Housing charity fights back over critical magazine article

Housing charity fights back over critical magazine article

Housing charity fights back over critical magazine article

First published in News by

A chief executive has hit back at a damning magazine article which labelled his charity’s innovative use of shipping containers to house the homeless as “a get-rich scheme”.

Brighton Housing Trust (BHT) boss Andy Winter said he was “saddened” by the piece in Vice magazine which claimed that there was heavy use of drugs and violent incidents at the new homeless sheltered scheme.

Mr Winter described the article about the shipping containers based in Richardson’s Yard in Brighton as consisting of “inaccuracies and sensational reporting”.

In the Vice article, published on Friday, reporter James Rippingale claimed he had sneaked into the shipping container yard off New England Road to spend the night with residents after BHT banned all journalists from accessing the site until next month.

They reported residents complaining about the chronic cold because of failing heaters, heavy use of drugs, violent incidents and a lack of security.

He said the site was not so much a solution to Brighton’s homelessness problem as a “lucrative stop-gap while the regeneration industry pauses for breath”.

The site opened in December to provide housing for up to 36 people in a joint project between BHT and Brighton- based developer QED Estates.

In a response posted yesterday, Mr Winter said he wanted to put the record straight on a “number of errors” in the report.

He said accusations of expensive rents were wrong as the £650 a month cost was among the bottom 30% of rents in the city and were covered by housing bene¬ fit.

Responding to the claims of violence, he said the trust had only “a very few number of incidents that have been reported” and that “robust management action” had been taken.

In terms of drug dealing, Mr Winter said there had been one allegation when a non-resident tried to sell drugs on the site and that the trust had “no tolerance for drug dealing”.

But he did concede there were problems on the site: “The heating is the one area where we have not got it right.

“The ceramic panels have not been fit for purpose which is why alternative heating solutions were made available to tenants, why we provided some free elec¬ tricity to residents at the coldest point of the winter, and why we reduced the cost of heating to residents by one sixth of the market cost.”

Vice reporter James Rippingale said: "I appreciate fully that this is a new venture, still in its infant phase, with problems such as heating and security being worked out on the wing.

"Whilst I genuinely believe that there exists a positive formula in the initiative, and that Brighton Housing Trust should not carry the brunt of criticism, its five-year lifespan and the limited time in which it will be operational does not provide a tangible, long-term solution for re-housing Brighton's homeless at all.

"Whilst Brighton's growing housing crisis is a very real problem, particularly for those with a history of homelessness, where have we come to when a property developer such as QED can legitimately charge £650 per month to live in a shipping container?"

Comments (17)

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7:12am Tue 13 May 14

Maxwell's Ghost says...

If it costs taxpayers £650 a month to house people in a shipping container there is something seriously wrong here.
If it costs taxpayers £650 a month to house people in a shipping container there is something seriously wrong here. Maxwell's Ghost
  • Score: 21

7:24am Tue 13 May 14

We love Red Billy says...

Drive past "junkie towers" every day. Thought there was a police car and an ambulance permanently parked there. Thank you Green party for passing this through planning.
Drive past "junkie towers" every day. Thought there was a police car and an ambulance permanently parked there. Thank you Green party for passing this through planning. We love Red Billy
  • Score: 15

7:25am Tue 13 May 14

HJarrs says...

Ultimately, we are paying the price of 30 years of disasterous housing policies that has led to a shortage of high quality social housing.
Ultimately, we are paying the price of 30 years of disasterous housing policies that has led to a shortage of high quality social housing. HJarrs
  • Score: 4

8:31am Tue 13 May 14

Eugenius says...

We love Red Billy wrote:
Drive past "junkie towers" every day. Thought there was a police car and an ambulance permanently parked there. Thank you Green party for passing this through planning.
It had unanimous, cross-party support at planning committee.
[quote][p][bold]We love Red Billy[/bold] wrote: Drive past "junkie towers" every day. Thought there was a police car and an ambulance permanently parked there. Thank you Green party for passing this through planning.[/p][/quote]It had unanimous, cross-party support at planning committee. Eugenius
  • Score: -5

8:41am Tue 13 May 14

Eugenius says...

Maxwell's Ghost wrote:
If it costs taxpayers £650 a month to house people in a shipping container there is something seriously wrong here.
But the shipping container is just a vessel for a decent studio flat, with its own front door and capsule bathroom/shower unit. No reason why the pre-fab construction should make it cheaper than regular bedsits. They use these for student accommodation in Amsterdam.
[quote][p][bold]Maxwell's Ghost[/bold] wrote: If it costs taxpayers £650 a month to house people in a shipping container there is something seriously wrong here.[/p][/quote]But the shipping container is just a vessel for a decent studio flat, with its own front door and capsule bathroom/shower unit. No reason why the pre-fab construction should make it cheaper than regular bedsits. They use these for student accommodation in Amsterdam. Eugenius
  • Score: -2

8:45am Tue 13 May 14

Joshiman says...

Charity what charity.Rents paid for by the taxpayer goes to the landlords.
Cheap converted containers with a current return of £650 per month.What an a nice earner .
Charity what charity.Rents paid for by the taxpayer goes to the landlords. Cheap converted containers with a current return of £650 per month.What an a nice earner . Joshiman
  • Score: 12

8:52am Tue 13 May 14

kopite_rob says...

HJarrs wrote:
Ultimately, we are paying the price of 30 years of disasterous housing policies that has led to a shortage of high quality social housing.
So why the hell are the council wantonly removing family housing stock to developers and landlords to give accomodation to University students?
It reduces housing stock bumping up prices.
Reduces the income from Council tax.
Places further burden on Council services for those that pay for them.
[quote][p][bold]HJarrs[/bold] wrote: Ultimately, we are paying the price of 30 years of disasterous housing policies that has led to a shortage of high quality social housing.[/p][/quote]So why the hell are the council wantonly removing family housing stock to developers and landlords to give accomodation to University students? It reduces housing stock bumping up prices. Reduces the income from Council tax. Places further burden on Council services for those that pay for them. kopite_rob
  • Score: 24

9:06am Tue 13 May 14

Eugenius says...

Joshiman wrote:
Charity what charity.Rents paid for by the taxpayer goes to the landlords.
Cheap converted containers with a current return of £650 per month.What an a nice earner .
Andy Winter sets out the figures on his blog:

"QED have invested over £900,000 in the development. Over the five years that this development will be in place, QED’s profit will be less than £36,000, or a return of less than 4%. The figure of £1.4 million quoted by the journalist for the amount that QED “could have netted” is about half a million pounds off the mark."
[quote][p][bold]Joshiman[/bold] wrote: Charity what charity.Rents paid for by the taxpayer goes to the landlords. Cheap converted containers with a current return of £650 per month.What an a nice earner .[/p][/quote]Andy Winter sets out the figures on his blog: "QED have invested over £900,000 in the development. Over the five years that this development will be in place, QED’s profit will be less than £36,000, or a return of less than 4%. The figure of £1.4 million quoted by the journalist for the amount that QED “could have netted” is about half a million pounds off the mark." Eugenius
  • Score: -7

9:14am Tue 13 May 14

Eugenius says...

kopite_rob wrote:
HJarrs wrote:
Ultimately, we are paying the price of 30 years of disasterous housing policies that has led to a shortage of high quality social housing.
So why the hell are the council wantonly removing family housing stock to developers and landlords to give accomodation to University students?
It reduces housing stock bumping up prices.
Reduces the income from Council tax.
Places further burden on Council services for those that pay for them.
It's not that the council is removing family housing stock, the problem is a lack of authority to turn down HMO licenses (I assume you're talking about conversions rather than new halls of residence). The Green administration has recognised the issue of "studentification" and proposed some districts should in future should have a quota of student housing - this is in the new City Plan which is currently going through the government's long-winded inspection process.
[quote][p][bold]kopite_rob[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]HJarrs[/bold] wrote: Ultimately, we are paying the price of 30 years of disasterous housing policies that has led to a shortage of high quality social housing.[/p][/quote]So why the hell are the council wantonly removing family housing stock to developers and landlords to give accomodation to University students? It reduces housing stock bumping up prices. Reduces the income from Council tax. Places further burden on Council services for those that pay for them.[/p][/quote]It's not that the council is removing family housing stock, the problem is a lack of authority to turn down HMO licenses (I assume you're talking about conversions rather than new halls of residence). The Green administration has recognised the issue of "studentification" and proposed some districts should in future should have a quota of student housing - this is in the new City Plan which is currently going through the government's long-winded inspection process. Eugenius
  • Score: -8

9:18am Tue 13 May 14

Max Ripple says...

Maxwell's Ghost wrote:
If it costs taxpayers £650 a month to house people in a shipping container there is something seriously wrong here.
I'm sorry - but £650 per month for a container!!! Rip off!!!
I have a very nice studio in hove which is rented out for £550 per month. Fair price, lovely place built of bricks and mortar, good heating, fab neighbours and close to town centre. BHT are ripping the council off. We as council tax payers are paying for this.
[quote][p][bold]Maxwell's Ghost[/bold] wrote: If it costs taxpayers £650 a month to house people in a shipping container there is something seriously wrong here.[/p][/quote]I'm sorry - but £650 per month for a container!!! Rip off!!! I have a very nice studio in hove which is rented out for £550 per month. Fair price, lovely place built of bricks and mortar, good heating, fab neighbours and close to town centre. BHT are ripping the council off. We as council tax payers are paying for this. Max Ripple
  • Score: 18

9:36am Tue 13 May 14

Eugenius says...

