HOUSING GROUP ‘WENT THE EXTRA MILE’ DURING PANDEMIC, CHIEF EXECUTIVE TELLS ANNUAL MEETING
Keeping people safe, keeping homes decent, and meeting tenants’ expectations – these were the three challenges met head-on by a leading regional housing association during the past year.
Michael Newey, chief executive of Broadland Housing, outlined how the organisation had ‘gone the extra mile’ to meet those challenges, at the organisation’s Annual General Meeting, held its first hybrid meeting, having a limited number of people in the room, whilst others joined virtually.
In the coming years he promised a renewed focus on local delivery, a continuation of Broadland’s efforts in tackling homelessness, and a drive to become greener.
Despite the pandemic, Broadland Housing delivered 147 new homes during 2020/21 (against a target of 72), including 92 for affordable rent and a further 33 for shared ownership. The organisation allocated 348 during the year, including 117 to homeless households and 111 to older people.
“The pandemic has been the most significant event of my life, and the same is true for most of us,” Mr Newey told tenants, Board members and partners at the meeting in Norwich. “Life has changed, and we have all faced significant challenges. I am really proud of how we transitioned almost overnight to meet those challenges and continue to meet our objectives.
“Our ambitions remain the same, but the world has changed, and we have had to adapt the way we do things. Our number one priority has been keeping people safe, and that has sometimes meant that we haven’t been able to do everything that we wanted to do.
“Supporting people has never been more important, whether through befriending calls with people who have been isolated in their homes, or dealing with urgent issues such as emergency repairs.”
Mr Newey outlined some of the challenges facing the organisation as it emerges from the pandemic – with responding to climate change, tackling homelessness and a renewed focus on local delivery all priorities, along with continuing to provide more new homes.
“Climate change will in the long-term be a bigger issue than Covid: the issue is how we can deliver the 2050 net carbon zero target without pushing people into fuel poverty,” said Mr Newey. “One piece of research has estimated that meeting that target will cost an average of nearly £21,000 per affordable home, so the financial impact is enormous.
“Tackling homelessness has been a long-term priority for us. The pandemic inspired a renewed sense of joined-up thinking and partnership working, and we have played a role in both the Norfolk Strategic Housing Partnership and the Norfolk Homelessness Forum. We have also worked with King’s Lynn, Norwich and Great Yarmouth to provide housing first accommodation, move-on accommodation and homes for prison leavers.”
Thanking staff, tenants, Board members and partners for their support during a difficult year, Mr Newey promised that Broadland Housing would remain focussed on its core mission in the coming year and beyond.
“There is no doubt that the pandemic will continue to have a substantial impact on our operations during the coming year,” he said. “However, our commitment to delivering our enduring purpose, namely helping people who cannot afford decent places to live in the open market access good quality affordable homes, remains as strong as ever.”
Broadland Housing, which was established in 1963, provides 5,337 homes in Norfolk and Suffolk. A copy of the 2020/21 Annual Report can be downloaded from https://www.broadlandgroup.org/annual-reviews.