The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant impact on Housing Associations and indeed their residents too. The pandemic hit and significant changes had to be made swiftly but many of the reverberations of the pandemic will be felt for quite some time yet. Meeting the requirements on governance set out in the Governance and Financial Viability Standard is essential to ensure that Housing Associations are thriving, efficient, viable organisations able to gain suitable investment to fulfil its duty but with the increasing pressures this is a difficult task.
Funding and housing decreased
Funding and the building of affordable housing has decreased over several decades. Unfortunately, the COVID 19 pandemic and indeed Brexit will have exacerbated this issue even more. With construction materials and labour scarce while demand is high, costs have significantly increased.
Housing Associations are also still dealing with the aftereffects of the Grenfell tragedy. Enhanced building requirements have also increased the financial pressure for Housing Associations. The Decent Homes Review which is scheduled to be completed this Autumn may well also require some additional unplanned spending for Housing Associations too.
Improving tenant engagement using digitalisation
The COVID-19 pandemic has left many residents with deteriorated health and general well-being. Many have experienced reduced income, food shortages, stress and social isolation which will have had a negative impact. It is therefore crucial that housing associations provide a high quality and empathetic service to residents. Ensuring that their issues are listened to and responded to within a reasonable timeframe is vital. Using online resources to aid communication although effective in terms of speed and efficiency also come with an initial cost to set up and promote. Good relationship and channels of communication will help deter any reputational risk against the Housing Association.
Housing Associations were tested in their crisis management during the pandemic. Ensuring that core services continued and that residents were supported was a key priority for Housing Associations.
Importance of Risk Management
As you can see, many risks Housing Associations are currently facing are increasing costs to provide a better-quality product and service. Demonstrating effective risk management surrounding these issues will be critical to ensure that Housing Associations can deal with these challenges effectively and can continue to raise appropriate funding from investors and ensure that these increasing demands can be met while still providing their core services and housing targets too.