Housing Association and the different types of accommodation

Housing Association and the different types of accommodation

Introduction

Welcome to your new job in Utopia Housing Trust (UHT). This booklet is designed to give you a brief overview of our Housing Association and the different types of accommodation we offer, the services we provide to our community, our values, particularly Equality and Diversity in housing and housing legislation. It will also give you an outline of other types of affordable Social Housing available and information on legislation and regulations that you as a new employee will need to know about.

This booklet is a brief overview and is not a replacement for the formal Induction training you will receive where these subjects (and others relating to your specific role) will be considered in greater depth. An electronic copy of this leaflet is available on our Intranet site (on the training pages) where you will be able to “click the links” listed under Further Reading” at the end of the booklet.

Section 1

Utopia Housing and the services we offer

UHT is a Housing Association which offers several types of housing to enable our residents to maintain affordable housing through different stages in their lives. We aim to support residents in maintaining their independence, to enable people to lead fulfilled lives in a range of accommodation which will also provide vulnerable people with homes where they are able to live safely and securely. Our top priority is to ensure that our residents can enjoy their homes and communities safely, in an atmosphere of tolerance. We also aim to use eco-friendly technology wherever possible making our homes cheaper to heat and to maintain. That’s good for our residents and good for our planet!

What exactly is a Housing Association?

We are an independent society whose aim is to provide low cost social housing for people on a ‘not for profit basis’. Any money left over after collecting the rent andservice charges is used to maintain and improve our portfolio of accommodation as well as building new homes such as the Whitmore Estate (we also get Government funding to assist us to build new properties). We are governed by a voluntary board which includes resident representatives as well as a local community group, local business people and 3 representatives from our local authority. We are members of the National Housing Federation.

Other types of Housing providers include:

Abbeyfields

Almshouses

Co-operatives and co-ownerships

Sale/leasehold associations

What is Social Housing and how do you apply?

Social housing is provided by various organisations (like UHT) to provide affordable accommodation to people on low incomes. The rents in these properties are in general lower than private rented properties and are allocated on the basis of need. We work closely with our local authority to offer properties to local people. We have a joint waiting list with the authority and 2 other Housing Associations. Applications for homes are made by completing an application form available from the estate office or local authority offices. Properties are awarded on a point system (see Page 5 footnote about Choice Based Lettings).

What services do we offer?

We offer a wide range of services to support our residents:

Residential estate staff to oversee the daily management and general maintenance of the estate (including managing the cleaners and gardeners)
Residential Scheme Manager in our sheltered housing unit to support our older and disabled residents. Carers are recruited as required by individual residents
Residential staff in our Foyer and hostel buildings (Ben’s Foyer and Hostel)
Rainbow Nursery run by a local charity for children 2 – 5 years (held in the Communal hall)
After School club
Health Centre (2 doctors, 2 part time nurses and other health care professionals
Home Safety checks for residents over age 60. [3]
Social activities – Movie club, Knit Stitch and Natter club, Bingo, Quiz nights.

All residents can attend open board meetings held quarterly. This meeting allows residents the opportunity to put forward suggestions for improvements, question the board on their activities, raise issues affecting the community etc.

Other providers of social housing

Local Authority (LA) housing – our local authority has transferred the management of all their housing stock to an Arms Length Management Organization (ALMO).

An ALMO is a nonprofit company set up by and works for, the Local Authority. This allows the LA to maintain the ownership of their properties while not having the responsibility of the management, maintenance and improvement of the housing stock, ie the daily responsibility for the properties belongs to the ALMO.

The ALMO is paid a fee from the LA which they use to manage the housing stock. (This includes improving properties to the Decent Homes Standard.The LA still has the responsibility to deliver quality services to the tenants but they do this through the contract they have with the ALMO.

The disadvantage that ALMOs have is that they are restricted by government policy on the range of services they can manage for the local authority. For instance they cannot raise funds to undertake regeneration or new building as Housing Associations can. This means that as residents exercise their right to buy their homes the ALMO cannot replace those homes by building new ones, as they are unable to raise the income to do so. This has wide reaching implications for the availability of affordable housing in the future.

The LA retains the allocation policy of the properties and tenants remain secure tenants of the local authority. Not all local authorities have chosen to use ALMOs to administer their housing stock and they manage it themselves.

There are wide ranging changes in recent government policy on social housing and housing benefits and this subject will be looked at in more detail on your induction course.

The Whitmore Estate

The estate is part of a regeneration area and was purpose built 4 years ago after the land was left to us in his will by Mr George Whitmore a local business man who was committed to improving housing for the City. Mr Whitmore was a prominent local builder who served on the Board of Utopia Housing Trust for 14 years. There are excellent facilities nearby, schools, shopping centre, sports and leisure complex, and good transport links into the city.

