People First Housing Association was formed in 1993 when a group of residents in Hulme, Manchester decided to take control of the future of their tenancies.
By April 1995 the association was managing its first properties and by January 1996 it had achieved registration with the Housing Corporation.
The association now owns and manages in the region of 300 properties of various sizes in Hulme and its tenants are encouraged to get actively involved in making decisions about the future of People First and their homes by becoming Board members or helping with policy reviews. People First also provides and manages temporary accommodation for households presenting as homeless in partnership with Vale Royal council.
People First also operates an established and well-respected Community Support Service operating across three local authorities, working with vulnerable people who have a range of needs.
The roots of the the association in Hulme
Our Chair, Adrian Lohrey, is a tenant of People First and has lived in Hulme for over 10 years. Here is his account of the the story of People First:
"People First grew out of the redevelopment of the Hulme district of Manchester. This was proposed by the government in the early 1990s. It was decided that the existing council housing stock was to be demolished and replaced by a mix of social housing and homes for sale. The social housing was to be owned and managed by established housing associations. The government also wanted to have a community-based housing association, which would involve local people in its decision making processes.
"People First was initially set up by a group of local people, who wanted to establish this community-based housing association. The main difference between People First and all of the other social landlords was that tenants would form a majority on the Board, allowing them to be involved in the decision-making. The ethos of this association was to actively involve tenants in these processes at whatever level they were happy with.
"In the early years, People First was run by a voluntary committee of local people with guidance from a partner association, Manchester and District. At this time, People First was not actually managing any properties and employed no staff. The service was carried out by North British, who managed 83 properties for just under a year. During this period the association’s progress was also being monitored by the Housing Corporation, who used to oversee the work of all social landlords.
"The most important milestone for the association came in 1996 when the Housing Corporation agreed to the registration of People First as a fully-fledged Housing Association. This was vital, as only with registration could we take on a loan to buy our properties. It was particularly important as small associations like People First are less economically viable. At the time we managed only 200 properties.
"The association has gone from strength to strength since 1995. The number of staff employed has grown to more than fifty. We are now involved in working with three local authorities across the North West, providing support to vulnerable people with a range of needs. This growth in the business has been essential in securing our longer term viability. Commiunity support is vital in helping the association continue growing and employing staff, to make People First run efficiently.
"We have not lost our focus on the local community in Hulme. We are still striving to actively involve local people in the decisions we take regarding their housing and other issues. Our commitment has been and will remain to continue this work."
People First milestones:
1993: Spurred by the political changes inducing a new phase in Hulme's history, a group of local residents decide to unite their efforts and form People First.
1995: People First opens an office in Hulme to manage its first properties. Kulbinder Kang (now Chief Executive) is appointed as its first and only employee.
1996: People First registers with the Housing Corporation and is recognised as a social landlord.
1997: The association buys its first 201 properties.
2002: People First diversifies its work with the creation of the Community Support Service in Manchester, supporting people with mental health issues. Later that year, our homelessness project launched in Tameside.
2003: People First starts supporting young people in Vale Royal and Asian women in Rochdale.
2005: People First pilots a service for Irish men with issues around alcohol misuse and/or homelessness in Manchester.
2006: People First celebrates its tenth year as a Registered Provider.
2006: People First starts providing and managing temporary accommodation in Vale Royal.
2007: People First starts supporting young people in Tameside. Later that year, the Dementia Support service is launched in Manchester
2009: People First launches befriending services in Rochdale and Tameside.
2010: People First moves to new offices at City Road East.
2012: People First launches volunteer service, helping support older people in Hulme and Moss Side.
2014: People First expands volunteering service through partnership with Southway Housing Trust
2015: People First starts offering management services to housing co-operatives.
2016: People First makes plans to move into the day nursery sector...