of our clients who remain the motivation behind our work.

“My only regret is that after 30 years the services offered by BHT are still needed, and needed more than ever.”

  1. Ghost of Nobby Clarke Reply

    Andy has given so much to this Town and country. thankyou

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