News & Stories

Getting to know Habinteg

10 June 2024

Habinteg New Member

Catherine Ryder, CEO of PlaceShapers, blogs

They are already a pioneer of inclusive design and are committed to sharing what they have learnt with fellow members of PlaceShapers.

Habinteg, who joined PlaceShapers in March, are a unique housing association, with a different focus from many others in our network.

Habinteg have just over 3,300 homes across England and provide and promote accessible homes that welcome and include everyone, including disabled and older people.

At PlaceShapers, we like to get to know all our members so we can ensure they are making the most of their membership and understand what they can offer the network and our other members. So, it was great for Matthew Walker, our PlaceShapers Chair and the Chief Executive of Leeds Federated, and I to spend time with Nick Apetroaie, their Chief Executive, in their offices in Leeds.

One in three of Habinteg’s homes are designed for wheelchair users, but beyond that, the majority of its homes are built to an accessible or adaptable standard. For Habinteg residents, this means they can stay in their homes as they age and their needs change. As Nick explained, many housing associations would be surprised at how cost-effective building homes to these standards is.

Habinteg have a wealth of experience and knowledge to share on building and providing accessible homes and preparing for an ageing population. They are already a pioneer of inclusive design and are committed to sharing what they have learnt with fellow members of PlaceShapers. We will definitely be taking them up on that.

The other way Habinteg differ from many of our other members is that they operate across different areas in England, from Cornwall to Newcastle. Given their geography, there is also much to learn from their approach to place-shaping and resident engagement. To ensure that resident experience is at the heart of decision-making, they have set up a Joint Strategy and Impact Group, chaired by a resident. But don’t take my word for the difference this is making, the Chair, Cathy Smith, has recently written about this in an Inside Housing first person piece.

We have often said that politicians and stakeholders underestimate the impact of community-based housing associations. This really matters because it means government policy often hampers rather than supports what we do, limiting our potential to address the significant challenges this country faces right now.

We are ambitious about using the general election as an opportunity to fix that. Telling the story of organisations like Habinteg - their approach to building new homes, inclusivity, and tenant engagement - is a key part of how we are aiming to do that.

The next stop on our tour of new members are visits to Gloucester City Homes and bpha. Watch this space.