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Steve Biko Housing Association (SBHA) was established in 1982 (then called Liverpool 8 Housing Association) by a group of committed local Black people who were concerned about the difficulties Black people faced in accessing high quality social housing because of racial discrimination. Concerns that were confirmed by a Commission for Equality Investigation that served a non discrimination notice on Liverpool City Council.
The Liverpool 8 Housing Association was formally incorporated under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act in 1982 and was registered with the Housing Corporation as a housing association in 1987. In 1989 the Association was renamed in recognition of Steve Biko’s invaluable contribution towards the emancipation of the native peoples of South Africa.
In 1990 we developed our first scheme, Hector Peterson Court, in Toxteth Liverpool 8, providing 30 sheltered flats for the elderly and seven family houses. Hector Peterson Court was officially opened in 1992 by Mrs Nonsiekelo Biko accompanied by her son Nkosinathi Biko.
In 1996 CDS developed 156 properties on behalf of SBHA, which CDS leased to the Association with an option to purchase at a later date. We took up that option and our ownership increased to 191 homes.
We had many enquiries for One and Two bedroom general needs flats, however, we could not meet this demand as we did not have this type of property. We successfully negotiated with a number of mainstream housing associations to transfer properties of this type.
In May 2005 Arena HA (Your Housing Group) led the way by transferring 15 properties and at a later date transferred a further 7 properties. (22 properties in total).
Cosmopolitan HA followed, transferring 15 properties. We were successful in obtaining a grant from the Housing Corporation (now known as the Homes and Communities Agency) towards the cost of carrying out major repairs to these properties.
We also received transfer of two derelict buildings from Rodney HA and Liverpool Housing Trust. These properties were redeveloped, using HCA grant, bringing much needed properties back in to use.
In line with Liverpool City’s Housing Strategy we have developed low cost homeownership homes – using the shared ownership model. This has enabled BME families to take their first steps into home ownership.
2007 marked the 20th anniversary of Steve Biko HA. It also marked the 30th anniversary of the death of Steve Biko. To mark this special occasion Mrs Nonsiekelo Biko, accompanied by Nkosinathi Biko, Chief Executive of the Steve Biko Foundation, Obenewa Amposah International Partnerships Director, and Samora Biko visited the Association and were guests of honour at our 20th Anniversary Gala Dinner and Black History Month celebrations.
Date of birth: 18th December 1946, King William’s Town, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Date of death: 12th September 1977, Pretoria prison cell, South Africa
From an early age Steve Biko showed an interest in anti-Apartheid politics. While at medical school, he became involved with the National Union of South African Students (NUSAS). However, the union was dominated by white liberals and failed to represent the needs of black students, so he resigned in 1969 and founded the South African Students’ Organisation (SASO). SASO was involved in providing legal aid and medical clinics, as well as helping to develop cottage industries for disadvantaged black communities.
In 1972 he was one of the founders of the Black People’s Convention (BPC) working on social improvement projects around Durban. The BPC effectively brought together roughly 70 different black consciousness groups and associations. Steve Biko was elected as the first president of the BPC and was promptly expelled from medical school. He started working full time for the Black Community Programme (BCP) in Durban which he also helped found.
In 1973 He was ‘banned’ by the Apartheid government. Under the ‘ban’ he was restricted to his home town of Kings William’s Town in the Eastern Cape. He was detained and interrogated four times between August 1975 and September 1977 under Apartheid era antiterrorism legislation. On 21 August 1977 he was detained by the Eastern Cape security police and held in Port Elizabeth. From the Walmer police cells he was taken for interrogation at the security police headquarters. On 7 September he sustained a head injury during interrogation.
By 11 September he had slipped into a continual, semi-conscious state and the police physician recommended a transfer to hospital. He was, however, transported 1,200 km to Pretoria – a 12-hour journey which he made lying naked in the back of a Land Rover. A few hours later, on 12 September, alone and still naked, lying on the floor of a cell in the Pretoria Central Prison, he died from brain damage.
The brutal circumstances of Steve Biko’s death caused a worldwide outcry and he became a martyr and symbol of black resistance to the oppressive Apartheid regime.
Tribute to the Late Herbie Higgins MBE 13th May 1929 to 9th November 2011. Our dear friend Herbie passed away on 9th November 2011. Herbie was a founding Board member of Steve Biko Housing Association he served as Treasurer, Vice Chair and Tenant representative as a member of the Board until he retired in 2011 due to ill health.
In 1993 He received a Merit Award from the Federation of Black Housing Associations and was awarded an MBE from her majesty The Queen for outstanding community services in 1996. In 2003 he was presented with a Social Housing Lifetime Achievement Award and was listed in the Diverse Magazine Liverpool as one of top 50 influential Black Merseyside’s in 2008. In 2010 Steve Biko HA named one of our new developments on Mulgrave Street Toxteth ‘Herbie Higgins Court’ in his honour and recognition of his commitment to the Association and community over many years.
Herbie was many things to many people and was involved in numerous community and voluntary organisation over the years, very often spearheading the development of many projects and organisation, including Liverpool Stanley House Cultural Centre; The Council for Race Equality, The Merseyside Caribbean Centre in 1977 and launched the Merseyside Caribbean Carnival in 1978.
Herbie also formed the first lay visitor scheme (1981) for prisoners following the 1981 riots and was still carrying out this role up to 2010 before his health deteriorated. He focused his work on equal opportunities, fair treatment and family support for many people. Herbie was Chair of the Jamaica Merseyside Association and a former chair of Comtechsa Liverpool.
Herbie had a passion for supporting community elders. He devised and launched the Afro Caribbean and Friends Lunch club run by volunteers providing lunch and many other activities twice a week. The club is thriving today and continues his legacy over 21 years later.
In 2011 Herbie received the Black Achievers Lifetime and Legacy Award from the Merseyside Black History Month Group.
When Herbie sadly passed away in November 2011 over 2,000 people attended a prestigious funeral held at the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral attended by his family and many friends and civic dignitaries such as leader of the Liverpool City Council, and the Right Honourable Anthony S Johnson, Jamaican High Commissioner.
Board Members and Staff at Steve Biko Housing were privileged to have known and worked alongside Herbie, he has left a legacy for the communities of Liverpool and Toxteth in particular.