Chair appointed to lead new housing company

Liverpool City Council has appointed a Chair to lead its new ethical housing company – Foundations.

Following the Foundations Board meeting, the Board agreed to Frank Hont joining the Board of Directors and becoming Chair. Frank will now establish a small Board of housing experts to take the company forward quickly and deliver 2,000 new homes in its first two years.

Frank, a former Councillor and Cabinet Member for Housing at Liverpool City Council, has been chosen to be Chairman having been at the helm of many successful housing and community initiatives over the past few years involving the delivery of 5,000 new and refurbished homes, including great housing projects like the Welsh Streets, Marwood Towers and cutting edge initiatives such as Landlord Licencing, tackling HMOs and the review of Student Accommodation across the city.

The Board also agreed to appoint Mark Kitts as its Chief Executive subject to the City Council agreeing to second Mark for an initial two year period.

Mark has been directly involved and has lead on the delivery of many major regeneration schemes having worked for Liverpool City Council since 2002, most notably the Anfield Project, Great Homer Street’s Project Jennifer, Lime Street regeneration and more recently Ten Streets and Paddington Village.

Foundations, which aims to deliver 10,000 new homes over the coming decade is the flagship housing policy for the Mayor of Liverpool who wants to use the company to rebalance the city’s social housing stock, revolutionise the rent to buy sector and drive up council tax receipts for the council.

The appointments follows the recent approval for the first wave of new homes for the company – 120 properties to be built on cleared former housing estate in Yew Tree area of the city.

Formally established in January, it has been tasked with creating bespoke properties for the homeless, foster carers, large families, the elderly and people with a disability and to improve the availability of good quality, affordable homes in the city.

Mayor Anderson said: “I’m delighted Frank and Mark have accepted these roles – Foundations is going to be a complete game changer to the city’s housing sector and we need people with their expertise and experience to guide its progress. There’s a very busy agenda in front of them, not least building the team and developing plans for more sites across Liverpool, from Croxteth to Speke, with the aim of delivering 2,000 homes by the end of 2020. I look forward to working with them both to deliver a programme that will radically change the lives of thousands of families in this city.”

Foundations, which is earmarked as a £500m programme, is seen as fundamental to addressing both the city’s need to develop 30,000 new homes by 2030 and its economic future as surveys show the city’s housing supply dominated by small terraced houses, which skews the city’s council tax revenues.

For Foundations the profits of both house sales and rentals will be returned to the council, as the only shareholder in the company, with a percentage reinvested in new stock.

Frank Hont said: “I’m honoured to have been chosen to lead Foundations. We have a lot to do and plans are already taking shape. Good quality housing is fundamental to building a better society and this new company is going to make a massive difference to the quality of life to communities right across Liverpool – such as tackling HMOs and vacant properties.

“Another key benefit is that Foundations will enable the city council to future proof the housing market for an ageing population, ensuring people can live independently for longer and provide intermediary accommodation that help keeps people out of long-term hospital stays. This is huge in terms of taking the strain off the NHS and giving the elderly and their families the dignity and support they need. I look forward to working with Mark to create a team that shares this attitude and to deliver these exciting changes.”

Mark Kitts said: Foundations has huge potential and my aim is to ensure it underpins the council’s other major strategic housing goals such as the renewal of older neighbourhoods, the creation of new communities and increasing the levels of home ownership in the city. We will be offering tenants rental products that will enable residents to move from rental to home ownership. This will be a massive shift for the housing sector in Liverpool and I look forward to supporting Frank and the Mayor to deliver this vision.”

Liverpool Waterfront