Wednesday, 3 December 2008

(Decent) Homes for Haringey

Last week, the Chief Executive of Homes for Haringey, Paul Bridge, visited the estate I live on in Highgate. I had arranged the visit having spoken to him a couple of months ago, when I alerted him to the fact that the ALMO is seriously failing in several ways.

It was a positive evening, and some of my neighbour attended, eager to put across their views. Paul Bridge has been the Chief Executive of the ALMO for 6 months now, and is very candid when it comes to admitting that the organisation has problems. He is trying to get his 800 staff to adopt a 'can-do' attitude, something some (though not all) of them lack at present.

We talked about the 'Decent Homes' programme, which is already underway. We were concerned that our estate isn't going to be dealt with until the final year (2012-13). That's a long time for people who are living in damp, cold flats with ancient windows, as some of the people in neighbouring blocks are doing. I recently showed the Chief Exec's Project Officer around my 90 year old neighbour's flat. The smell of damp hit us as soon as we entered the ground floor flat. It is no surprise that this pensioner is in and out of hospital with respiratory problems. "When are they going to do something?" she implored us. When indeed.

Paul Bridge told us that they are asking the Government if they can complete the Decent Homes programme in 4 years instead of the planned 6, which would mean our estate will get sorted two years earlier than is planned presently.

I hope this can happen. I am lucky - our block, although a bit damp (the windows go black with mould if we don't wash them down regularly) is no way as bad as a lot of the blocks on the estate.

I also hope that when the repairs are done, they are done to a standard which means they last and don't need doing again soon. (Especially as it will be us Leaseholders who will be forking out a considerable amount of money each to help pay for it all!)

The Chief Exec admitted that for years now Homes for Haringey has just been 'managing decline' and that some of the housing in the borough is in a truly shocking state. Let's hope, then, that the 'Decent Homes' programme can rectify that - and the sooner, the better.

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