Types of Housing on Whitmore Estate

There are maps of the estate on notice boards throughout the complex which are interactive – should you need to find an address, simply type it into the key pad and the map will highlight the directions to that property.

Our complex is composed of:

General needs housing (David Tower and Mark Terrace) – there are 82 flats and 12 terraced houses for couples and families. These are 1, 2, 3, and 4 bedroom properties which are allocated on a points basis through Choice Base Lettings[7].

Sheltered Housing (Paul House) – there are 22 studio flats and 10 one bedroom flats which are self contained homes designed with additional social and domestic facilities providing independent and secure accommodation for single people and couples over the age of 60. As part of the sheltered housing complex we also have an additional 7 properties that have been especially adapted for people with disabilities. Each of these properties has been designed to enable the resident to live as independently as possible whilst supporting their disability.

Ben’s Foyer – this unit is designed specifically to support young people at risk. It has both self-contained and shared flats, accommodating 24 young people with support to help develop their independent living skills, while also focusing on learning and work opportunities. It is similar to a hostel and is for those aged 16 – 25 years. Residents can stay at Ben’s foyer from 1 month up to 2 years.In order to stay at Ben’s Foyer, residents must engage with staff and undertake some form of learning or work, be able to pay rent and service charges either through employment income, grants or any relevant benefits. They have to sign an agreement to participate in either work or education whilst maintaining their accommodation. Most of the residents living here have been referred via the local authority or the Homeless Centre. UHT expects residents in Ben’s foyer to become involved in the community by giving time each month to help with social events on the complex.

Ben’s Hostel – attached to Ben’s Foyer this is a small building of 6 rooms with shared bathing and kitchen facilities used as a direct access hostel for people under the age of 25. These rooms are specifically held as emergency accommodation for single homeless people who are rough sleepers or in urgent need of accommodation. Unlike Ben’s Foyer the residents here are self referring and can only remain here for 21 nights. The aim of the hostel is to support users in their first steps into obtaining a settled home.

Section 2

Service users, their needs and how they participate in UHT’s activities

We live in a rapidly growing and diverse community which means there are more demands on the services we offer. For instance there are more single people; older people are living longer with increasing need of support in their homes; we have more black and ethnic minority residents with varying needs because of their culture.

We strive to meet the needs of our residents in various ways – a few are listed below as an example but you should look at our Internet site for up to date information. www.Utopiahousing.co.uk/activitiesinvolvement We also provide newsletters to our residents at the end of each month outlining the activities available in the following month. The notice boards are updated regularly.

Clinics: Stevie’s clinic

One of the support services offered to our Sheltered Housing residents is Stevie’s Memory Clinic which is held in the communal hall.[8] This clinic hosts a variety of events aimed at supporting residents who have been diagnosed with Dementia. As our aging population increases we have found many of our residents are being diagnosed with the most common types of dementia (Alzheimer’s disease and Vascular Dementia). The aim of Stevie’s clinic is to support these residents in the early stages of memory loss to maintain their everyday skills. By offering this help we enable residents to keep their independence for longer, whilst supporting them, their families, friends and carers in understanding how to live with their illness.

Aids and Adaptations

Specialist equipment and adaptations to a property are used to support residents of any age. They are invaluable to help residents to continue living independently in their own homes. Aid equipment available ranges from large items like stair lifts, to smaller gadgets designed for people with specific needs like a kettle support. Adaptations can be a ramp for access to a home or even a bathroom conversion to a wet room for those unable to get into and out of the bath. This service is offered through the Charlotte’s Health Centre by the Occupational Therapist. She will recommend aids and adaptations required by the resident to remain safe and independent in their home after an assessment of their needs.

Communications

There are many residents whose first language is not English and all our leaflets are available in the following languages: Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Ukrainian, Romanian, Arabic, Punjabi, Somali and Turkish. All our newsletters have pictorial items which supports non English speakers as well as some of our residents with learning disabilities. We produce a quarterly newsletter with resident involvement.[12]All our leaflets can be translated into other languages as required. Our website is a vital source of information:

www.Utopiahousing.co.uk

We also have leaflets in Braille, on audio cds and video. We review our leaflets on a regular basis and use simple language without jargon. Communication and involvement of our residents is vital in developing our values as a housing trust. We are members of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and ‘tap into’ their expertise on many subjects. See further reading section for information on CIH.

When we have a matter to discuss with our residents we either

Encourage them to participate in the decision making – giving them the facts and they decide what they prefer.
Or we consult resident’s views in the matter.

The difference is that in the first point residents decide; in the second we listen to residents preferences/opinions but may not be able to do as they wish and we decide the course of action required.

