Steven Black, has been elected vice chairman of Tenants First Housing Co-operative – Britain’s largest housing co-operative. At 26 he is believed to be the youngest vice chair in more than 200 social landlords in Scotland, including housing authorities, associations and co-operatives.
Steven, from Peterhead, works as a night bus driver and also volunteers as youth worker with local youth clubs.
Commenting on his election, J’ who is the chair of Tenants First, said:
“I am delighted to see Steven Black take the step up to vice chair of Tenants First. Along with his focus on encouraging more involvement from young people, Steven has a passion for technology. In his new position, I am sure that Steven will champion the co-operative’s focus on innovation.
“Steven’s election comes at a particularly interesting time. Tenants First has just launched the Donside village development in Aberdeen, which is the largest affordable housing development ever seen in the North East of Scotland. We are also in the midst of our programme, working in partnership with the Mackintosh School of Architecture, to develop zero carbon housing.”
Steven Black recently addressed a social housing conference about the importance of involving younger people in the management of housing associations and co-operatives.
Speaking to an audience of representatives from Scotland’s housing associations and co-operatives in COSLA’s Edinburgh headquarters, Steven said that involving young people was not only important for the future of registered social landlords (RSL), but it was also important to get a different view from a younger age group.
Steven, who first became involved with the management committee of Tenants First six years ago, explains:
“By becoming vice chair of the largest housing co-operative in Britain I hope it will encourage other young people to get involved in the running of their housing association or co-operative. I hope it also leads other housing organisations to encourage younger people to get involved.
“Young people see their communities in a different light. They can give housing associations and co-operatives a clearer understanding of what it is like to be a young person in social housing. By getting young people involved, they can also exercise peer pressure to encourage other young people to respect and look after the community.
“Young people can easily become frustrated and discouraged by what they see as ‘red tape’. When I first got involved, it was as a co-optee. But the constitution meant that I initially had no voting powers. That could easily put a young person off, as I felt I had no real voice.
“Sometimes there can even be a problem with the timing of meetings. If they are organised during the day, then most young people will be unable to attend because they will be working or studying.”
Noting that there is often a problem with a lack of housing suitable for younger tenants, Steven challenged the delegates to ask themselves if their housing association or co-operative was really youth friendly.
In 2009, Steven was appointed as Scotland’s youngest tenant assessor to work with the Scottish Housing Regulator of more than 200 social landlords, including housing authorities, associations and co-operatives. So far he has worked on five inspections.
Tenants First, based in Aberdeen, is Britain’s largest housing co-operative with 1,396 properties in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Angus and Glasgow. Tenants First is a non-profit organisation owned and run by its members for the benefit of members.