Find out more about Roddons Housing Association

IT is more than six months since Roddons Housing Association was formed. Roddons Housing Association was formed ready for the stock transfer of 3,754 homes from Fenland District Council in November 2007. We talked to managing director PAULINE FORD to fin

IT is more than six months since Roddons Housing Association was formed.

Roddons Housing Association was formed ready for the stock transfer of 3,754 homes from Fenland District Council in November 2007.

We talked to managing director PAULINE FORD to find out more about this new housing association

Why were homes in the area transferred from Fenland DC to Roddons? The transfer has ensured that all of the former council tenants can look forward to improvements to their homes over and above the Government's Decent Homes standard, which is the minimum standard for all social housing that must be achieved by 2010. People's aspirations are rising all of the time and Roddons can keep high investment levels in the future. As a housing association rather than a local authority, Roddons is able to raise and borrow money to deliver investment into people's homes. We can raise finance against our assets which allows us to improve the homes and services we offer.

What is Roddons planning to do to improve its existing housing stock? We have a huge investment programme planned which will go over and above the Government's Decent Homes standard. For the first five years we are spending £35 million in improving our homes. In addition we are investing in other areas such as off street parking facilities and fencing.

We have been busy surveying our properties to see what work is required and now we are putting together a schedule for carrying this out. We have appointed contractors to help us with our improvement work.

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If homes are no longer owned by the local authority, does that mean Roddons has free rein to put up our rents?  Absolutely not! We are governed by the same rules as local authorities when it comes to setting rents.

Any rent increases from Roddons remain within the Government guidelines previously used by Fenland District Council.

Does Roddons employ different staff than when homes were managed by FDC? A total of 101 staff transferred from Fenland DC to Roddons Housing Association last November. Roddons is an expanding organisation and we currently have 120 staff.

Roddons has a real commitment to Fenland and its people are really important to our future. That includes our staff and our residents. By employing local people we can contribute to the economic viability of the area.

We are committed to putting residents at the heart of everything we do and offering a range of services rather than just homes.

Why is it called Roddons? We are a truly local organisation with local roots and wanted our name to reflect that. We held a competition and felt that the name Roddons was really relevant to Fenland as it is a local name for the ghost of a former river channel.

I heard that Roddons was part of Circle Anglia, what is that? Roddons is part of the Circle Anglia group which brings with it a number of benefits. Circle Anglia has a wealth of previous experience in managing stock transfers, expertise in the needs of the sector and also offers financial benefits.

For example, as a large organisation Circle Anglia has the ability to raise finance at very competitive rates and achieve greater economies of scale. Being part of a larger group can only benefit a fledgling organisation such as Roddons in our early days.

I heard that Roddons offered services other than housing, what else do you do? Around 60 per cent of our residents are pensioners and we have tried to create services that will benefit them. After discussions with residents, we now offer gardening, decorating and handyman services to our elderly and disabled tenants. Our handyman service has been utilised by people wanting a range of things from putting up shelves to taking down and putting up curtains.

We also offer an aids and adaptations service and have our own occupational therapist who can offer a tailored service in helping to identify what people need in their homes to make life easier. This includes everything from handrails to stairlifts.

What is Roddons policy on tackling anti-social behaviour?

We take this problem very seriously and recently appointed an Anti-Social Behaviour Co-ordinator. People have different perceptions of what constitutes anti-social behaviour, but if residents perceive that something is a problem then it is. We talk to the resident and treat all reports confidentially. Roddons also has an out-of-hours reporting service. Issues range from barking dogs to neighbourhood disputes to parking issues.

Most of the issues we deal with are fairly minor, but nevertheless important to those who are affected. We work with other organisations such as the local authority and the police to resolve problems.

A lot of our work is also about preventing anti-social behaviour.

If I am having trouble paying my rent is there anybody I can talk to at Roddons?

Residents who have concerns can speak to our income team. We can advise them about different arrangements available to pay their rent. We can also any advice about benefits that our residents may be entitled to.

Residents felt it was important that we had a dedicated resource at Roddons to help them with financial issues. We are committed to helping improve the life chances of our residents and helping them to secure and manage their income is part of that.

A significant number of our residents have an income of less than £200 per week and this service is really important to them. Has Roddons been affected by the recent credit crunch and if so how? In the same way that residents have been affected, Roddons has been hit by rising energy and fuel costs. Our fuel bills in order to keep our maintenance staff on the road have risen significantly. In terms of the housing market, Roddons is still on track to deliver 500 new homes across Fenland during its first five years. We have noticed that some developers are now more cautious due to the credit crunch and that there are not as many development opportunities coming through as we would ordinarily have expected at this stage. We also anticipate that there will be a rise in people applying for social housing. Some of these people are likely to be potential first time buyers who are simply unable to get a mortgage at the moment as there are fewer borrowing options.

I can't afford to buy a property, how can Roddons help?

As part of our commitment to new homes, Roddons is making some of those properties available through our NewBuild HomeBuy scheme. This enables people to buy a share in a property and then pay rent on the remaining share.

They can usually purchase between 25-75 per cent, which they take out a mortgage for, and then rent the remaining share from Roddons.

There are restrictions on the maximum household income in order for people to be eligible for this scheme. It allows people the flexibility of becoming a purchaser without having to secure such a high mortgage so provides residents with the opportunity to get onto the housing ladder.