Section 3

Legislation and regulation

Under the coalition government and as a result of Spending Reviews there is a raft of new legislation in relation to the provision of social housing and housing benefit. You will be given full training on how these reforms will affect us and our residents if it is part of you new job.

Regulation of our services

The Tenant Services Authority is the regulator for all social housing in England. From April 2010 there is a common set of standards that applies to all providers. The basis of how we will comply with these is set out in Appendix 2:

We inform everyone on our performance each year by producing an annual report. In this report we identify what has gone well and what hasn’t gone well and how we intend to improve. After the report is published we hold a tenant conference to hear our tenant’s opinions and involve them in decisions on our performance and any improvement plans should we fail in one of our standards. This is another of our values – resident participation is key to developing a community as it makes it their community.

We have a resident involvement team who encourage our residents to take more responsibility for their community. They have their own web pages and also can be contacted at:

[email protected]

Equality and Diversity

Many people think that Equality is about treating everyone the same – not true! Equality is about making sure that everyone has the same ability to access to goods, services and employment by breaking down barriers and for some that means they need extra support to be at the same ‘level’ as everyone else.

Discrimination is to treat a person or a group of people less favourably than others because of they are different to you.[13]

Eliminating discrimination and ensuring access for all is protected by legislation, the Equality Act 2010. Key areas of the Act came into force in October 2010 and the new Act pulls together previous equality legislation into one law ie separate legislation on disability, race, religion, sexual orientation are all covered and strengthened in the new equality act.

At UHT we recognise that many of our households contain higher than average proportions of people who experience discrimination because of their ethnicity, disability, social financial status, education, and religion. It is a recognised statistic in social housing. Our aim is to ensure we support our residents to be equal to everyone else in our community and employment.

Equality and Diversity is one of UHT’s key values – if we perform poorly it has a negative effect on tenant’s lives, which will have a knock on effect on our business ie when people feel undervalued they are less likely to treat their homes and communities with respect and tolerance .

Equality and diversity are not interchangeable but interdependent. There can be no equality without recognising the value in the differences we all bring into our community in our workplace, home life or wider community.

Further reading – where employees can go for additional information:

Click the link:

Internet links for Page 2

http://www.abbeyfield.com

www.almshouses.org

http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/finding_a_place_to_live/housing_co-operatives

http://www.shelteredhousing.org/

http://www.housing.org.uk

Page4: Secure tenancy details:

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/HomeAndCommunity/Councilandhousingassociationhomes/Councilhousing/Counciltenants/DG_188538

Page 7

http://www.alzheimers.org.uk

http://www.dlf.org.uk/content/factsheets-groups

Other sites of interest:

http://www.direct.gov.uk

http://www.jrf.org.uk

Referencing

The following sites were used for reference purposes in compiling t his leaflet:

Abbeyfields: http://www.abbeyfield.com

Almshouses: www.almshouses.org

Shelter: http://www.shelteredhousing.org

:http://england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/finding_a_place_to_live/housing_co-operatives

Direxct.gov (government website) http://www.direct.gov.uk

Alzheimer’s society: http://www.alzheimers.org.uk

Disabled Living Foundation: http://www.dlf.org.uk/content/factsheets-groups

Equality and Diversity interpretation: http://www.ashfieldhomes.co.uk/files/Equality/Translation+and+Interpretation+Good+Practice+Guidelines.pdf

Joseph Rowntree Foundation: http://jrf.org.uk

http://www.jrf.org.uk/publications/british-social-rented-housing-european-context

Local Government and Improvement development:

http://www.idea.gov.uk/idk/core/page.do?pageId=1089895

Information on ALMOs

http://www.cih.org/policy/ALMOreportNov05.pdf

Decent home standard

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.communities.gov.uk/housing/decenthomes/whatis/

Diversity

http://www.cih.org/about/diversity/diversity08.pdf

http://www.housingdiversitynetwork.co.uk/?page=EqualityAndDiversity-General

http://www.equalities.gov.uk/equality_act_2010.aspx

http://www.nationalequalitypartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/definitions_of_equality_and_diversity.pdf

http://www.idea.gov.uk/idk/core/page.do?pageId=5145172

http://www.idea.gov.uk/idk/core/page.do?pageId=5145524

General reading material:

http://www.cih.org/policy/fpp-LArolehousingmarkets-Apr11.pdf

http://www.idea.gov.uk/idk/core/page.do?pageId=16639499

CIH Moodle:

http://learning.chs.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=242

http://learning.chs.ac.uk/file.php/242/equality_act_presentation_show_for_web.pps#256,1

http://learning.chs.ac.uk/file.php/242/EqualityDiversityPracticeBrief-1.pdf