Hightown Housing Association has been celebrating its 50th anniversary this month.
Founded by local volunteers in Hemel Hempstead and St. Albans 50 years ago, today Hightown has 5,500 homes, an annual turnover of £71m and 860 staff across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire.
But with rough sleeping and homelessness growing and rising property prices meaning that more and more people each year cannot afford to buy or rent, there is still a huge need for Hightown to do more.
Hightown Chief Executive David Bogle said:
“Everyone at Hightown – residents, staff and board members – has a lot to be proud of as we celebrate our 50th anniversary. We’ve come a long way since 1967 but we remain true to our roots, continuing to provide much-needed affordable homes for local people.
Over the next two years, we’ll deliver 1,200 new affordable homes across Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire and we have recently increased our supported housing operations by 50% to help meet growing demand’’
Care for the vulnerable and disabled
Hightown remains committed to providing homes to those in most in need including around 130 people with learning disabilities as well as providing dedicated support schemes ranging from homeless night shelters to blocks of individual flats with staff on the premises to registered care homes.
Over 80% of staff provide dedicated support to vulnerable and disabled people, currently delivering over 16,000 support hours per week.
Strong local roots
Hightown Housing Association was formed on 19th July 1967 by a group of local Hemel Hempstead councillors. Around the same time, Alban (later Praetorian) Housing Association was formed in St Albans and also St Albans and District Churches Housing Association (SADCHA) both of which, would eventually merge to become one of the region’s largest providers of affordable homes.
The 1960s was marked by flower power, revolution and post-war austerity and inspired by Ken Loach’s ‘Cathy Come Homes’, volunteers and churches across the country set up housing associations to tackle homelessness.
In 1995, Hightown Praetorian had 1,000 homes, an annual turnover of £3m and 60 full time staff. In 2003, SADCHA joined taking homes under management to 2,200, £14m turnover and 360 staff.
In the last ten years, Hightown has more than doubled its housing portfolio to 5,500 with a development programme that will see it increase to almost 7,000 by 2020.