20 December 2013 marked the official 50th anniversary of one of London’s leading housing associations, and pioneer of shared ownership, Notting Hill Housing (NHH).
First founded in Blenheim Crescent, Notting Hill Housing now manages over 27,000 properties across the Capital, providing support to residents aged from 16 to over 100. The west-London born organisation introduced shared ownership to the UK in 1980, opening the first scheme at 88 Ladbroke Grove, and has since helped more than 5,500 people onto the London property ladder.
Over the past twelve months, NHH has embarked on a number of celebratory initiatives, including the creation of a walking tour podcast of Notting Hill with local historian, Tom Vague, and a residents’ art exhibition at The Mall Galleries.
The organisation has also embarked on a special fundraising drive in light of the anniversary, including a 200 mile bike ride to Paris, raising over £100,000 for its Emergency Hardship Fund, which offers extra support for residents living in poverty.
Kate Davies, chief executive of Notting Hill Housing, comments: “We celebrate our 50th anniversary with pride in our achievements and the dynamic and worthwhile institution we have become.
“The organisation is unique in its enthusiasm, innovation and willingness to try anything to drive real, sustainable change. In 1970s Notting Hill, where racial tension was high following the Race Riots, we were the first to encourage a mixed community, working closely with black families and activists, and letting homes to families from different ethnic groups to aid integration. Today our residents represent more than 30 nationalities. Our progressive approach also led us to pioneer the country’s first shared ownership scheme; an affordable home buying solution which has since been adopted industry-wide and opened up the property market to thousands more.”
Notting Hill Housing Trust was founded in 1963 by Rev Bruce Kenrick in response to appalling housing conditions in the area, which was once described as a “massive slum, full of multi-occupied houses, crawling with rats and rubbish” (author, Mike Phillips). After almost 20 years, the organisation widened its reach to Hammersmith & Fulham, Ealing and Hounslow.
Today, the housing association supports Londoners across the capital and comprises four dedicated divisions: Notting Hill Housing Trust, providing social and affordable rented housing; Notting Hill Home Ownership, the commercial arm offering property solutions including shared ownership; Notting Hill Pathways, for care and support services; and Home Options, which focuses on shorter term housing leases.
Looking to the future, Kate Davies adds: “Fifty years on, we have the same objective as we always have – we provide good quality homes for those who could not otherwise afford them. While we celebrate the great achievements so far, it is also a time to consider the future and how we will continue to meet this objective. While more of us will work longer we seem to living longer still, and we will suffer ill health and disability. Demographic pressures on pensions and health costs are already challenging and with the next cohort will have more debt, less pension provision and less home ownership.
“Over the next 50 years, NHH will have to work hard, and innovate, in order to continue to house poorer families in decent homes in London. Doing more profitable work to subsidise poorer customers will be inevitable.”
NHH currently employs over 1,000 staff and involves over 300 volunteers every year. Its annual turnover is now approximately £350m and it aims to develop over 1,500 homes each year.
The organisation has launched a special anniversary website (www.nhh50.com), which aims to tell the story of the organisation through the people involved. It features guest blogs from local historians and councillors; staff profiles and personal accounts; stories and experiences from residents throughout the years; memoirs of the Kenrick family, including daughters Iona and Isobel; and tributes to the late John Coward – the first chief executive of NHH who passed away just weeks before its anniversary.