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05 September 2017

Nottingham Community Housing Association: supporting almshouse charities for over 25 years

Unusually for a housing association, Nottingham Community Housing Association (NCHA) has an almshouse charity in its group structure.

NCHA was set up as a community-based housing association in 1973 by its founder and former Chief Executive Andrew Malone. Its original objective was to buy up inner city terraced homes to house people in need. This was around the time of the expulsion of Asian people from Uganda by the Amin regime, and a large influx of refugees into Nottingham was envisaged.

Some 15 years on, NCHA was approached by the trustees of the Norris Homes Charity for help in restoring the eight almshouses that are situated a stone’s throw away from the Association’s head office. The homes, which were built in 1893, had been badly vandalised and damaged by a serious fire. NCHA and its in-house design team relished the challenge of restoring the homes to their former glory. This was particularly exciting as the Norris Homes were designed by the renowned Victorian architect Watson Fothergill, whose particular style of gothic architecture can still be seen around Nottingham. With the help of grant funding from the then Housing Corporation, NCHA completed the restoration of the homes in 1989, and was invited by the trustees to assume sole corporate trusteeship.

Thus began the Association’s love affair with almshouses

In subsequent years, NCHA worked with a number of almshouse charities in Nottinghamshire, sometimes providing housing management and maintenance services, other times taking over trusteeship if the trustees were struggling to keep the homes occupied and in good repair.

By 2009, NCHA had taken trusteeship of 13 charities with 100 almshouses, and it made sense to create an ‘umbrella charity’ to facilitate more efficient administration, accounting and governance. With the help of the Charity Commission, and the support of the Almshouse Association, Nottingham Community Almshouse Charity (NCAC) was born. A scheme was made which established a common area of benefit and eligibility criteria for beneficiaries, but which preserved the original preferences for beneficiaries of each constituent charity.

Today, with further charities joining the NCHA Group, it has 18 charities and 134 almshouses in management. We have a passion for almshouses at NCHA, and like to think we have played a major part in protecting the legacy of the original benefactors and rescued some beautiful and historic buildings in Nottinghamshire.

But above this, we are proud that we have ensured our almshouses continue to provide good quality, warm and affordable homes for future generations.