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Cool reaction to £8m ethnic housing boost

In our first year as a registered charity, we successfully lobbied Scottish Homes to recognise the needs of ethnic minority tenants. As a result of this pressure, the agency set up a PATH training scheme to help 12 ethnic minority trainees pursue a career in housing, appointed their first race equality officer, and committed £8 million to ethnic minority housing. 

The announcement by Scottish Homes of an £8m ethnic minority housing programme for Glasgow received a lukewarm reception at a race and housing conference yesterday.

The new measures, unveiled by Scottish Homes chief executive Peter McKinlay at the Positive Action in Housing's annual conference in the city's concert hall, see £1m allocated to ethnic minority housing projects in Glasgow this year, with a further £7m earmarked for the next two years.

There were no funds set aside to meet the conference's demands for the establishment of a black housing association in Scotland, although some money may be allocated to the Ethnic Minority Housing Initiative (EMHI), Scotland's first ethnic minority-led housing association.

Mr McKinlay said: "We understand and recognise the demands people are making for a black led housing association. However, the best way to increase access to housing for ethnic minorities in Glasgow is through the housing associations already established within the city."

The chairman of the Black Housing Federation, Mr Louis Julienne, said the Scottish Homes package was a belated attempt to address housing problems faced by the city's ethnic minorities and restated calls for Scottish Homes to look at developing a black housing association.

The vice-chairman of EMHI, Mr Taj Bhatti, said he welcomed the extra money for ethnic minority housing projects but added that groups like his would not be satisfied until a black led housing association was established.

He said: "Not until black and minority ethnic people are running housing organisations, managing them for themselves, making their own decisions, will the ethnic minority housing problem begin to be solved. It is only ethnic minority led housing associations that can truly understand the problems faced by ethnic minorities."

The Scottish Homes funding package is a response to a review of ethnic minority housing in Glasgow, where more than one third of Scotland's ethnic minority population lives. The survey showed that ethnic minority communities faced far greater housing problems than people from white communities.

The extra funding will be used, in the short term, to address problems specific to ethnic minorities, such as the need for larger houses to accommodate extended families.

Earlier at the conference, the race and equal opportunities policies of Scottish Homes were criticised by a housing specialist from Middlesex University. Mrs Esther Golding accused the housing agency of trying to pacify ethnic minority groups by feeding them titbits.

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