Liverpool City Council has appointed Frank Hont, former councillor and cabinet member for housing until he lost his seat in May’s local elections, as chairman of its newly-formed housing company Foundations.
Hont will sit alongside the council’s director of regeneration Nick Kavanagh, who signed-off on his appointment, on the board of Foundations, and will now recruit further housing specialists to the board in order to deliver on the company’s target of 2,000 homes in its first two years.
Joining Hont at Foundations as chief executive is the council’s current assistant director of regeneration Mark Kitts, who is set to be seconded from the council for two years.
While Hont was cabinet member for housing, he was involved in projects such as Placefirst’s Welsh Streets, Marwood Towers, and tackled issues such as landlord licensing, and housing management organisations.
Kitts has led on the delivery of many major regeneration schemes having worked for Liverpool City Council since 2002. These include the Anfield Project, Great Homer Street’s Project Jennifer, Lime Street Regeneration and more recently Ten Streets and Paddington Village.
Foundations aims to deliver 10,000 new homes over the coming decade and is the flagship housing policy for Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson 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 homes for the company; 120 properties to be built on a cleared former housing estate in Yew Tree area of the City.
Formally established in January, Foundations 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 is earmarked as a £500m programme, and is seen by the council as fundamental to addressing both the city’s need to develop 30,000 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.
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.”