Four housing associations come together to change the story for families who have had to put their ‘happily ever after’ on hold because they can’t find a suitable home.
Claire Higgins is Chief Executive at Cross Keys Homes and Chair of Evera Homes
23 August 2018
Strong partnerships are essential to achieving success. I think that’s a belief shared by the majority of leading housing associations because as a sector we’re very good at spotting opportunities to maximise the impact we make without increasing the resource required. That’s why when the opportunity arose for four of us to join forces and collaborate we all recognised the huge potential in this new approach.
Flagship Group, Hyde Group, Longhurst Group and Cross Keys Homes have come together to create Evera Homes, an limited liability partnership (LLP) with the primary aim to stretch resources to tackle the drastic shortage of quality, affordable homes in our region in a way that we wouldn’t be able to achieve independently. In other words, we saw the potential to give more people the chance to live happily and healthily in good quality homes, because ultimately we know that they don’t really care about the funding arrangements and whose name is on the hoarding – they just need homes, and they need them desperately.
In one sense we’re all competitors, but that’s largely because we have common goals and have all invested in improving lives and increasing housing supply in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough – making us ideal partners so we are strong but healthy competitors. The four of us already deliver a third of the homes for all social housing tenants in the area, but we know that together we can do even more.
Through Evera Homes, there’s an opportunity to unlock larger sites that would have been a challenge for any of us alone. We also share the risk and reward, just as in other joint ventures, so that we can reinvest funds in other projects – at Cross Keys Homes we’ll be taking the opportunity to further invest in our own development programme to make sure that we can continue to deliver homes for social rent as well as affordable rent and shared ownership.
Each of us will bring our skills, expertise and local knowledge to the table to deliver the start on site of at least an additional 2,000 new homes by 2023. Evera Homes also offers a very flexible platform for investment in partnerships with others in the public and private sector so our stretch ambition is to work with partners to double this number of homes and bring 4,000 new homes to the area.
Achieving that goal will require creativity and further collaboration, particularly with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and local authority partners too. But we know there is strong economic growth in the area and a desire to provide local communities with the homes they aspire to, and this partnership will help us to maximise on the good relationships we each already enjoy independently. We’re also keen to use our combined investment to increase employment opportunities in the region and will be working with SME contractors wherever possible to support the local economy.
As Chair of Evera Homes, I’m looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead. This is a new approach to joint ventures so there will be learning points for each of us as we bring our four businesses together to create a fifth entity that can deliver much more than the sum of our parts.
Through our combined reputation, financial strength and desire to succeed Evera Homes should become a name well-known throughout our region over the next few years, and perhaps even inspire others to follow suit. But for us, the true measure of success is about people, because we want to change the story for those families who have had to put their ‘happily ever after’ on hold because they can’t find a suitable home. That value unites us and that’s what will secure this partnership’s success.