Housing associations are voluntary organisations dedicated to helping people obtain decent, affordable accommodation which meets their needs. ‘Voluntary’ means that they are free to exist and determine their own affairs, and that board members (trustees or directors) usually volunteer their time freely to govern the organisation whilst employing paid staff to undertake the day-to-day work.
Many smaller Housing Associations are associated with a particular geographical area, with board members drawn from the local community. Not every town centre will have a local housing association, but many do.
The main function of housing associations is to provide and rent out housing. If your local housing association owns housing stock in your town centre, or would like to build new housing in the town centre, it could have an important role in regenerating the town centre. Housing associations usually work closely with local authority housing departments to meet local communities’ housing needs and access funding from the Scottish Government.
As well as providing homes, housing associations often take on other related activities to support their local community, in their role as community-based social enterprises. For example, Govan Housing Association runs a digital training programme, a community hub and employability training for local residents. Each of these things contributes to the local ‘town centre’ in Govan.
The Scottish Federation of Housing Associations is the voice and membership body for housing associations and co-operatives in Scotland, and its website contains more information on how they operate and what they do.