Systemic Change: Tenant Participation

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Publications: Systemic Change

Example: Pilot Project

This proposal follows the completion of the research funded under the Housing Agency Research Support Programme – 2020 Round 2, which examined how structured tenant participation in Irish Local Authority or State housing, incorporating human rights standards, and best practice models could be developed. In line with the recommendations of the Final Report. This set out a number of recommendations, including the establishment of three Pilot projects, on tenant participation in local authority housing in Dublin City, Mayo and South Dublin Councils. The Pilot projects would also address issues around tenants and the public sector duty set out in the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014.

The Housing Agency Research involved Three Dialogue Events in 2021 with Local Authority tenants, Housing staff, Councillors and SPC members in Dublin City, South Dublin and Mayo, as well as national Event in 2022.

The research and consultation revealed that while many Local Authority housing professionals had dedicated considerable time and effort in meaningful engagement with tenants, significant issues for meaningful tenant participation, such as community safety, developing inclusive and sustainable communities, and measures which would engage young people on estates in valuable community activities, are often not addressed at all.

It was recognised by all participants that there were major benefits for all parties from tenant consultation and participation. It was also accepted that this requires respecting and including tenant’s lived expertise in overall housing management policy and practice, giving real substance to the meaning of developing inclusive and sustainable communities.

While there is much enthusiasm for the establishment of a national association of Local Authority tenants, we feel that it could be premature to establish this without a full understanding and development of the appropriate organisational, cultural, capacity-building, administrative and social supports needed. In fact, all the research suggests that the success of such national organisations is dependent on the strength and resilience of a network of local organisations.

Thus, we are proposing that resources be dedicated towards developing a ‘bottom up’ approach to the issue – learning from pilot projects in three local authority areas, where we have established strong links. All these are different in geographical area, numbers of tenancies and size of organisation, but share the same issues. A strong collaborative working approach has already been generated in these authority areas, providing a valuable basis for the development of a model for a potential national organisation in the future.

This approach would therefore allow us to work with, and empower, tenants in an Action Learning project, that would build capacity for effective tenant participation. The essentially practical problem-solving nature of action research makes this approach attractive and relevant for the purposes of this project. It involves a cumulative series of stages by identifying a problem to be addressed, investigating it and improving practice. This is particularly relevant when a new approach is to be grafted on to an existing system and where improvement in practice changes over time. This learning and problem-solving approach generates knowledge and a continuous improvement in the process. In this context, the Action Learning Approach would clearly establish the benefits of tenant participation and help identify and overcome any structural and cultural barriers. It  offers a realistic and pragmatic step towards developing a human rights based national model of tenant participation in Ireland.

Here is the research report: Empowering Tenants: Protecting Human Rights

Example: Regeneration Reflection Process

In 2023 a wide group of stakeholders from Regeneration Boards and Forums came together and reflected on their operation and processes.   The events provided a space for safe and structured dialogue and the sharing of experience from different perspectives.  Those present engaged with questions regarding their current experience and how Board members would want to operate.  The following themes emerged as most important:

  • Communication 
  • Operation of Regeneration Boards  
  • Collaboration 
  • Social and Economic Integration
  • Current Living Conditions

The purpose of this series of  sessions was to collectively identify the actions and changes necessary to address the gap between the current experience and desired future in relation to these themes.  Board members including residents, community, residential and enterprise organisations, Dublin City Council senior and frontline personnel, elected representatives, statutory representatives from the Gardai and HSE and Independent Chairs and representatives from the Dept. of Environment were invited.

A Systemic Approach to Action Planning gave a framework for the sessions and was applied as follows:

  1. The first step was to map the key stakeholders within the system and bring them into a process whereby together they understand how the system is currently experienced from their different perspectives. This was the focus of our first dialogue and is reflected in the report from that event. It gives a clear picture of how the current system is experienced.
  1. The next step was to understand what each stakeholder wants their experience of participation to be which was the focus for the second dialogue.  The report outlines how those present began to define and agree the themes that need to be worked upon collectively.
  1. The third part of the process was to take each theme and explore what actions would need to happen to achieve the desired outcome within that theme. This will inevitably result in descriptions of changes to culture, structure and rules of engagement, communication, and behaviours in terms of how the various stakeholders will act and react. These descriptions guide the development of actions that address the gap between the current context and the desired future one. What follows then is a process of detailed action planning within each theme.
  1. The theme of communication was worked upon in mixed groups and resulted in a number of actions that will now be implemented and monitored at future sessions.

Example: Supporting the #add the 10th campaign

This campaign is to extend the equality legislation to include socio-economic discrimination along with the other nine grounds, gender, marital status, family status, age, disability, sexual orientation, race, religion, and membership of the Traveller community, in the Equal Status Acts.

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Systemic Change: Overview
Aligning Intention With Action
Policing Dialogue
Tenant Participation
Publications: Systemic Change