Unity Homes & Enterprise: tackling housing inequality

Unity Homes & Enterprise is helping to address inequality in West Yorkshire, by providing quality homes, offices and new opportunities for people from a range of ethnic backgrounds.

Social Problem

People from black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) groups in the UK are much more likely to experience poverty and housing deprivation.[1]

Solution

For over 30 years, Unity Homes and Enterprise (Unity) has been working to ensure that people can access quality, affordable homes, no matter their race, religion or background. The housing association now manages more than 1,300 properties in West Yorkshire with a particular focus on Leeds. However, Unity’s full mission is to ‘provide housing choice, improve life opportunities and address inequalities,’ so the support it offers tenants goes far beyond housing. Unity is also helping to break down barriers to employment, by helping tenants to write CVs, prepare for interviews and search for jobs. It arranges work experience, apprenticeships and volunteering opportunities, and runs three enterprise centres which accommodates more than 80 local businesses.

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Loan

Unity approached Charity Bank for a loan to develop new housing. One of these developments is a scheme of six houses and eight flats on Armley Ridge Road, which was completed in 2019.

The Charity Bank loan also helped to unlock additional funding for the development, including a grant from Homes England.

Impact

Unity’s holistic approach to tackling inequality is helping people to overcome housing deprivation, learn new skills and gain employment. The association believes in offering quality homes – its new tenant approval rating is an impressive 99% – and building multi-cultural communities where people of all backgrounds feel welcome.

“We have a strong social purpose and high ethical standards, so Charity Bank is a good fit for us. We’ve built an excellent relationship with the bank – our finance team like having a named person to contact, who understands us and is genuinely interested in how we’re progressing.”

Ali Akbor, Chief Executive of Unity Homes and Enterprise