Max Ripple wrote:
Maxwell's Ghost wrote:
If it costs taxpayers £650 a month to house people in a shipping container there is something seriously wrong here.
I'm sorry - but £650 per month for a container!!! Rip off!!!
I have a very nice studio in hove which is rented out for £550 per month. Fair price, lovely place built of bricks and mortar, good heating, fab neighbours and close to town centre. BHT are ripping the council off. We as council tax payers are paying for this.
Well they're a charitable housing trust who are preventing people from ending up sleeping on the streets. I'm pretty sure they're not turning a profit on this, and probably saving tax payers' money through their intervention work.
[quote][p][bold]Max Ripple[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Maxwell's Ghost[/bold] wrote: If it costs taxpayers £650 a month to house people in a shipping container there is something seriously wrong here.[/p][/quote]I'm sorry - but £650 per month for a container!!! Rip off!!! I have a very nice studio in hove which is rented out for £550 per month. Fair price, lovely place built of bricks and mortar, good heating, fab neighbours and close to town centre. BHT are ripping the council off. We as council tax payers are paying for this.[/p][/quote]Well they're a charitable housing trust who are preventing people from ending up sleeping on the streets. I'm pretty sure they're not turning a profit on this, and probably saving tax payers' money through their intervention work. Eugenius
  • Score: -12

9:37am Tue 13 May 14

Thay Qon U says...

Maxwell's Ghost wrote:
If it costs taxpayers £650 a month to house people in a shipping container there is something seriously wrong here.
What a surprise:- the £650/month rent being charged happens to 'max out' the BHCC Local Housing Allowance threshold for eligible rent for a 1 bedroom property for Housing Benefit calculation purposes. How fortunate for the landlord, or an opportunity to profiteer from a group of vulnerable tenants and the public purse?
[quote][p][bold]Maxwell's Ghost[/bold] wrote: If it costs taxpayers £650 a month to house people in a shipping container there is something seriously wrong here.[/p][/quote]What a surprise:- the £650/month rent being charged happens to 'max out' the BHCC Local Housing Allowance threshold for eligible rent for a 1 bedroom property for Housing Benefit calculation purposes. How fortunate for the landlord, or an opportunity to profiteer from a group of vulnerable tenants and the public purse? Thay Qon U
  • Score: 15

10:58am Tue 13 May 14

Andy R says...

Thay Qon U wrote:
Maxwell's Ghost wrote:
If it costs taxpayers £650 a month to house people in a shipping container there is something seriously wrong here.
What a surprise:- the £650/month rent being charged happens to 'max out' the BHCC Local Housing Allowance threshold for eligible rent for a 1 bedroom property for Housing Benefit calculation purposes. How fortunate for the landlord, or an opportunity to profiteer from a group of vulnerable tenants and the public purse?
..which puts them in the bottom 30% of the local market. What's your point?

The problem is the lack of affordable housebuilding and the systematic flogging off of what we had. There are far more egregious examples of profiteering from housing if you're that interested.
[quote][p][bold]Thay Qon U[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Maxwell's Ghost[/bold] wrote: If it costs taxpayers £650 a month to house people in a shipping container there is something seriously wrong here.[/p][/quote]What a surprise:- the £650/month rent being charged happens to 'max out' the BHCC Local Housing Allowance threshold for eligible rent for a 1 bedroom property for Housing Benefit calculation purposes. How fortunate for the landlord, or an opportunity to profiteer from a group of vulnerable tenants and the public purse?[/p][/quote]..which puts them in the bottom 30% of the local market. What's your point? The problem is the lack of affordable housebuilding and the systematic flogging off of what we had. There are far more egregious examples of profiteering from housing if you're that interested. Andy R
  • Score: -3

11:43am Tue 13 May 14

rolivan says...

This is probably why the Company in The Netherlands couldn't sell any more if the insulation is not adequate.Who is paying for the work to rectify this problem and why is it that the Housing Trust are subsidising heating costs why aren't QED liable for this . As for them only making £40,000 over the term of the lease they will still be left with an asset which has been paid for by BHT . So although it doesn't sound like a lot they haven't had to really spend anything because costs are guaranteed in the form of payments from BHT.
This is probably why the Company in The Netherlands couldn't sell any more if the insulation is not adequate.Who is paying for the work to rectify this problem and why is it that the Housing Trust are subsidising heating costs why aren't QED liable for this . As for them only making £40,000 over the term of the lease they will still be left with an asset which has been paid for by BHT . So although it doesn't sound like a lot they haven't had to really spend anything because costs are guaranteed in the form of payments from BHT. rolivan
  • Score: 1

12:31pm Tue 13 May 14

Goldenwight says...

