The Homes for Londoners team

Everyone deserves a home they can afford. The housing crisis is one of the greatest challenges facing our city, and the Mayor of London is doing everything in his power to tackle it.

We’re already changing things for the better, with over 100,000 genuinely affordable new homes underway. Find out more below about the homes we're building, and the people making it happen.

Meet our people

Meet some of the team driving our work, and find out about their roles and how they find working at the GLA.

Maja Luna Jorgensen - Area Manager, NW London

Maja Luna Jorgensen

Before she joined the GLA, Maja worked for a small charity, empowering communities through design. Now, she’s using that experience to lead and consult on a variety of community-led housing initiatives. Here she talks about some of rewarding work she’s been involved in so far, the impact of the GLA’s work and the drive that everyone shares to make things happen. 

Housing is top of the agenda in London, and in the minds of every single person in the country. It’s a really big societal issue. At the GLA, we actually have the ability to make a real difference and ensure there are more affordable homes for people to live in London.

Before I joined the GLA 3 years ago, I was working for a small charity, empowering communities through design. So, I’d worked a lot with communities to upskill them and given strategic advice to professionals, to help them work better with communities and other stakeholders. It was about improving collaboration and collaborative working.

Now, because of my background, when something comes up that’s about community in housing, I’m encouraged to lead or consult on it. One example is our community-led housing programme. I helped set up the London community-led housing hub, which we launched a couple years ago. Now I’m involved in the community housing fund. I’m on the panel and will be assessing bids for that fund.

It’s great to be able to use my background, skills and understanding to help my colleagues learn how to engage with that sector. And, to help the sector to engage with us a little bit better. It’s nice to be a bit of a bridge.

One of the things I like about the GLA is the strategic regional focus. You’re not working in a tightly defined location or policy area, you actually have an impact across a much broader area. And we manage millions of pounds on a daily basis, which was intimidating at first, coming from a small charity as I did. Now it’s just part of the job.

There’s such a focus on learning and development. I’m helping to organise a new pilot of site visits for colleagues, to enable them to visit projects we’re involved in and meet residents. We’re designing it to help colleagues develop their own learning, and drive improvements for the Homes for Londoners team. We’re testing different ways of interacting with communities and bringing that learning home.

I’ve been utterly impressed by my colleagues, and their drive to make things happen. I’ve only been here for three years but it’s changed enormously, and so much has been achieved by everyone. I’ve also been impressed by their collegiate nature.

People are really friendly and if you ever have a question, they’re genuinely happy to support you, even if they’re not in your team, which you don’t get in every organisation. I think that’s really quite special. The workplace is very collaborative and responsive.

My colleagues have been really good at helping me to build a diverse portfolio that plays to my strengths. I’m good at being involved across a range of things, and I’ve been supported to do that. So, I have a lot of things on my CV that will help me in the future.

They make the effort to understand what skills you have. My design and community background means that if something related comes up, I’m encouraged to pursue it. Our Assistant Director is extremely good at sharing opportunities around, which helps to set the culture in the wider team. He’s also great at promoting women and people who aren’t necessarily present on stage, to be there.

There is support for progression. There’s a lot of focus on supporting people to develop themselves and their careers, and a dedicated learning and development framework for Housing and Land.

When I came back from maternity leave, I was offered a career coach. It’s very supportive, and I know that my manager and my team will help me pursue the things I want to achieve.

Rickardo Hyatt - Assistant Director, Housing

Rickardo Hyatt

Rickardo has been working in housing for 13 years. After he left university, he joined a private sector graduate scheme, but quickly realised that he wanted to do something with real social impact. Here, he talks about the collaborative, open and flexible working culture at the GLA.  

My colleagues are so innovative, so bright, so intelligent. Because of the constant pipeline of new ideas, I’ve been able to progress, get promoted and move into different roles. Over the last 10 years, I’m pretty sure I’ve worked in every single unit within the directorate. That’s certainly kept it interesting for me.

