Hopes for community
homes rise

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A Leeds-based housing association plans to boost its properties by up to 200 by the end of the decade.

Unity Homes and Enterprise, which was set-up as a community housing association in 1987 to address the needs of black and minority ethnic communities in the city, is preparing to celebrate its 30th anniversary next year.

Ali Akbor, who will be marking 18 years as the association’s chief executive in January, said: “When I joined Unity, we managed fewer than 700 homes. We now have responsibility for more than 1,200 properties with advanced plans to increase that number by up to 200 before the end of the decade. This includes the official opening of 26 new properties in Leeds - at Hunslet and Little London - in the coming weeks.”

Unity’s initial focus was on Chapeltown but over the years its activities have widened to other areas including Harehills, Beeston, Holbeck and Chapel Allerton.

Its work now includes supporting local entrepreneurial activity through Unity Enterprise, a subsidiary company, and helping local people to access jobs and training with assistance from Unity Employment Services.

Mr Akbor said he believed the work of BME-led organisations such as Unity Homes and Enterprise was more important now than for many years.

He said: “As we look back over the three decades of Unity’s existence, we must acknowledge the advances this country has made on equality and diversity. We’ve been progressive in comparison with many other nations. But to maintain that lead, these issues must return to the top of the policy agenda where they haven’t been of late. The United Kingdom faces new challenges which have been exacerbated in the wake of the EU referendum.”