Published: 08:00, 30 June 2014
| Updated: 08:15, 30 June 2014
A housing association has defended its policy to give priority to people from Asian communities at one of its properties.
Orbit Housing has been accused of discriminating against white people after an advert appeared online.
The ad was for flats available at Apni Haweli, a supported housing scheme in Chatham. It said priority would be given to applicants from Asian communities.
It prompted a backlash on social media and several people contacted the KM Group to complain.
Leighann Charlotte Felstead posted on the Medway Messenger’s Facebook page: “I and a lot of others think this is disgraceful. This wouldn’t be allowed if it was written as priority to white community. Surely this is discrimination.”
Tony Burke posted: “If this was anyone else discriminating through race, the council would not allow [it].”
But Orbit Housing says the sheltered housing scheme is designed for ethnic minorities and, although they accept applicants from other backgrounds, Asian applicants will be given priority because the property better suits their needs.
Apni Haweli was set up in 2002 as a joint partnership between Orbit and Medway Council. It was specifically created to ensure there was sufficient housing for the older Asian community in Chatham.
Angela Rankin, head of independent living for Orbit South said: “Medway has a good supply of sheltered accommodation, with about 95% not having any restrictions in terms of eligibility based on ethnic background.
“The Asian community remains under-represented in sheltered housing in Medway.
"Due to the nature of the scheme, additional resources such as translation services, can also be provided that would not otherwise be as easily available at other sheltered housing schemes.
"This wouldn’t be allowed if it was written as priority to white community. Surely this is discrimination" - Leighann Charlotte Felstead
“We are happy to accept applications from everyone who is eligible for sheltered accommodation in Medway and not everyone living at the scheme is of Asian descent.
“Because the needs of those from an Asian background can be better met at Apni Haweli, priority will be given to those applications.”
A day centre for elderly woman, which has been based at Apni Haweli since 2007, was saved from closure last week after Orbit Housing stepped in.
The centre was previously run by the council, but its funding was axed. Orbit has allowed the women to use the building for free so weekly meetings can continue.
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