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    Over our Heads
    Key workers get the key to the door!
    Key workers
    Nurses enjoying breakfast in their new kitchen at Lavender Crescent

    With very high property prices in some areas, how do employers recruit people to key services? Key worker housing is on the up, but what is it and who is eligible? We spoke to Daisy Cardona, Accommodation Manager for some key worker schemes in St Albans.


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    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.

    London Strategic Housing (LSH) is a charitable housing association that has been working in partnership with the NHS and other keyworker employers to provide quality affordable homes for rent across London and its environs since 1996.

    High quality furnished accommodation has been specifically designed and developed for nurses, teachers, junior doctors, transport workers and other keyworkers from both public and private sector organisations that contribute to maintaining core services.

    LSH has already invested £50 million to provide over 1500 homes for keyworkers and has a significant development pipeline.

    get in contact

    As a result of high property prices in St Albans, employers have found it hard to both recruit and retain key staff such as teachers, police officer and NHS staff.

    London Strategic Housing has been working with the West Herts NHS Trust and St Albans District Council to address this issue and has provided some high quality accommodation for more than 100 key workers in St Albans at rent that is below the normal market price.

    Lavender Crescent
    Lavender Crescent

    But what exactly is key worker housing? Who is eligible and how do you apply?

    Daisy Cardona is the Accommodation Manager for key worker schemes in St Albans run by London Strategic Housing and she explained exactly what it was all about.

    What do you think of the current housing market?
    It's very expensive to buy and to rent, many people with high flyer jobs London are looking to come and move to St Albans and I think this in turn keeping the prices rising.

    How did this particular project for key workers in Lavender Crescent, St Albans come about?
    This accommodation is owned by the West Herts NHS trust, and they have placed it in the hands of London Strategic Housing to manage the lettings and control of the properties. We are now responsible for managing the 52 new and 61 refurbished tenancies via a lease with the NHS Trust.

    What sort of accommodation is it?
    There are 14 new self-contained houses providing shared accommodation for 52 key workers within three and four bedroom houses. Each tenancy has a private room with an en-suite bathroom and a shared kitchen.

    Who is this accommodation available for?
    The new build accommodation is available for single people who work directly for the West Herts NHS Trust. But if there are not enough nominations from these people then the properties will become available for other key workers within the area.

    Who decides the eligibility of the applicants?
    We have a site services manager who is based in Hemel Hempsted, who is responsible for nominating suitable people for this accommodation.

    Interested parties fill in application forms through her and we then take further action to allocate them any available accommodation that we have.

    Unlike other housing associations we only deal with rented accommodation and are not involved with shared ownership properties.

    Can you tell me how you determine what is affordable rent?
    We determine our price rates for rent by reviewing the current market prices. As our organisation is non-profit making, we ensure our rental rates are below the true market value.

    A typical bedroom in Lavender Crescent

    What happens if an NHS worker allocated a property then leaves the profession?
    These properties are not designed to be a permanent solution to their housing problem, therefore if they decide to leave their job then they will no longer be entitled to live in the premises.

    What other projects does London Strategic Housing operate?
    We operate tenancies near our head office in Harrow, which have been in operation for over two years now. They were unveiled by London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, as the first Key Worker housing built by the LSH.

    We also operate six other sites in Islington and Hackney, as well as our operations here in Darwin Close in St Albans, which are managed by us but owned by the District Council.

    When will the accommodation in Lavender Crescent officially be opened?
    The properties will be officially opened at the end of July by local MP Kerry Pollard. At the moment we are still waiting for the official confirmation as to how many people have been allocated property here but any shortfall will be available for key workers.

    Are you a nurse, healthcare worker, teacher, train driver, bus driver, fire fighter, etc? If so, you could be eligible for accomodation with affordable rent.

    Do the Key Worker eligibility test >>

    your comments

    Selina Stein, Aylesbury Monday, 04-Oct-2004 19:19:53 BST
    I am hopefully getting a job at the stoke manderville hospital when i qualify as a midwife in May 2005. I shall be moving from colchester in essex to aylesbury with 4 children. If I get a job will I qualify for this scheme?


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