HOUSING PROFESSIONAL FOR ST HELENA
Arriving on 13 November 2012 will be Andy Crowe, the new Housing Executive for St Helena Government.
Andy’s primary task will be to make better use of empty properties on St Helena, improve the way that the Government Landlord Housing and Chief Secretary Houses are managed and set in train the development of 350 new homes.
Speaking with Andy about his future work with housing on St Helena, he said:
“It’s a small Island but there are some really big issues to tackle. I don’t want St Helena to end up with the sort of housing market that you see in places like St Ives in Cornwall, where half the homes are second homes and house prices are over 12 times local incomes. In many ways St Helena is a blank canvas and it offers the chance to produce original, local and more successful long term solutions than I see elsewhere.”
Andy added that his main aim will be to work in partnership with Saints and get to know as many people and their housing issues as soon as he arrives.
“I quite like the idea of having a regular, informal ‘surgery’ in a coffee house or some other venue. When I worked on the Isles of Scilly, I let everybody know that I’d be in the Working Men’s Club on the Saturday night. This helped to break down the understandable shyness and concern that people had about this strange man from the mainland.”
Andy has identified the challenge of ensuring that everyone benefits from the regeneration of the Island and that its incredible environment is protected.
“It’s clear from the Housing Strategy where you want to get to, but all of the interested parties – local people, landowners, builders, planners, architects, Councillors and everyone else at SHG - have to work together if we are going to get there. It isn’t going to be a nine-to-five job.
“On the environment, I start from a position that good quality housing can enhance the environment – it is more often peoples’ behaviour that is the problem. Education, information and design all have a part to play in addressing this.”
Andy has a wealth of experience in housing and prior to being employed by SHG, was employed as a Director at Solent Housing Partnership. He has worked in housing for many years and among his achievements has developed an award winning empty homes strategy, has managed every professional housing function and enabled many rural and eco housing developments. Four in every ten homes built in East Hampshire on Andy’s watch were genuinely affordable.
“Although house prices were hugely expensive, we managed to avoid having to use bed and breakfast hotels for homeless families for nearly a decade. One of St Helena’s newspaper readers said that he thought you might need Harry Potter to sort things out. Well I don’t have a magic wand and I’m not going to assume that what worked for me in the past will work in St Helena. But I’ll do my best.”
Andy was attracted to this position having first read about St Helena in an edition of the travel magazine Wanderlust around ten years ago.
“Most people go into housing because they want to make a difference and improve peoples’ lives. I still do. Housing has a major part to play in helping St Helena to once again play an important part in the wider world. There’s no point in building an airport if there is nowhere decent for the local people who will be working in the hotels and tourist industry to live. So helping to regenerate an entire island is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. But most importantly, I have been a season ticket holder at Southampton FC for twenty years and they’re called the Saints, so it all makes sense!”
Andy was educated at the Southampton Institute of Higher Education, the University of Manchester and the King Edward VI School, Aston. He is a housing professional and has experience in working on strategic projects, managing budgets (focusing on Value for Money) and meeting the needs of vulnerable and diverse communities.
6 November 2012