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Thursday, December 7, 2023

MHA Chief Executive calls for improved housing options for older Asian and ethnic communities

In a recent hearing before the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Housing and Older People in the House of Lords, Lee Bloomfield, the Chief Executive of Manningham Housing Association (MHA), emphasized the urgent need for improved housing options for older people from Asian and ethnic minority communities. Bloomfield underlined the importance of both quality and location when considering alternative accommodations.

MHA chief executive Lee Bloomfield (centre) giving evidence to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Housing and Older People inquiry in the House of Lords
Image: MHA

MHA, which oversees over 1400 properties in Bradford and Keighley, is grappling with a waiting list of over 2,000 people. To address the housing crisis facing older BAME individuals, Bloomfield disclosed that MHA has adopted a “patch and mend” approach to maintain older individuals in their current homes, including necessary adaptations.

Bloomfield challenged the long-standing assumption that ethnic families can solely bear the responsibility of caring for their elderly members within their homes. He stated, “Intergenerational living is an oversimplification. It can no longer be expected that extended families will take on the sole responsibility for their relatives as they themselves grapple with the demands of contemporary modern life.”

Highlighting the need for tailored solutions, Bloomfield stressed, “One size fits all does not work for all groups and places.” He cited the Leeds Jewish Housing Association as a noteworthy example of integrated housing and support, with on-site care and culturally sensitive services, including a synagogue, café, restaurant, and arts and culture activities.

Bloomfield further underscored the importance of balancing the repurposing of existing housing stock with the construction of new affordable properties. He cautioned, “Opportunities under Homes England’s new strategy around regeneration of existing stock is welcome, yet older people do not feature in the new Strategic Plan.”

MHA, established in 1986, has primarily focused on providing larger family homes for the South Asian community. However, Bloomfield made it clear that there is an increasing need for housing and care tailored to the older ethnic demographic.

He concluded, “We recognise that the majority of mainstream providers of older people’s accommodation are not meeting the cultural needs of all ethnic communities. There needs to be a financial incentive to move forward by way of grants from Homes England that reflect the scale of what is needed and offers solutions to address the growing problem of outdated older persons’ stock.”

Lee Bloomfield’s impassioned testimony has drawn attention to the pressing need for a more inclusive and culturally sensitive approach to housing for older Asian and other ethnic individuals, resonating with the broader debate on housing and care for an aging population in the UK.

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