Housing association rethinks provision

By Jonathan Kalmus, February 18, 2011

Manchester Jewish Housing Association has commissioned strategic studies ahead of a sea change in sheltered housing amid swingeing cuts in capital funding and an accommodation shortage.

MJHA provides 144 self-contained flats across four sheltered schemes in north Manchester and St Anne's near Blackpool.

Chief executive John Gryckiewicz has requested a survey by Salford University, part-funded by Manchester City Council, to assess the growing needs of the Jewish community.

The university's Salford Housing and Urban Studies Unit is to survey 250 families across Greater Manchester. The study, in conjunction with Bury and Salford councils, is backed by Manchester City Council chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein. A study Sir Howard commissioned in 2004 showed a potential crisis with those aged 75-plus accounting for 12 per cent of the local Jewish population, seven per cent above the regional average.

Mr Gryckiewicz said preparations needed to be made for a population spike. He also revealed he is seeking to sell the 1970s Carmel Court scheme of 56 flats in Crumpsall and move residents to a new development closer to the heart of the Jewish community, possibly in Broughton Park.

There is going to be a lot of unmet housing needs

"There will be a massive increase in people over the age of 80 as people live longer," he warned. "Anecdotal evidence tells us families are also struggling in the recession but we are trying to back this up with the survey. The Charedi community is growing quickly. Our review will not favour any particular persuasion, but we are looking at all the needs of Jewish housing."

Former Leeds Jewish Housing Association chief executive Sheila Saunders has also been drafted in to produce a strategic review for the MJHA.

"My understanding is that there is going be a lot of unmet housing need in Manchester, which arguably needs to be met by non-Jewish providers," she said.

The studies are due to be published by April. It is likely that a proposal of teaming the MJHA with a mainstream housing association, but avoiding merger, will be among the recommendations.

Last updated: 11:43am, February 18 2011