Black-run housing association dragged into community group funding row

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The Independent Online

The future of one of Britain's biggest black-led organisations will be decided tomorrow when the Ujima Housing Association is expected to disappear in a buyout by London and Quadrant housing group.

Despite assets of 5,000 properties worth around 1bn, Ujima, whose patron is poet Benjamin Zephaniah, is expected to be effectively bought by its rival for 30m. If approved it will mark the end of a powerful symbol of black social entrepreneurship.

Three Ujima board members have been axed including chair Adonis Daniel and chief executive Keith Kerr.

The timing is significant, according to the association's supporters, coming as questions are being asked about black-run community organisations funded by the Greater London Authority. Last night Mr Daniel attacked the move. "I'm shocked and stunned," he said.

Ujima was placed under supervision in October by the Housing Corporation following questions over its governance. In early November an interim board launched a financial analysis. This was reviewed by consultants KPMG who concluded that Ujima was in a very critical situation.

Mr Daniel said he believed the move was prompted because Ujima was too independent and frequently questioned Housing Corporation regulations. He fears the merger will mean Ujima will lose its identity.

The merger decision has also met stiff opposition from Lord Ouseley, former head of the Commission for Racial Equality. He said: "We're appalled by this aggressive attack and the way Yvette Cooper, the housing minister, is sitting back. It has left black-led community groups feeling they've been kicked in the teeth."

Neither the Housing Corporation nor London and Quadrant were available for comment last night.

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