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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

Generic vs. specialist: what's the best way of organising housing management?


Jess Page, interim director of housing at Women's Pioneer Housing, gives us a preview of her research on whether generic or specialist housing management teams are most effective ahead of her session at Total Housing 2019.

My first role in housing was as a generic housing officer. I managed a patch of 180 homes in East London and was responsible for all housing management functions. There was no call centre, each tenant had my mobile phone number and I dealt with all their issues and queries. I spent 70 per cent of my time ‘out on patch’ and in tenants' homes. Like my manager used to say: "How do you know your estate is working? You walk it."

The debate continues to rage in the sector whether delivering generic housing management is cost-effective or whether it is effective at all. Certainly many people called me Jack of all trades and master of none on many occasions. I went on to become a benefits adviser, specialising in welfare and focusing my efforts in one area so clearly both models appeal to me personally. I continued to be fascinated by the debate; one day thinking generic management was the best way to organise services and another I would ask: "How can L&Q be so successful and be so specialised on the frontline?" It stumped me.

In 2018 I conducted research with 39 housing management organisations to assess whether generic or specialist housing management has the best outcomes on a range of performance indicators. At Total Housing 2019 I will be presenting my findings. They are a contradiction in many ways - organisations reported switching from both generic to specialist and specialist to generic in pursuit of the same goals of improved satisfaction and efficiencies. Combined performance indicators demonstrate a clear graded performance pattern in favour of one of the models, yet the case studies I examined showed a much more complex picture indicating time, trust, teamwork and consistency as key factors of success.

Come and hear the full results of my research and join the debate at Total Housing 2019.

  • Total Housing 2019 takes place in Brighton on 6-7 March. Jess will be discussing the pros and cons of generic and specialst housing management models on day two in the housing management theatre. Find out more and book your place

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