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Fake accents and 'white lies' hide stigma of social housing

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The team based its research on case studies of tenants and property managers at three Dublin social housing estates, including the regenerated complexes at Ballymun and Fatima Mansions Stock (Stock picture)

The team based its research on case studies of tenants and property managers at three Dublin social housing estates, including the regenerated complexes at Ballymun and Fatima Mansions Stock (Stock picture)

PA

The team based its research on case studies of tenants and property managers at three Dublin social housing estates, including the regenerated complexes at Ballymun and Fatima Mansions Stock (Stock picture)

People living in social housing sometimes feel pressure to adopt 'posh' accents or lie about their housing situation due to the ongoing stigma of living in council properties.

A study conducted by a team of researchers from the UCD School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice, found the stigma of social housing as the so-called "tenure of last resort" is an on-going problem, according to Simon Brooke, head of policy for the ClĂșid Housing agency.

The team based its research on case studies of tenants and property managers at three Dublin social housing estates, including the regenerated complexes at Ballymun and Fatima Mansions and the mixed social housing complex at Clarion Quay in Dublin's Docklands.

While "the vast majority of social housing estates aren't stigmatised" and many residents are proud of where they live, according to report author Michelle Norris, there is still a negative perception both within and outside social housing communities.

"Some people have preconceived negative views about social housing tenants who are depicted as work shy, exploiting the benefits system, living rent-free and likely to engage in anti-social behaviour," Mr Brooke said at the launch of the report in Dublin yesterday.

Even though this stigma is "far from universal" and tenants in many social housing estates "feel a strong sense of pride in their community", for those tenants who do feel stigmatised, the "effects of this can be acute and have a significant impact on their lives," he said.

Report co-author Michael Byrne quoted some residents of the former tower block complex in Ballymun who said they don't follow the news any more because of the negative way in which the media portray the area. He quoted one resident who said he used to "tell white lies" to co-workers about where he lived.

Submissive

Others engaged in what the report called "submissive-type reactions" to stigma by "internalising the negative perceptions or by projecting these perceptions onto others in the same community".

"People may engage in self-monitoring stigma-minimising practices, for example by changing their accent," the authors wrote.

Meanwhile, Housing Minister Simon Coveney, who launched the report, announced 47,000 new social housing units are to come on stream over the next five years.

Irish Independent