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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

A change is gonna come


Modern technology and ideas could transform the way housing associations involve tenants, says Chris Irons.

Is the housing industry finally ready to embrace change and opinions that not only challenge the status quo but push the boundaries of the everyday which we have had for years?

Quite simply: yes, housing does want to embrace new thinking and new ways.  So if you have a voice and an idea, shout about it and there will be someone willing to listen, I have, not only within my organisation but within the networks of people I have had the pleasure of speaking to throughout this competition.

I would like to provide you with one of my thoughts:

We have had some challenges over the last number of years to become economically viable and as we have tried to adapt and become self-sustaining we have lost some of our roots and values with residents which as an apprentice 10 years ago I saw as being some of the fundamental pillars of housing. I would like to bring this back.

As a housing association (HA) we know we have to make choices, choices which make us financially viable, some we have to do such as compliance but other things such as general maintenance we have a decision to make. What styles of kitchen do we offer, what brand of taps do we fit? Now why not tie that with modern technology?

So if we know what we can afford to spend and the vast majority of our residents have the internet, why can’t we present them with the options, all of which are economically viable but will give them a choice and allow them to vote online? Something as simple as regarding if they are happy for a cheaper design of toilet in order that we provide better quality taps. Surely it’s a win, win situation, HAs remaining viable and engaging residents with choices and decisions helping to shape their housing association. This would be something that not only we, but they, can take pride in.

Does it have to stop there? Could we hold online resident committees where more residents can get involved from far and wide? Can we start the modernisation revolution of HAs?

I hope this gives you an insight into my way of thinking and I ask of you all one thing: listen to all ideas and don’t be afraid of change, embrace it.

Chris Irons, gas production team leader, Hyde Housing

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