10 years of delivering better homes
To mark Watford Community Housing’s tenth birthday, we celebrated what we achieved over our first decade. In this first instalment, we looked back at how we have improved homes across our 21 community areas, as well as delivering excellent and much-needed new housing.
Watford Community Housing exists, first and foremost, to provide high-quality homes for people who need them – and it’s something we’ve been striving to deliver from the day we were formed.
We were created to improve homes, as changes to government regulation meant that Watford Borough Council could no longer support the upgrades its homes needed. The purchase of homes by the newly formed organisation meant there was now an organisation dedicated to improving and maintaining your home, as well as developing new homes for other people in need of a house – something we’re still committed to today.
Driving up standards
In September 2007, nearly 40% of the homes transferred didn’t meet the government’s Decent Homes standard. Our first promise was to bring all our homes up to a standard which not only met these requirements, but went above and beyond. We promised that in the first five years all our homes would meet the Watford Quality Standard (now the Housing Quality Standard), which sets the bar even higher than Decent Homes to help keep you healthy, happy and safe.
By investing more than £50 million, along with plenty of hard work, we kept that promise. By September 2012 100% of our homes met the new, better standard – and the improvements didn’t end there. Over the years, our planned maintenance programmes have made sure our homes are comfortable, sustainable and that residents have the opportunity to live in modern, functional kitchens and bathrooms which look good and help you take pride in your home.
We’ve upgraded everything from the roof down, including fitting almost 3,500 kitchens and more than 2,500 bathrooms. We’ve also completed over 8,000 window and door replacement jobs, and installed 3,300 boilers, making your homes safer and more energy-efficient. In addition, more than 500 homes have been fitted with adaptations which make life easier for disabled or elderly residents.
And we’re not planning to stop! Our 2016-2020 improvement programme is seeing more than 1,000 homes benefiting from new kitchens and bathrooms, as we work with our contractor, Keepmoat, work together to provide you with high-quality homes.
A responsive repairs service
Sometimes, unlike with planned maintenance, the repairs you need come out of the blue. Our repairs teams are always looking after your homes, and have completed a whopping 215,298 repairs over the last decade. Whether it’s a broken window, a faulty boiler or even a blocked toilet, our Gateway Repairs Team has been keeping your homes shipshape ever since the we began.
We’re really proud of how tenants have remained pleased with their homes over the last 10 years. Consistently, 80% of people have reported that they are satisfied with their home overall – and that figure continues to rise.
Homes that meet your needs
As well as making improvements to individual homes, it’s important to us that we make sure those living in sheltered housing are given the best service possible. In our first few years we reviewed how we support older people. In 2010, we worked to receive an accreditation from the Code of Practice for Housing Related Support Services, which means that an independent body recognised that our services for older residents were of the highest quality. Seven years later, we are working towards the accreditation again, now called the CHS Service Excellence Standards, to highlight our dedication to meeting the needs of all of our residents.
Sustainability was another priority, as making our homes greener not only helps the planet, but saves you money on heating bills. In 2009-10, we upgraded 25,000 individual windows that were old and inefficient with triple-A quality replacements, in the UK’s largest window refurbishment project of its type that year. The impact of the replacement of these windows was so important that it meant the project was shortlisted for the Sustainable Housing Awards!
Delivering much-needed new homes
When the we began, we knew that providing better homes wasn’t just about improving what was already there – new homes also needed to be built. There was an increasing need for more houses, so that people could have the opportunity to live in safe, functional and affordable homes.
Our first development of family homes was completed at Alma Place in 2010. Built on a former garage site on the Meriden, Alma Place was a source of great pride for the us as it marked the possibility for a bright future in building new homes. New tenants began moving in as soon as it was finished – amongst them was tenant Gary Stevens, who described the experience as “fantastic – you just can’t fault it in any way”.
We’ve come a long way since that first development, and we can now proudly say we’ve built 170 homes across 16 different locations, with social and affordable rent properties making up more than half of these.
With the housing crisis worsening all the time, building safe, affordable homes is one of our biggest priorities. We’ve set ourselves the goal of having built 1,000 new homes in Hertfordshire and the surrounding area by 2020 – and we’ve already got firm plans in place for more than half of these!
Helping people onto the property ladder
We are also focused on giving people the chance to own their own home by entering into a shared ownership scheme in one of our dedicated properties.
In order to provide even more affordable homes for people who need them, we have recently established partnerships with both Watford Borough Council and Three Rivers District Council, pooling our resources to deliver additional homes where they are needed most.
10 years of better homes
As you can see, delivering better homes doesn’t mean just one thing to us. It means providing homes that are better for your wallet, better for your wellbeing, better for the environment, and better for the wider community. It means consistently investing and upgrading to ensure you have modern facilities and a safe space to live. It means developing housing for everyone, and choosing to build affordable homes so more people can have a roof over their head.
It means looking after your home as best we can to help make life better for you.