Deputy Mayor of London for Housing, Tom Copley joined BME London Landlords for roundtable talks in which much of the conversation was around how BME London Landlords could play an increasing role in the Greater London Authorities recovery plans post COVID lockdown for BME communities in London.
Tom Copley, Deputy Mayor for Housing, GLA highlighted what an opportune moment this is as the GLA are developing the Affordable Homes Programme and this must include a significant reference to equality, diversity, and inclusion.
BME London Landlords’ new appointed chair Ben Laryea in his introduction outlined how accessing quality affordable housing for BME communities continues to be of grave concern, as was the impact of COVID 19 on BME Communities up and down the country, with the implications of the pandemic potentially having far-reaching effects as of yet unseen in London’s communities. Ben Laryea as he introduced the Deputy Mayor to the members of BME London Landlords gave a brief history of how BME Housing came originally out of activism in the 1980s and how now working more closely together in collaboration BME led housing organisations can become an example of how to positively respond to begin tackling intersectional issues that BME communities face in society today.
Group members articulated how BMELL’s housing associations in addition to the housing they provide for their tenants seek to serve the wider community stakeholders by offering support to the resource challenges they face, which includes childcare, educational bursaries, gang crime projects, employment and training support.
Deputy Mayor, Tom Copley voiced support for BME London Landlords and recognised the need for collaboration to address the complex challenges being faced by BAME communities across the capital; highlight an example of the type of collaboration between BME London Landlords and the GLA was Leadership 2025 one of BME London Landlords flagship initiatives and the Build London Partnership both of which has been supported by GLA funding.
BME London Landlords Chief Exec members, in questions put to the Deputy Mayor, explained how Black and BME communities in London had had to reconcile Windrush, the Grenfell Tower Fire Tragedy, the polarity of the Brexit campaign and now with Covid-19 disparities in household poverty, unemployment, access to quality housing, training and education opportunities ask what are the GLA plans for a post COVID recovery and what could BMELL do to support those plans.
Deputy Mayor Copley explained that at the start of the lockdown he set up a housing delivery task force with the aim of addressing the changes face-on and building a stronger and more resilient sector. Of major concern to the GLA is overcrowding, which has been further highlighted to be of particular concern to BAME communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The GLA has implemented policies to tackle this including that new homes must be designed to larger space standards and urging the government to overhaul the Private Rented Sector.
Deputy Mayor, expressed that BME London Landlords can join together with GLA to make a case to the government highlighting concerns about dropping S106 contribution for smaller sites, in Robert Jenrick’s recent white paper, which will negatively impact on possibilities for new homes for social rent.
Tom Copley explained how The Mayor is keen to support all organisations who want to build more affordable housing which led the GLA to invest in a small sites initiative, which some members highlighted they took advantage of.
BME London Landlords expressed that as the foremost BME-led strategic partnership civil society group, with the demographics of London being over 40% from BME backgrounds involving the BME London Landlords collaborative group in strategic plans for London was now an imperative. Deputy Mayor Tom Copley agreed suggesting that his initial thoughts were to facilitate the group to participate in the economic and social recovery taskforce headed up by Deputy Mayor for Social integration and social mobility Debbie Weekes Barnard.
From the questions asked of the Deputy Mayor, a list of action points were made as Deputy Mayor Tom committed to bringing back to the BME London Landlords group via quarterly meetings.