Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, One Housing can trace its origins all the way back to 1966 when it was originally founded as a housing association – a point from which the company has grown and developed over the years. Unique to the evolution of One Housing’s infrastructure, however, is that the organisation has not only solidified its position as a leading housing association, with a reputation to suit, but also branched out into a multivarious raft of associated property offerings, the most prominent of which are Citystyle and One Direct.
With over 15,000 units across London and the South East, One Housing is positioned as a modern social enterprise dedicated to the provision of high quality homes able to facilitate a better standard of life. Its well established housing care and support arm is, a keen provider of care and support projects as well as senior living accommodation and the current development of high-end care homes is a prime example of this. In recent years it has developed specialist service offerings, including Citystyle and One Direct , which offer comprehensive property management and in-house maintenance respectively.
“Like any property company we see our position as managing people’s homes, but we also take a broader view in terms of the well-being of a community as a whole. This means takinglong-term decisions that will benefit them. We also have a more comprehensive offer than many of our competitors due to the wide range of expertise within our control. This is where One Direct comes in.” explains Matthew Saye, Director of Citystyle.
Serving as a core area for the organisation’s future progress, One Direct signifies an integration of further in-house services to support the daily operations of the wider company and provide a far more proficient end-to-end service to residents and clients alike. Undertaking a wide assortment of works, the One Direct service portfolio includes: day-to-day responsive repairs, gas servicing, mechanical and electrical works, all the way through to planned work, decorating and more. Though a relatively new arm to the business, One Direct has operatives on the ground and represents the opportunity to be a driving force for the business in times to come.
Noting the importance of One Direct in supporting the ambitions, goals and ethos of the wider One Housing Group, Saye illustrates further: “It’s important for a number of reasons. Quality is one of the main drivers in terms of our customer service and what we can offer. We think that people’s expectations around how their properties are managed, the way that services are provided and the quality of competencies of workers, have come on a long way. We need to continually anticipate our customers needs and respond to them – that’s very much the initial focus in this year where we’re rolling One Direct out.”
Yet, in addition to supporting the group’s historic position as a housing association, One Direct is also regarded as a means by which the company can expand its property management capability, bringing more of the associated, yet essential services in-house. Now able to offer a far more complete service, it is effectively One Direct that will allow Citystyle to spread its wings and target a growing number of external clients whilst simultaneously ensuring a high degree of quality across all elements of the service.
As a managing agent, One Housing, through Citystyle, offers a flexible service to cover a wide range of properties, including multi-use and multi-tenure properties of varying scheme sizes. Yet where the company’s unique capabilities come into the fold are in the way in which this service is provided, and the company’s understanding of people’s needs and wants from a housing perspective, attributed to the company’s history of operation. As Saye further says: “We understand how to engage and involve our residents, as well as how to overcome some of the more challenging issues that a managing agent might not be used to looking at. When you have a large mixed-tenure development in the centre of London, we’re well equipped to deal with some of problems that could arise such as anti social behaviour. We have the skills already to deal with this and, part of what makes CityStyle a strong offer is that we can be the one point of contact to deal with any issue that happens to occur.”
But of course, plans for expansion and diversification don’t stop with One Direct and Citystyle, as the organisation looks to develop an increasing raft of associated property services, notably including a complete gas service. Looking to the future, we can only see this integration of in-house services growing further and, combined with the organisation’s approach to resident care and handling, the company’s stability, integrity and prospects surely look good.
Say’s final comments are clear: “We’re not going anywhere. We’re incredibly financially robust and when it comes down to a residents level, the service they get is absolute. We are always there, we are always capable and we are a unique contractor, always available, always a presence which other competitors can’t always match. Property management is all about being a reactive issue and letting the resident know that if something goes wrong that they can get hold of someone and it will simply be resolved. They can always engage with us, and in a meaningful way.”