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EVERYBODY NEEDS GOOD NEIGHBOURS

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The Yorkshire Post (p8) runs a feature on a new estate in Bradford where the tenants have signed a mutual-aid compa...
The Yorkshire Post (p8) runs a feature on a new estate in Bradford where the tenants have signed a mutual-aid compact in which they agreed to make a contribution to the neighbourhood.

The 24 tenants, who were shortlisted for the new homes from a waiting list of about 200, were in the first place those with greatest housing need, but their desire to be active in the community then counted towards their being chosen to live in the Byron Street estate.

The tenants themselves had several meetings before they moved in and chose who they wanted as their neighbours. They also had to give references from their previous landlords and neighbours.

Manningham Housing Association, the charity which owns Byron Street, was keen to break down tribal and ethnic barriers, so there is a mix of families from different backgrounds on the estate.

The ideas behind the Byron Street experiment were set out in a book, The Communities We Have Lost and Can Regain, by the Labour peer Michael Young and the researcher and consultant, Gerard Lemos.

Lemos says there is ample scope for local authorities and housing associations, who have taken on much of the responsibility for low-cost social housing in Britain, to 'tune' allocation schemes to encourage mutual support networks.

'While mutual-aid compacts may not be enforceable in law, they could invite new tenants to consider signing them and I hope that pilot schemes now being developed will provide valuable lessons in the ways in which mutual aid in housing might be developed,' he says.

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