Some years ago I found myself on the streets and got put up in privately owned social housing.

Due to an administrative error, I received the housing benefit cheque once for £300 a week. I was astounded, since at that time the local council would only pay £90 a week for a bedsit.

Now, if you visit ANY local homeless centre and ask for a list of private landlords in the area, they will almost certainly say they don't have one. So you will wind up rough sleeping or sofa surfing until such time as you can be aqueezed into one of their projects while at the same time private accommodation stands empty. Why should this be? Well, if they just refer you on they get nothing. If you are homeless and using their services, such as showers, postal addresses, health services- they get a healthy subsidy. And when you move into their project (regardless of whether you need or want 24 hour support) they are onto a good little earner- they get money as long as they keep you, and you have no security- they can throw you out with no notice.

And that is the basic problem with housing charities- it is such a moneyspinner that there is no incentive to move non-problem tenants on.
Some years ago I found myself on the streets and got put up in privately owned social housing. Due to an administrative error, I received the housing benefit cheque once for £300 a week. I was astounded, since at that time the local council would only pay £90 a week for a bedsit. Now, if you visit ANY local homeless centre and ask for a list of private landlords in the area, they will almost certainly say they don't have one. So you will wind up rough sleeping or sofa surfing until such time as you can be aqueezed into one of their projects while at the same time private accommodation stands empty. Why should this be? Well, if they just refer you on they get nothing. If you are homeless and using their services, such as showers, postal addresses, health services- they get a healthy subsidy. And when you move into their project (regardless of whether you need or want 24 hour support) they are onto a good little earner- they get money as long as they keep you, and you have no security- they can throw you out with no notice. And that is the basic problem with housing charities- it is such a moneyspinner that there is no incentive to move non-problem tenants on. Goldenwight
  • Score: 7

7:06pm Tue 13 May 14

Maxwell's Ghost says...

If you trawl the rental adverts in the city, a three bedroom place can be rented at just over a grand which is just over £300 a room/ per person. Why is a shipping container costing £650 a month?
Clearly this is a scheme where the maximum allowance for housing benefit is being claimed and bears no relation to the real value of the rental cost.
This is clearly another scheme helping to fuel high rental prices.
Along the coast there are hundreds of mobile homes which lay mainly empty in winter, surely it would be cheaper to hire these off peak.
If you trawl the rental adverts in the city, a three bedroom place can be rented at just over a grand which is just over £300 a room/ per person. Why is a shipping container costing £650 a month? Clearly this is a scheme where the maximum allowance for housing benefit is being claimed and bears no relation to the real value of the rental cost. This is clearly another scheme helping to fuel high rental prices. Along the coast there are hundreds of mobile homes which lay mainly empty in winter, surely it would be cheaper to hire these off peak. Maxwell's Ghost
  • Score: 3

7:46pm Tue 13 May 14

Skidrow says...

Eugenius wrote:
Joshiman wrote:
Charity what charity.Rents paid for by the taxpayer goes to the landlords.
Cheap converted containers with a current return of £650 per month.What an a nice earner .
Andy Winter sets out the figures on his blog:

"QED have invested over £900,000 in the development. Over the five years that this development will be in place, QED’s profit will be less than £36,000, or a return of less than 4%. The figure of £1.4 million quoted by the journalist for the amount that QED “could have netted” is about half a million pounds off the mark."
Lets to the arithmetic; 36 x £650 x12 x 5 = £1.4m max unless LHA goes up.

So to get only £936,000 (the £900k investment and £36k profit) they need to have void periods of about a third, or 12 out of 36 units being unoccupied at any one time. Hardly competent landlording is it?
[quote][p][bold]Eugenius[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Joshiman[/bold] wrote: Charity what charity.Rents paid for by the taxpayer goes to the landlords. Cheap converted containers with a current return of £650 per month.What an a nice earner .[/p][/quote]Andy Winter sets out the figures on his blog: "QED have invested over £900,000 in the development. Over the five years that this development will be in place, QED’s profit will be less than £36,000, or a return of less than 4%. The figure of £1.4 million quoted by the journalist for the amount that QED “could have netted” is about half a million pounds off the mark."[/p][/quote]Lets to the arithmetic; 36 x £650 x12 x 5 = £1.4m max unless LHA goes up. So to get only £936,000 (the £900k investment and £36k profit) they need to have void periods of about a third, or 12 out of 36 units being unoccupied at any one time. Hardly competent landlording is it? Skidrow
  • Score: 0

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