When I left university in 2004, I did a one-year graduate trainee scheme in the private sector. I thought this was going to be the rest of my life. But I became disillusioned. I realised I wanted to do something with real social impact. But I didn’t know this amazing career was waiting for me, until I applied for my first job in housing.

I’ve been working in the sector for 13 years now. What’s kept me here is the breadth of opportunity, the talented people, and the opportunities for personal development. My natural inclination is to want to learn new things, find new ways of doing things, and be engaged with different perspectives. Working at the GLA certainly allows you that.

First and foremost, having a decent and stable home improves peoples’ life chances. By helping to deliver genuinely affordable homes for Londoners, we’re ensuring there’s a knock-on effect in all areas of their lives.

Our team is great at establishing and maintaining partnerships, at all levels across the housing sector, and in central and local government. This has engendered a level of trust between us and our partners which is reflected by a strong track record of affordable housing delivery in London.

The culture within Housing and Land is one of collaboration, openness and collective responsibility. Open dialogue is valued and colleagues are often given the space to plan their workload. You are given the freedom to use your own initiative to get the job done.

We’re clear with people that learning and development, getting involved in new areas of work, and collaborating with colleagues, is all part of the job and not an add-on. From day one, colleagues are encouraged to learn new approaches, and build strong relationships with our partners and colleagues, across the GLA.

Given the importance of our role, I think people would be surprised by just how flexible we are. I’m a parent, and I’m very busy all the time. But, I’m able to plan my workload around family life. On Mondays and Tuesdays, I do school drop-off and pick-up. Colleagues across the GLA are very considerate about timings of meetings, so you very rarely have something in the diary at 9am or 5pm.

In terms of being a progressive employer, we’re certainly making strides in the right direction. Staff have established networks, including BAME, LGBT, Women and Disability which colleagues are encouraged to join and are given the space to attend events. Given the work we do, it’s very important that staff feel able to bring their whole selves to work and at all levels our workforce reflects the people that we serve.

We were one of the first public sector organisations to publish gender pay gap information before legislation was introduced requiring employers to do so. Since then we’ve  also published our ethnicity pay gap information. While, we’re not quite where we want to be, we’re transparent about it. And we’re working constructively with our staff networks and the Union to improve and diversify the workforce. There’s a lot of work going to improve representation.

We’re also making a conscious effort to make the community a significant part of what we do, listening to real people and what they want. It’s not just about the political apparatus and corporate objectives. I genuinely feel we’re making a real difference.

Stephanie Londono - Programme Officer, Building Safety

Stephanie Londono

Stephanie joined the GLA as a Business Administration Apprentice is now a Programme Officer in the Building Safety team. Here she talks about how the GLA values its apprentices and empowers them to make a real contribution as part of the Homes for Londoners team. She also talks about being part of the GLA’s BAME Staff Network, and how the organisation is working to continue improving diversity and inclusion. 

Building affordable homes has a ripple effect. Children don’t see their parents struggle and they do better at school. Education ties in with skills, skills tie in with better employment opportunities, business and the economy. If we can tackle this issue, we can help Londoners thrive.

I came in as one of 12 Business Administration Apprentices. I found out about the role online and, at first, I thought it was just going to be a standard office job. But my opinions are actually valued, which is amazing and totally unexpected, given that I’m an apprentice. I do feel, wow – I’ve actually contributed to something – and that’s great.

Before I started here, I worked in Retail, so this is my first office experience. It was quite difficult to adjust, but everyone was so accommodating. They would take interest and ask what projects I’d like to get involved in, across the wider directorate. They would invite me to meetings I was interested in and help me make connections. Continually, I’ve been encouraged to ask questions and told, ‘there’s no such thing as a silly question’.

Six of the Business Administration Apprentices went on to become Higher Apprentices, which is a two-year programme.

In fact, a lot of my colleagues started off as apprentices, and now they’re managers. It’s really comforting to know I could go far in this sector.

