This work aims to explore how current changes to the role of housing officers at social housing providers has affected the health and wellbeing of residents, local communities and on other local services.
April 2018 - March 2019
Evaluation of Sheffield City Council Housing + programme
Research Team: Dr Lindsay Blank, Eleanor Holding, Dr Hannah Jordan, Professor Elizabeth Goyder, Mary Crowder, Professor Ed Ferrari & Sally Butterworth.
Who's involved: University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University & Sheffield City Council
April 2016 - March 2018
Housing + is a new way of delivering housing service to Council tenants in Sheffield. Each Housing+ neighbourhood officer works with 180 to 330 households as their main point of contact with the council (instead of separate officers for rents, repairs, anti-social behaviour etc). This involves the offer of an annual visit in the tenant’s home, as well as additional support and signposting to other services as required.
This project aimed to evaluate the service and its impact on the health and wellbeing of tenants. Researchers conducted a telephone survey with tenants, plus interviews and focus groups with tenants, neighbourhood officers and partner agencies.
Researchers found evidence of individual examples of where tenants have received considerable help and support from their neighbourhood officer. It is possible, anecdotally, to see the positive impact on the health and wellbeing of that tenant. There are also examples of where problems, often beyond the neighbourhood officer’s control (e.g. outstanding repairs), have negatively impacted on a tenant’s wellbeing.
For the tenant population as a whole, Housing+ has not had a quantifiable impact yet, either positive or negative in terms of health and wellbeing measures. The positive aspects of this must be acknowledged as this indicates that from the tenant perspective, stability in the housing service has been maintained throughout the changes. This indicates that the tenant population have not experienced a significant disruption or decline in the housing service provided to them as a result of implementing Housing+.
Housing+ is defined as is a service that is there for those who are willing to accept support. However, neighbourhood officers are finding that, at present, they do not have the capacity to visit every household on their patch. Questions are raised as to whether Housing+ should be targeted at those in most need. As a result of recent changes, neighbourhood officers are now able to access individual patch information such as antisocial behaviour levels and rent arrears – and link this to individual addresses for their tenants. This should mean they if they choose (or are directed to) take a more targeted approach to visits, those in greatest need of support could be more readily identified.