On Tuesday the 16th of January, shareholders of both Genesis Housing Association and Notting Hill Housing will be voting on whether to merge into one giant organisation.
Collectively, if the vote goes through, they will be responsible for the housing of around 170,000 residents.
THINK has long been concerned about the issue of housing associations straying a very long away from their roots back when they initially started out as charitable organisations – social landlords, providing many with decent housing in the local community.
We share the concerns of many residents of both associations have raised, from rent increases that many, particularly those housed by Genesis Housing Association, are facing in high land value areas, particularly in London, to the move instead to provide “affordable” housing rather than housing at social rent level ( a long way from the original aims of both associations) , and the moves into property development and regeneration.
Yes these organisations have been chronically underfunded by successive governments and from the outset are increasingly in need of funds, but THINK believe that turning into socially cleansing property developers for the wealthy is not the way forward.
We had a closer look at just a few of the rules of Genesis Housing Association based on the model rules from 2005:
“The Association is formed for the benefit of the community, its objects shall be to carry on for the benefit of the community”
And this: “This association shall not trade for profit”
We believe that this merger amounts to a marriage of convenience – convenient for those in charge to rip up their own rule books and shrug off the responsibilities they were originally designated to have and go chasing vast profits at the real cost of not only their existing residents, but also to many other ordinary residents of London and the South East who are already struggling to afford a home.
Many have noticed appearances in recent years executives on the boards of both associations who may have some very questionable motives as to their positions on social housing.
Take Richard Powell for example, who joined NHH last year. He previously worked as a “director of urban communities” at Lendlease. Yes – the Australian based global property development responsible for the demolition of the Heygate Estate in Walworth, South London and also for the proposed HDV regeneration plans in Haringey council, North London.
See the Stop HDV campaign website here:
For those not in the know, Haringey planned a 50/50 public private partnership with the company to the tune of £2billion that would be likely to see most of their residents in the less affluent areas of the borough, lose their homes. Lendlease has also been in partnership with US president Donald Trump – yes Trump Towers! It almost sounds laughable but we really don’t think that taking a wrecking ball to peoples’ social homes , forcing residents out of London and replacing their homes with luxury flats for wealthy “buy-to-leave” investors is really a laughing matter.
If that doesn’t sound worrying enough, Mr Powell also previously worked as a director of planning at Capital and Counties! yes, Capco (or Crapco, as we call them) – responsible for the dreadful mess that is known as the Earl’s Court masterplan.
Have a look at our previous Earl’s Court post here:
The Save Earl’s Court campaign website here:
And West Ken and Gibbs Green campaign website here:
The demolition of the Earl’s Court exhibition centre plus greedy Crapco hiking rents has come at a real cost to some small businesses around the area – so it is not even merely a concern for residents in social housing either.
And just in case some reading this still think this is just a matter for housing association residents and not for those housed by their local authority, let us point to the Aylesbury Estate (formerly Southwark council) – under regeneration by NHH and Grahame Park (formerly Barnet Council) under regeneration plans by Genesis – both with far fewer homes for social rent.
What could the future of the now-disbanding TMO in Kensington and Chelsea possibly be?
RBKC appear to have little idea of what will happen to their housing stock, and we believe that this supersize beast that collectively will sit on reserves of around £3billion may make the council (whose once cushy reserves are now dwindling) a nice (not so little) offer – one that will also appeal to the Rotten Borough Tories wanting to expel many of their social housing residents from the borough. We believe that all social housing residents in and around our borough are at very real risk from this proposed merger.
All the regeneration projects that these two associations have been involved in have vastly reduced the provision of social housing places, or even worse, The planned development in Canada Water, South London (pictured below) will have 1,030 homes – consisting so-called “affordable” (up to 80% of market rate – actually completely unaffordable to many), homes for private sale, homes for private market rent and shared ownership (which only is of real benefit to soon-to-be high flyers starting out on the property ladder) and that’s it. No mention of homes for social rent at all.
All will be familiar with the phrase “charity begins at home”: THINK believe that these two organisations need to get back to being charities that provide the less well off with a decent social housing ; not become developers who do ordinary people out of the right to live in decent social housing. This union in our view will move these once associations even further from their once commendable and charitable roots.
We urge all shareholders who haven’t voted yet to vote NO to the merger and all in and around our community to join the protests outside both meetings tomorrow.
NOTTING HILL HOUSING : at 5 15 pm, Tuesday 16th January 2018 at Sussex Place, Hammersmith, London W6 9EA
GENESIS HOUSING: Also at 5:15pn Tuesday 16th January 2018 at Atelier House, 64 Pratt Street, London, NW1 ODL