I’m not saying this for the sake of it: at first, I didn’t know where I was going in life. But since becoming a Programme Officer, I feel I have a whole career ahead of me thanks to the apprenticeship scheme. I had been nurtured to the point where I was able to take the next step which was incredibly important for me to be able to have the confidence to apply for roles within the GLA.

What’s great is that, when I had an interview coming up, my colleagues would approach me and say, ‘put some time in my diary, we’ll go through different types of questions, and how you can turn your experiences into a response’. These are quite senior people, offering their time. It felt like they had invested in me and I owed it to them, as well as myself, to progress.

There are great people in the Homes for Londoners team, and I’m actually really fortunate. The support and encouragement I’ve got here is amazing. We’re all different grades, but it doesn’t feel like that. We’re one big team. And we never lose sight of what we’re here to do.

Our Assistant Director, Rickardo, is the Co-Chair of the GLA’s BAME Staff Network. Especially for me, it’s nice to see that. He’s definitely a great champion for the BAME community, and he’s making real change. We talk about the issues, and how to overcome them, and how to get more BAME individuals into senior roles.

Since the network was established at the GLA, I’ve been able to have conversations with people in other teams and areas. It builds bridges and it’s good to feel there’s light being shed on the issues we face. The GLA is putting those necessary steps in place to help overcome them.

We also bring those discussions into our team meetings, as an agenda item. Diversity and inclusion is a talking point in the office, which is good to know. Even on the intranet, there is often information around LGBT issues which is also great. All of that is boosting the culture within the GLA, and across the Homes for Londoners team.

Things have changed, even since I first joined. We’re becoming more innovative all the time. We’re buying sites and setting the standard for developers. We’re changing the housing market. We’re also going to consultation events and sitting on steering boards with the community and getting their feedback.

I’m getting a great experience. Because we’re not just looking at the statistics, we’re actually hearing people’s voices. I get to go on site visits and see what I and my colleagues have achieved.

To work here, you have to be passionate about making a difference in London. You have to understand how deprivation impacts everything. How, with those financial pressures, some parents can’t afford to pay the rent, and some children go astray. Some even get involved with knife crime.

While there are a lot of issues to address in London, the first step is building a good home. You have to see that, whatever project you’re working on, what you’re doing is all part of the master plan.

Rachael Hickman - Head of Housing Delivery and Compliance

Racheal Hickman

Before joining the GLA, Rachael didn’t have any experience of development her background in housing was focused on energy efficiency retrofitting. Here she talks about how she was able to bring transferable skills to her role, to help ensure the delivery of affordable housing. She also talks about the unique culture at the GLA and the huge breadth of work it covers.

I don’t have a development background, and I my housing background is focused on domestic energy efficiency retrofitting. I got a job of Senior Area Manager in the Housing and Land directorate because of the transferable skills I could bring to the role, along with my ability to learn quickly so I could develop my knowledge of the housing side of things on the job.

My first job was working at Cartier as a PA, but I didn’t like the sales environment. I’d studied Ecology as my degree, so I went to work for a small environmental consultancy. The focus of my work there was predominantly domestic retrofit and energy efficiency in homes, working with local authorities and housing associations. Then I saw an opportunity at the LDA, which became part of the GLA.

After several years, and a couple of different roles in the GLA, I got the job of Senior Area Manager in the North East team, I successfully moved on to my current role two years later: Head of Housing Delivery and Compliance. I'm now responsible for, among other things, the implementation of the Mayor's £736m Land Fund.

The culture at the GLA is unique to other organisations. It was established as a strategic body, but it’s moving more and more to being delivery-focused, as we’re getting an increasing amount of devolved responsibilities from government.

The GLA covers a huge breadth of work including sports, culture, intelligence, environment, housing, skills and European programmes and investment. Depending on the role you end up doing, there’s scope to get involved in a real range of things, and there are always opportunities to move around the GLA, once you’re in.

The culture within Housing and Land is also unique to the GLA. There’s a pretty rare combination of policy, strategy and delivery, and that makes it a really good directorate to work in. I think people would be surprised at what we can and have achieved, and how quickly we can move. We’re adept at dealing with things in an efficient and effective way, and people are willing to look at alternative solutions to get things done.

