The chief executive of Leeds-based housing association Unity Homes and Enterprise has written to new Housing Minister Alok Sharma to congratulate him on his appointment and invite him to visit affordable housing projects in the city.
Alok Sharma, the MP for Reading West, has been promoted to the role of Minister of State for Housing and Planning after spending the previous 12 months serving as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
He replaces Gavin Barwell who lost his seat in last week’s General Election and has since been named as chief of staff to the Prime Minister.
Ali Akbor, chief executive of Unity Homes and Enterprise, said: "I welcome Mr Sharma’s elevation and hope he can bring some stability and longevity to the role.
“He is the 15th housing minister we have had since 1997 and the sixth to hold the position since the Conservatives came to power in 2010.
“His predecessor, Gavin Barwell, deserves credit for his efforts in pushing housing further up the Government’s domestic policy agenda. I hope he will continue to do this as Theresa May’s chief of staff.
“The Conservative General Election manifesto recommitted the Government to deliver a million homes by the end of 2020, plus a further 500,000 by the end of 2022.
“It also promised to give greater flexibility to housing associations to increase their housing stock, including specialist housing stock in which Unity excels. We want to play our full part in this and our track record shows that we are very well-equipped to do so.”
Unity Housing Association was formed in 1987 with the objective of building a strong, BME-led, community housing association to address the needs of black and minority ethnic communities in Leeds. The initial focus was on Chapeltown, but this has widened to other areas of the city including Harehills, Beeston, Holbeck and Chapel Allerton.
Unity now owns more than 1,200 properties for tenants from all communities and ethnic backgrounds.
Mr Akbor, who also serves as secretary/treasurer of BME National, a collective of over 60 BME housing associations in England, added: “I have written to Alok Sharma to pass on our good wishes and invite him to see the exciting work that Unity is doing to deliver high quality affordable homes for people across Leeds.
“As a South-East MP, I believe it is vital that he spends time in places like West Yorkshire to hear what he can do to assist ambitious associations such as Unity to work alongside the Government in tackling the housing crisis.”