Some more memories of my early days in housing, following my experiences in Liverpool City Council earlier in the 70s. More like a campaign than working.
So it’s late 1975 and I’ve finally managed to talk my way into Liverpool Housing Trust. I’m still at University, but my sociology degree isn’t taking up all of my time or interest, so I’m happy to start volunteering for LHT.
‘The Trust’ as everyone calls it, had been helped into existence ten years earlier by Shelter, part of the reaction to the housing crisis highlighted by Ken Loach’s film, ‘Cathy Come Home.’ Most of the work in these early days has been around the Canning and Granby areas of Liverpool 8.
A great deal of this area has been blighted by Liverpool City Council’s plans (never realised) to build an inner ring road through what had been a much larger Canning area.
So I arrive in Falkner Square when there are, from memory, around 25 people working there, on the ground floors and basements of numbers 38 and 39 (with tenants living upstairs). But my first workplace is in fact round the corner, in 78 Canning Street. I am the ‘Development Department’ along with my first boss, Jack Coutts. We are separated from the rest of the Trust by derelict 40 Falkner Square, which won’t be done up for a couple of years yet. Nearby, the terraced streets of Granby are relatively settled compared to Canning.
But as I’m arriving The Trust’s horizons are about to widen. There’s been a Housing Act passed in 1974 which for the first time looks like bringing serious money into refurbishing houses. (Up to this time, for example, LHT has been ‘improving’ houses in Granby for around £2,000. Simply not enough, and storing up big problems for the future.)
As well as the Housing Act, Liverpool City has started its ‘Housing Action Areas’ policy, to determinedly ‘do up’ targetted areas of streets. And at the same time, and hardly a coincidence, several large scale private landlords have decided to sell up their housing portfolios and leave the field clear to LHT and the other Liverpool housing associations to do all the improvement works they were never going to get round to.
So I walk into a place that’s not only got a reputation as the great campaigning housing association. It’s also one that’s about to be given the means to do the things it says most need doing. So far we’ve concentrated on emergency housing for people in truly desperate situations. Now our job widens to renovating whole areas, potentially for thousands of people.
The next five years are as exciting as ‘having a job’ will ever prove to be for me. Because it’s not really like ‘having a job’ at all, it’s more like being in a campaign.
Full post: https://asenseofplaceblog.wordpress....pool-and-me-2/