Leeds housing group sets 2016 goals

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A housing association has set itself three New Year resolutions to help boost the community.

Unity Homes and Enterprise in Leeds is entering 2016 with a renewed determination to deliver affordable housing, regenerate local communities and help small businesses grow.

The association was established in 1987 to address the needs of black and minority ethnic communities (BME) in the city. It now manages almost 1,200 properties for tenants from all communities and ethnic backgrounds.

Chief executive Ali Akbor said: “In the last financial year we increased turnover by six per cent to £5.6m and invested more than £1.3m in home improvements.”

Unity built 80 new houses and is about to start building 120 more on sites across Leeds, the largest construction programme in its history.

But Mr Akbor – who also serves as secretary/treasurer of BME National – was keen to stress Unity was not just about providing social housing.

He said: “We want to create economically viable neighbourhoods. Our subsidiary company, Unity Enterprise, supports local entrepreneurial activity and operates three business hubs close to Leeds city centre. These include Unity Business Centre, which is now home to 80 businesses, and the Leeds Media Centre where local TV station Made in Leeds has its studios.”

Unity Employment Services (UES) has also been established to support Unity tenants and surrounding communities access employment and training. Last year UES helped 60 people into work, delivered accredited skills training to 61 others and enabled 20 to gain work experience.

He added: “Unity works incredibly hard to provide support to as many individuals, families and businesses as we can. We go into 2016 with vigour and the clear purpose of continuing to make a positive impact on people’s lives.”

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