Moya Jones is Development Director for Prince Bishops Homes, a subsidiary of Derwentside Homes - a not-for-profit, registered housing provider. With many years of experience working in construction and development, Moya has a wealth of knowledge and well-rounded understanding of the issues and challenges that are facing the industry. Moya will be commenting and offering opinions on these via this online blog but first, in this introduction piece, she talks about her role with Prince Bishops Homes…
What is the best thing about your job?
Being able to solve housing problems for young families.
Helping those just starting out to make their dreams a reality, is a great motivator for me and my role with Prince Bishops Homes gives me the opportunity to positively change people’s lives.
I have grown up children and empathise with young people striving to find a permanent home. Many live in rented accommodation with little or no security and have uncertainties over tenancy length and potential increases in rent. These properties can be damp or of poor quality and it can be difficult to get repairs made.
In addition, rental costs and house price inflation can make saving for a mortgage deposit almost impossible for many and we have discovered that it is this, that poses the biggest barrier to those who would like to buy their own home.
The properties for rent that we deliver are new, high quality and finished with the tenants’ involvement, meaning that they feel like a long-term and secure home. Customers can make life choices, safe in the knowledge that they are not renting from someone who will simply decide to sell up and ask them to move on, six months down the line.
Instead, we work with and support our tenants in becoming mortgage ready and after four years, will offer them the option to buy their home - even providing an added financial incentive – which is linked to any increase in the value of the property over the tenancy tenure. This can then be used towards the buyer’s mortgage deposit.
It is wonderful to be helping people escape from generation rent and take their first steps into home ownership – something that many thought was unachievable.
What is your proudest achievement?
Prince Bishops Homes has gone from strength to strength and I am proud to be part of the team that has overseen this. We plan to deliver over 1,000 homes in the next three years and have become a market leader in the provision of innovative housing solutions – all without one penny of government grant funding. This has meant that we have had to think creatively during times of austerity and our business model is already inspiring many other housing developers across the UK.
Any profits we generate are invested back into providing affordable housing. We are currently working on a development of 32 bungalows near Esh Winning in Durham – a much-needed type of housing that is often overlooked, as it is often seen as financially unviable by private developers.
We have an ageing population and elderly people struggle to find suitable accommodation as their needs change. My own mother is 95 years old and lives with me, so I am keenly aware of the health and mobility issues facing many older people and the essential considerations to be made when designing appropriate housing.
We owe older generations safe and comfortable accommodation that reflects their needs and I am extremely proud that this new development is contributing towards this.
How is your business going to change in the next 10 years?
In uncertain times, with potentially more cuts and austerity, housing associations will need to be more tenacious and flexible if they are to deliver viable housing solutions for the next generation. I suspect that much will be learned from best working practices within in private industry, as we move towards the next decade.
What advice would you give to someone starting a career in the industry?
If you don’t believe something makes sense, question and challenge it. Talk and communicate with those to whom you are providing a service often, whilst continually looking for ways to break down barriers and offer solutions to the issues they face.
What's the best advice you've been given?
To influence decision making positively and in a way that has an impact, you must first look at the bigger picture. To truly help people you need to truly understand the root causes of the problems they face.
What was the biggest challenge you've faced in your career so far?
The culture within a PLC business is very different from a Housing Association and both types of organisation typically have their own strengths and weaknesses. Initially, it was quite a challenge to work out what these differences were and why they were important. I needed to identify and understand these before I could draw on my own strengths - amassed through my work in both sectors - to deliver grounded and well-informed strategies for business development and growth.
What do you like to do out of work?
I am a pianist and play to a good level – often moonlighting at charity events. I find playing absorbing and relaxing and it helps me to unwind at the end of a busy day.