What is a housing association?

Shared resident buildings, such as tower blocks, have been the government’s way of increasing the amount of housing available in heavily populated areas since the 1970s. Many of these shared living areas will be managed and maintained by a housing association.

Housing associations are usually non profit, independent companies which supply the developer or owners of the building. They may also be instrumental in providing affordable housing for the section of society that are struggling to afford the costs of living.

Housing associations are very common in many countries

Housing associations can sometimes have a very large range and can in some extreme cases support over 50,000 individual homes. In other cases, housing associations can be on a much smaller scale, perhaps supplying only 10 residences.

In heavily populated regions, such as the United Kingdom, housing associations are particularly popular. Housing developers have recently been given new permission to create new homes in certain areas where there is a ‘housing crisis’ – as this article from the Telegraph suggests.

In the UK alone, it is reported by some sources that such housing associations provide safe, warm residences for up to 5 million people.

Rent vs buy

Some of these households are available for private sale, although when this is the case they are more often than not sold through schemes which seek to provide low cost ownership solutions. This might include schemes such as ‘help to buy’ for first time buyers trying to get onto the property ladder. Even though some of these residences are sold, the vast majority are actually available for rent at extremely affordable prices.

Supporting those with additional needs

Many housing associations are not only valuable because they provide an affordable means of living in very expensive areas, but housing associations are also sometime particularly useful in providing support to those that have additional needs. This might involve supporting those with disabilities or learning difficulties. In some cases, housing associations also support those that have become homeless.

Other initiatives

Whilst supporting individuals with extra needs is a common feature from a housing association, many of these organisations also choose to support communities as a whole. They may take part in specific community based projects to help to regenerate certain locations. Getting the community working together and appreciating their public and shared spaces is considered to be a key indicating factor of the success of a housing association.

Housing associations across the globe

As you may expect, the role of housing associations varies drastically across the globe. In areas where there is more space, and less need of social housing, housing associations may focus less on community projects and more on the service and maintenance of shared buildings. Housing associations often employ the support of management companies such as the Cedar Management Group of the United States. These businesses usually combine all of the services a housing association into one and manages the site directly.