News: Staff at Shian HA open new housing scheme in honour of founding member

Housing association staff gathered on Thursday to commemorate the life of  a former colleague and to open a new affordable housing scheme in their honour.

Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) association Shian HA, together with friends and family of the late Dorothy Smith, launched the Hesta Annex in Tottenham, north London. A founder member of Shian, Ms Smith was the association’s treasurer until her death in 2002.

The new development, situated on Dorothy Smith Lane, comprises of 13 units in total: two four-bedroom and three-bedroom houses (for social rent), and four two-bedroom and four one-bedroom flats (divided evenly to provide for social and intermediate rents).

Founded in 1988, Shian was formed during a period of heightened racial tensions. With a need to provide permanent housing to help young offenders move away from a life of crime, and to cater for the general housing requirements of ethnic minorities in Hackney, London, Shian’s stock has gradually risen. It remains an independent BME-led housing organisation.

Family of the late Dorothy Smith

“We had a lot of trouble getting this scheme up and running. [But] it’s finally come to fruition and we’re very happy,” said Aaron Whitaker, Shian HA chairman. “Our big focus at the moment is ex-offenders.

“We’ve got the Makeda Weaver housing scheme, particularly targeted at young men who are in danger of knife and gun crime. But the people living at these properties will be mostly nominated by the council: homeless people in the borough who are on their waiting list.”

In attendance was also Lara Oyedele, chair of BMENational – an umbrella body that represents over 75 BME housing associations in England and which works with the National Housing Federation (NHF) on policy to provide platform for BME housing issues.

“It’s heartening to see such beautiful, large houses being made available by a small housing association,” Oyedele said. “In this period of gloom, fear and doom, seeing these properties put a smile on my face. I am proud to see this shining example of what BME associations, like Shian, can achieve.”

Following brief speeches from Shian HA staff and poignant recollections of Ms Smith by close members of her family, a blue plaque with her name was unveiled on the front of one of the new buildings.

“I think Dorothy would have been very shy and would be telling us what a big fuss we’re making over nothing,” said Whitaker, smiling. “Dorothy spent a lot of time with Shian developing the association and was an important figure that helped us to survive. She was an amazing person who left us too early.”

This article is reproduced courtesy of 24dash.com.

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