Building and Social Housing Foundation
The Building and Social Housing Foundation (BSHF) is an independent research organisation that identifies innovative housing policy and practice, promotes these ideas and examples and supports the exchange and transfer of good practice. It was established in 1976 and is based in Coalville in Leicestershire in the United Kingdom, but works both in the UK and internationally and in collaboration with a wide range of organisations. In 2006 BSHF was granted Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
BSHF's work focuses on three related areas of activity:
- identifying knowledge about innovative housing policy and practice
- producing knowledge about innovative housing policy and practice
- supporting the scaling up and transfer of innovative housing policy and practice
Identifying knowledge about innovative housing policy and practice
One of the principal ways in which BSHF identifies innovative housing is through the World Habitat Awards, which were established by the organisation in 1985 as part of its contribution to the United Nations International Year of Shelter for the Homeless. Two awards are given annually to projects that provide practical and innovative solutions to current housing challenges throughout the world.
Entries are assessed by a panel of international judges. A cash award of £10,000 and a trophy are presented to each of the winners of the Award, usually at the annual UN-HABITAT global celebration of World Habitat Day.
Producing knowledge about innovative housing policy and practice
As an independent housing research organisation, BSHF carries out a range of research activities. Most of the research is carried out in-house or in collaboration with other organisations and some is externally commissioned or sponsored.
As part of BSHF’s work to promote innovation in UK housing policy and practice, BSHF holds a three-day consultation event each year at St George’s House in Windsor Castle, which brings together leading experts and practitioners to discuss a theme of current UK housing concern and produce recommendations for action. Recent themes include:
- Creating the conditions for new settlements in England (2013)
- Building new homes for rent (2012)
- Increasing the diversity of housing supply (2011)
- Support with housing costs (2010)
Research areas within the international programme focus on the key housing issues identified through the World Habitat Award competition and the processes by which good housing practices can be effectively transferred including:
- Participatory housing processes
- Informal settlement upgrading
- Health and housing
BSHF also works in partnership with European social housing providers to investigate and identify ways of addressing barriers to the development of nearly-zero energy homes.
Supporting the scaling up and transfer of innovative housing policy and practice
Following its Windsor Consultation events BSHF undertakes subsequent work to promote the adoption of key recommendations both nationally and locally. In doing so the organisation helps to ensure that promising policy and practice innovations are developed and implemented.
BSHF also works to ensure that the good practice identified through the World Habitat Awards is shared, adapted and transferred to other countries and contexts. This is achieved by organising peer exchange activities with winning projects, providing bursaries to help meet costs for those attending, as well as producing information.
The organisation also supports and facilitates a range of other knowledge-sharing activities, including workshops, seminars and community exchange activities between organisations, both in the UK and overseas and actively collaborates with national and international organisations, to support the transfer of good housing practice.
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