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Opinion: Move aside housing snobs

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Opinion: Move aside housing snobs

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing

Opinion: Move aside housing snobs Opinion: Move aside housing snobs

By Jon Land, 24housing editor.

It's been a strange old month in the world of housing.

What started with an apparently genuine desire to pull together and find a unified voice to put housing on the public's radar ahead of the general election has already been hindered by petty factionalism.

The CIH conference was, on the surface, a great success. Housing professionals were united in their praise for the passion shown by the likes of Julia Unwin, the common sense of Steve Stride and the grass roots champion that is Michelle Reid.

Even Housing Minister Kris Hopkins received some complimentary remarks for showing (feigning?) interest in the social housing sector by referring to social rents and wearing the SHOUT campaign badge at the request of Colin Wiles.

In a weird way, Eric Pickles' desultory performance helped with the bonding, met as it was with virtually unanimous disapproval, particularly when it transpired that his only priority was making sure he didn't miss his train.

While housing didn't get angry as some hoped it might, Grainia Long was right when she said it wouldn't be polite. But, as always, the real dramas are rarely played out on the conference stage.

I've been writing about housing for nearly 10 years now but it's only in recent times that the bitter rivalries, petty jealousies and gaping schisms have become apparent to me.

It was disappointing to see such behaviour so blatantly on display again this year, especially when much of it boils down to commercial self-interest.

Of course housing has an 'establishment', the 'big boys' who have always had their own way, but at a time when the sector is diversifying, new ideas and fresh blood are pouring in from the private sector and traditional approaches are becoming increasingly redundant, the old school snobbishness is jarring.

And there's a cut-throat attitude that doesn't sit well in a sector that is ultimately supposed to be about providing homes for some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in society.

Which, I suppose, is where 24housing comes in. As a relative new kid on the block and one without any official allegiances, we are able to offer something fresh to a sector that if it isn't careful will end up eating itself. Rather than the same talking heads, we provide space for (almost) anyone that wants to get something off their chest because they have a passion for housing and want other people to know about it.

We are about sharing best practice, positive messages and puncturing the pomposity that surrounds much of the way housing presents itself to the general public.

It's why we are getting right behind Adrian Capon and the brilliant simplicity of #HousingDay by devoting a whole edition of the magazine to it. It will be interesting to see who else offers their support (and, more pertinently, who doesn't).

People are queuing up to make their voice heard, and we're happy to allow them to do it - whoever they are.

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