housing needs focus group

As part of Surrey Minority Ethnic Forum’s involvement in a Housing Needs Assessment for Epsom & Ewell Borough Council, we recently hosted a virtual focus group meeting for community and faith group leaders to talk about their collective housing needs

Last year Epsom & Ewell Borough Council engaged GL Hearn, a housing consultancy group, to run a survey on the housing needs of local populations. The aim was to establish what the housing needs of Black and minoritised ethnic communities are, and if these are different from the general population. SMEF and GL Hearn worked together to create the survey which was shared with our communities at the end of last year. 44 people completed the survey and their responses formed the basis of this focus group.

At the start of the focus group, GL Hearn shared their findings to date, including the survey and recent census data. This data shows that Black and ethnic minority households are:

  • More likely to live in over-crowded housing
  • Less likely to own their own home
  • More likely to live in housing which is in poor condition
  • More likely to live in urban areas
  • More likely to spend a larger proportion of their income on their housing costs.

However, people responding to the survey generally had a positive view of their neighbourhood.

The focus group was an opportunity for people to expand upon these findings.

Participants in the focus group said that they felt that housing – buying or renting – was becomong more and more unaffordable. Housing is also becoming more insecure – landlords are putting up rents or selling their property which forces tenants to find alternative accommodation.

Some people felt that becuase of high housing costs and limited availability of larger houses in the social rented sector, it is harder for multi-generational families to live together.  Some particpants noted that a lot of new housing development consists of high rise flats which isn’t suitable for larger families.

Others pointed out that some people do no not understand how to access the social hsouing system provided by local councils or their legal rights. 

People agreed that poor housing can contribute to mental health problems as people struggle to find suitable accommodation, are forced to move away from family, friends and places of worship or to remain in unhealthy relationships.

The findings of the research will be used to inform the Eposom & Ewell Local Plan but also national housing policy. You can contribute to the consultation here.