Despite the impact of the pandemic, Respond are confident that they will surpass their housing targets and make significant progress on the seven core goals outlined in their ambitious Strategic Plan out to 2023.
Respond is an approved housing body (AHB) and service provider working all around Ireland. Approved housing bodies are not for profit organisations that have a social purpose to provide for people’s housing needs. Respond work to deliver social and affordable homes that are urgently needed in partnership with State agencies including local authorities, the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, the Housing Finance Agency and many others. Respond currently have 1,288 homes in construction and on site around the country.
2020 is a year like no other but Respond are confident that they will surpass their housing targets. While housing delivery has been affected by the pandemic, Respond say they have reviewed their situation from both a financial and a human resource perspective and are confident in their ability to deliver on Strategic Plan commitments.
Increasing housing stock by over 2,500 new homes
In 2019, the organisation published their Strategic Plan 2019-2023, the result of a comprehensive strategic planning process to guide and direct the work of Respond. The Strategic Plan includes seven core goals which encompass work across the entire organisation. The Development Department is tasked with delivering one of the core goals, to increase their housing stock by over 2,500 new homes nationwide over the lifetime of the strategy.
Respond say their aim is to deliver high quality homes that will transform people’s lives and represent value for money. They are one of the few AHBs to have their own in-house multi-disciplinary development team comprising of registered architects, quantity surveyors, planners, project managers, clerk of works and technicians. The team, led by the Parag Joglekar as Head of Development, focus on innovation and delivering homes through strengthening existing relationships and building new relationships.
For Respond the journey with tenants only begins when they hand over the keys to their new home. The experience of those who will live in each social housing estate is central; this means ensuring not just the quality of the homes but also the quality of life for the people who will live there. Respond’s approach to housing provision is holistic, cognisant of design and proximity to services, of housing quality and maintenance and the wider public benefit.
Ensuring well run estates where people want to live
Respond’s commitment is to deliver excellent services and quality homes for Respond tenants. With almost 10,400 tenants across the country, Respond have a Housing Department comprising of three teams with over 50 staff, including the Customer Services Centre, the Asset Management team and the Tenant Relations team, led by Neil Bolton as the Head of Housing.
The Tenant Relations team are the face of Respond, actively involved in community development on their estates working with individuals, tenant groups and the wider community to help develop and sustain thriving communities. 2019 saw an increase in the number of units Respond either own or manage by 529; of these 418 are Respond social housing tenancies. They also manage some homes on behalf of third parties eg iCare and units in group homes. The Customer Services Centre is the first point of contact for all tenants as well as any other general caller. The team deal with the vast range of tenant enquiries, focusing on successfully resolving all queries at this first point of contact.
The Asset Management team are responsible for the ongoing repair and maintenance of Respond’s properties. As an organisation in existence for almost 40 years this is an important part of the work ensuring the comfort and safety of tenants, as well as compliance under relevant legislation requirements. Upgrade works were undertaken on 56 homes under the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) Deep Retro Fit Pilot scheme.
Own door emergency accommodation with wraparound supports
In response to the number of families who are finding themselves homeless, Respond opened their sixth homeless service in Santry (Dublin) in 2019. This Northwood Green service is an ‘own door’ apartment service, meaning that each family has their own private apartment space where 24/7 support is provided for up to 23 families at any given time. This service has been developed, using the learning from Respond’s other homeless services. Own door model of accommodation with support is their preferred form of emergency accommodation provision where possible.
The organisation has found that families experiencing homelessness often need ongoing, wraparound support in relation to accessing housing, mental and physical health services, family or parenting support and a range of other issues. On average, the families move on to homes of their own after between six and seven months and work continues with families once they have moved on to ensure they sustain their new accommodation. Respond acknowledge that the solution to homelessness is access to secure and affordable homes with support for those who need it therefore commitments to ramping up supply are key in this context.
I have a secure home in which the landlord is not going to knock on the door and advise he is selling up. The quality of the house is amazing. I still walk in the door and go wow! It’s lovely knowing I am going home into a dry, comfortable and warm house. For the first time in a long time I am not dreading the cost of trying to heat my home for the winter.”
— Sylvia, Respond tenant
Working to Improve lives in our communities
Housing does not exist in isolation but is part of a community impacted by the wider socio-economic context. It is vital that new housing developments, so badly needed, also have vital community infrastructure such as those that Respond provide. Respond have 16 Early Childhood Care and Education services where they provide pre-school, after school and full day care services. A Family Support teamwork with 54 families providing a range of brief intervention programmes including parent support groups, homework club and afterschool support. Respond provides Daycare for Older People services to support older people to remain living independently in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. Their Refugee Resettlement Services work with refugees who have been forced to leave their homes providing support to integrate into local communities. Local services such as these, led by Head of Services Louisa Carr, can be the glue that creates and binds a community together.
Respond work collaboratively with their partners in local authorities, government departments, development and construction companies, institutional investors, contractors and external design teams and consultants to deliver homes and services for people who need them. Respond say their partners are essential to the work of Respond in achieving their goals for the delivery of additional social housing and provision of services. Respond are dedicated to playing their part, building homes throughout the country and providing services for families and individuals who need them.
T: 01 808 7700