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Durham University

Centre for Social Justice and Community Action

Social Housing

Disposal: the Housing Crisis in Horden’s Numbered Streets.

This research project investigated the worsening housing crisis in the ex-mining village of Horden. It was conducted by Professor Rachel Pain with students from the Department of Geography at Durham University, in association with Horden Residents Community Association.

In September 2015, Accent Housing Association began disposal at auction of empty houses in the “numbered streets” of Horden. This was undertaken without consultation with the community, in contradiction to promises that had been made to tenants over several years, and despite local plans being drawn up for a community-owned housing scheme. The disposal was permitted by the Homes and Communities Agency, and made easier by recent changes to government policy that affect social and rented housing.

Key Findings:

  • The decision to dispose of housing looks set to lead to the worst possible outcomes for the community.
  • Residents face deteriorating condition of housing, environmental hazards, social problems including crime and disorder, fear and uncertainty about the future and value of properties, and declining community spirit. Sales at auction are very likely to worsen these problems.
  • The “disposal” is not only of empty properties, but effectively of responsibility by national government and local housing agencies for the community’s continuing welfare, resilience and ability to self-help.
  • Horden has especially strong community assets. The village has many attractions, voluntarism is strong, and Horden’s heritage is a resource rather than a hindrance, leading to strong community spirit, identity and pride. Horden is thus well positioned to build an alternative future around its housing.
  • Ex-industrial areas like Horden require additional support and financial resources to help residents to protect and sustain these assets and improve life for others.

The report is illustrated with new work by the photographer Carl Joyce. Carl’s previous exhibition ‘A Miner’s Son’ also focused on Horden:

The final report can be downloaded here: