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

Series of events celebrate CIH's centenary


A series of events will take part across the country on December 8 and 9 to celebrate CIH's centenary.

The events are being held by our regional boards to mark the 100th anniversary of CIH and professional housing.

On December 8 our West Midlands Board will celebrate the last century and look forward to explore how housing organisations will meet demand in the region. The free event at Sandwell Council is open to members and non-members.

Elsewhere on the same day our South West Board will welcome fashion designer Wayne Hemingway and speakers from the National Trust, Swindon Borough Council and Sovereign Housing Association for a centenary event at Swindon Steam Museum.

And also on December 8 our North East Board will host networking event at the Beamish Museum in County Durham where anyone in housing can celebrate CIH's centenary.

Then on December 9 the East Midlands Board will also host a centenary event at De Montfort University which will feature a talk from Prof Jo Richardson from the unversity on the role of women in the sector and a lecture from Prof Tim Brown on the future of housing in the region.

A brief history

CIH, and indeed modern social housing, owe their beginnings to that formidable character Octavia Hill.

Octavia was an extraordinary woman, born into an upper middle class family in 1838, she was one of a band of workers who laboured among the poor in London and envisioned housing which went beyond bricks and mortar.

It was her view that as long as housing was owned by landlords whose sole motivation was bringing in rental income it was impossible to ensure a society in which the poorest of families could live in clean, comfortable and decent homes.

‘You cannot deal with the people and their houses separately’, she once said, and her vision was simple – to make ‘lives noble, homes happy and family life good’. More than a century and a half later you would struggle to find a housing provider who doesn’t have a version of this as their mission statement.

It was Octavia who first conceived the idea of buying squalid homes, collecting weekly rents and transforming both the dwellings and the tenants in them. The mission started with three houses in poor condition near her own home in Marylebone. She encouraged tenants to keep their houses in a clean condition and set aside a certain amount every year for repairs; the surplus was used for improvements decided upon by the tenants themselves.

From here her influence and her model of better housing grew, with new accommodation and new principles, including the turning of wasteland into playgrounds and the creation of clubs for tenants. In return she was extremely strict and her assistants, the front runners for today’s housing officers, checked the properties on their visits to collect rent.

Octavia’s vision was a big success and by 1874, with the help of various backers, she had 15 housing schemes with around 3,000 tenants.

After her death the women who worked with her, in particular Irene Barclay, took her vision of housing for those who needed it the most and established the Association of Women Housing Managers in 1916. This was the first ever professional body for housing workers and would grow to become the CIH.

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