Haig housing Trust, housing the ex-service community

Haig Housing is one of the country’s oldest military charities and has been the UK’s leading provider of rental homes for Veterans and their families for over 100 years.

It has its roots in the ‘The Housing Association for Officers’ Families’, established in 1916 to house wounded officers returning from the Great War who had lost their livelihood, and also officers’ widows. Then when Field Marshal Earl Haig died in 1928 a fund was created in his name by huge public subscription to provide housing for the non-commissioned wounded and their families. This new charity was administered by the same executive and board of Trustees and was named the Douglas Haig Memorial Homes, later to be known as Haig Homes. In 1995, having run side by side, the two charities were merged and by 2013 had rebranded as Haig Housing Trust.

With growth in the 1950s following WW2 and a development programme from the mid-1990s including new build, acquisition and mergers, Haig now has over 1,500 properties located mainly on small estates throughout the British Isles, each with its own history of benevolence and support. The charity has always had Royal Patronage, from the Prince of Wales in 1928 through to our current monarch, Her Majesty The Queen.

General Needs Housing
These properties, mostly built in the 1930’s, 50’s and 90’s, are situated on well managed estates of around 30 properties – although these can range in size from as few as 4 homes up to the largest estate in Morden with some 345. The types of properties vary enormously and comprise family-sized houses, maisonettes and smaller flats, suitable for large families to couples or individuals. 

Often mistaken as a Housing Association, Haig Housing is a charitable provider of housing and its homes are available to qualifying beneficiaries at an appropriately lower rent, roughly comparable to that charged by local authorities to Council tenants.

Properties are available throughout the year and although turnover can be slow, especially in some areas and in the south-east of England in particular, if you are in housing need then it is always worthwhile making an application.

Applying for Housing
The main eligibility criteria are that you must have a British Armed Forces connection and be in housing need and in all case we advise you to visit our website at www.haighousing.org.uk and, under the Applying For Housing tab, read our Guide to Tenant Selection and Property Allocation.

We then ask that you use the online application form or else download a paper copy of this (and send when completed to our postal address). If applying online we first ask you to register for an applicant account. This then provides the opportunity to save a partially completed form and continue it at a later date (although it must be completed within 8 weeks of first registering).

Latest Development
The Trust’s latest development of 68 1-4 bed flats and 2-3 storey houses was opened on its headquarters estate in Morden, South London in October 2018 by Her Majesty The Queen. 

These new homes have internet connections and are designed for the future with excellent insulation and solar panels. Included are seven properties especially designed for disabled people with bathrooms and kitchens adapted for wheelchair use, including height adjustable working surfaces and with external mobility scooter storage. Outside are several electric vehicle charging points with the ability to fit more.

The seven different blocks that make up the development are named after Her Majesty, five military and SOE Victoria and George Cross gallantry recipients and a popular local Ward Councillor who was the London Borough of Merton’s first Armed Forced Champion. They comprise Queen Elizabeth Terrace, Cyril Barton House (RAF), Albert Dugdale House (Army), Jack Cornwell House (RN), Kulbir Thapa House (Army), Odette Sansom House (SOE) and Maxi Martin House (former Merton councillor). The development also includes a memorial garden named after Sergeant Peter Walley RAF who rather than parachute out and risk his Hurricane crash into homes on the estate during the Battle of Britain, managed to hold it clear but was killed when he subsequently crashed on a neighbouring field.

Transitional Housing
The Trust also has a small development of 8 one-bedroomed homes on its Morden estate aimed at single beneficiaries or couples with no dependents which was opened by the then Chief of Defence People, Lieutenant General Richard Nugee CVO CBE in December 2017.

These are aimed primarily at Service leavers and other Veterans returning to the workplace with offers of or plans for work in London but who would not otherwise be able to afford the high costs of London’s commercial rental market. Available on renewable tenancies for at least 2 years, at 60% of the going commercial rate, these aim to provide a housing ‘stepping stone’ until such time as the beneficiary is established in their new career and can more readily afford to move on to other accommodation. 

The Trust, its people and supporters
People have always been at the heart of the charity, whether its beneficiaries, staff or supporters and the Trust has maintained set high standards and aimed to be different. One recent initiative took place in 2018 when the Trust organised “The Long Walk Home”, a 100 mile pilgrimage walk of Veterans, serving personnel and reservists, from the Menin Gate in Ypres to the Cenotaph in Whitehall to recognise the Centenary of the ending of the Great War. The Walk culminated with the Nation’s annual Service of Remembrance on Armistice Day, Sunday 11th November. 

The Trust was also one of the Service charities involved with the Tower of London ceramic poppy installation, “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” at the Tower of London that marked one hundred years since the first full day of Britain’s involvement in the First World War. Created by artists Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, 888,246 ceramic poppies were used in the installation. The Trust was subsequently one of those to benefit enormously from their sale.

Special Housing Needs
Haig also offers special housing solutions for severely wounded and disabled Service and ex-Service personnel. We assist in finding the right home in the right location for the individual, oversee the conveyancing and any adaptations that are required, liaising with Local Authorities, architects and builders as required before then entering into a shared equity/rental arrangement. This helps ensure that the individual can better manage any compensation they have been awarded without having to use it all on housing at the outset of their new life. Of the 60 homes or so obtained in this way since the scheme was first established by Haig under the ‘Coming Home’ fundraising brand some 9 years ago roughly a third have now been fully bought out. In this way the Trust is able to continue providing appropriate housing for those personnel and other Veterans in need of rebuilding their lives following traumatic life changing injuries.

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