Why is good communication important for housing associations?
According to Shelter there are 89,000 people waiting for an affordable home in Wales and 1.2 million in England. The provision of more safe, secure and affordable housing remains at the top of the political and media agenda. It’s an identified market with a clear purpose and legislative framework to go with it.
At Grasshopper we have experience working on major projects with developers, regeneration consultancies, housing associations and tenant groups and what we’ve found across all of these, is that good communications is a must-have.
Raising your profile
There have been a number of damning headlines on troubles at some housing associations across the UK which have exposed a lack of care, poor quality and upsetting standards of living. We also mustn’t forget the tragic case of two-year-old Awaab Ishak or the Grenfell fire.
When we look at the increasing challenges in the housing market, it has never been more essential to engage your residents and tenants, colleagues and partners, local authorities and councillors to use your voice for good, build stronger partnerships and enhance and protect your reputation. After all, effective communications are a key part of delivering your plans for the future and by having a more strategic approach to partnerships, you can achieve more together.
Planning communication to support future development is not a given
While many housing associations pick up new stock from development sites or local council management, this isn’t enough to meet demand and associations will need to continue to pursue new development opportunities. Even the provision of 100% affordable units on a scheme doesn’t guarantee easy planning success.
Internal communications to help recruit and retain colleagues
Good communications can support engagement with clients as well as colleagues and the importance of getting the method and messaging right is often key to success. Many housing association managers and housing officers are working with clients on a daily basis who are struggling with a myriad of different issues. Having a robust internal communications strategy to show colleagues they are valued and respected is essential for retention and growth.
So while it’s easy to feel that housing associations have received some bad press recently, we believe that through good communications housing associations can make sure they are well positioned to achieve their future ambitions.
The Welsh Government has committed to building 20,000 low carbon affordable homes, so the interest and intent is there for the affordable housing agenda – it just needs comms and political will to push on through.