ONE of my biggest issues in my post bag is housing. Across the country, and my constituency is no exception, there is a shortage of social housing. Sometimes its not the quantity that is the problem, but the availability of suitably sized accommodation.
Solihull Borough has operated its social housing through an arm's length management organisation [ALMO], Solihull Community Housing, since 2004. This year it has just been awarded a three-star rating and is the first ALMO in the West Midlands to reach this standard.
Solihull Community Housing is making changes, especially in my constituency. Over the last year, CCTV and other security systems have been installed in the high rise blocks in North Solihull.
And this week I went to take a look at new solar panels that are being installed in the high rise accommodation in the area. Its not just about providing accommodation, but homes where people want to live and I feel Solihull Community Housing is making great headway in doing this.
Other innovative schemes include working with neighbour-hood policing teams and environ-mental charities to help make effective improvements.
In fact two tenants were recently selected from 740 nominees to receive the national 'Respect award for taking a stand' after giving evidence against antisocial behaviour. There is now a support group for witnesses working alongside a dedicated support officer.
There are also ways in which tenants can gain skills. Working with the environmental charity Groundwork, Solihull Community Housing has created a communal garden accessible for residents with mobility problems. This gave local young people the opportunity to learn gardening skills both during the construction and now as they maintain the garden.
The Pathway scheme operated by Solihull Community Housing provides free training in construction to the over 16s to help them into work. When I last checked, 50 local young people had gained employment in the construction industry. With the regeneration of this area, there will be an ongoing demand for such workers despite the credit crunch.
There are many other innovative schemes being implemented - no doubt the reason why Solihull Community Housing has achieved the three-star accolade.