I admire my team because of their determination and passion. I look forward to coming to work, and a lot of that is to do with the people I work with. It’s a really open and welcoming environment, where people aren’t afraid to speak up and challenge each other, from all different levels.

The GLA has a real culture of flexible working which works well because of the trust that managers place in their staff. As a working mother, it really suits my lifestyle. Both my husband and I are able to work full-time despite having young children as we are both able to work flexibly.

You’re hugely supported in career progression here. There’s a framework for learning and development, and we’re building up an excellent online source of learning resources and information. This is backed up by a learning and development budget and frequent training sessions. There’s also a structured mentoring programme, where you have the opportunity to become either a mentor or a mentee.

Having a diverse workforce is so important at the GLA, because it helps us come up with new ideas, new ways of working and, new ways of delivering affordable homes. It helps provides a fresh perspective on something people might not otherwise have considered.

Our work

Our team has already achieved great change for London, and we’re making a visible impact on hundreds of lives.

Explore our case studies below to find out more about the projects we’re supporting, and discover how we’re helping to transform London for the better.

Kings Crescent Estate - Hackney

Overlooking Clissold Park in Stoke Newington is the Kings Crescent Estate, originally built in 1971. Today, we’re working with Hackney as part of their Building Council Homes for Londoners programme to transform the estate and bring greater benefits to new and current residents alike.

Regeneration of Kings Crescent Estate aims to restore community pride by renovating existing buildings, and creating new structures in the place of unpopular high-rise blocks, which were demolished in the late 1990s. Hackney have led on the regeneration of the estate from day one, and our team have been alongside them, supporting their ambitions and helping to unlock the wider scheme.

Within the 765-homes masterplan, 275 existing properties will be transformed with balconies and winter gardens, and 490 are new build homes. Phase 1 is now complete, and Phase 2 is due to start in March 2020. This will result in hundreds of new affordable homes, improvements to existing homes and new amenities for all to enjoy.

Blackwall Reach - Tower Hamlets

The £500m regeneration project at Blackwall Reach is part of a key partnership between Swan Housing Association, the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and the GLA. The development will deliver over 1,500 new homes in Tower Hamlets of which around half will be affordable for social rent and shared ownership.

The scheme, which will be completed by 2026, also includes new community facilities, commercial units and improved access to Blackwall DLR and local amenities through enhanced public realm.

As part owner of the land, and key funder, the GLA has been critical in unlocking the development and supporting the transformation of this area. The Housing & Land team works closely with both the Borough and developer as key client and partner, working with them on every aspect of the scheme.

Phase 1a of the project has already delivered 98 new affordable homes for people living and working in Tower Hamlets, including leaseholders and tenants from Robin Hood Gardens, enabling them to remain in the local area. This phase also delivered a new regional housing office for Swan; a replacement mosque, an extended local school and The Reach, a fabulous new community facility at Blackwall.

Phase 1b delivers an exclusive collection of 242 market sale and genuinely affordable apartments, all providing spacious living areas and versatile winter gardens. The wider community will benefit from a beautiful courtyard square featuring boutique shops and cafés. Close to Blackwall DLR these homes, the majority of which are private sale, will help cross-subsidise the affordable housing across the project.

Beautifully positioned around a tranquil park and landscaped areas, 268 new homes in Phase 2 will enjoy excellent views and peaceful living next to a revitalised Millennium Green. Innovative design meets traditional architecture at Parkside West, replacing the west block of Robin Hood Gardens with a mix of new social, affordable and private sale homes.

Phase 3 will complete the transformation of the existing Robin Hood Gardens site by constructing over 300 new homes on the eastern half of the park. Overlooking the Millennium Green, these homes will enjoy unparalleled views unlike anywhere else in east London, making its residences, a mixture of social, shared ownership and private homes highly desirable.

Emergency response to help people sleeping rough

Whenever the temperature is expected to fall below zero in any part of London, our team makes sure there are enough emergency beds throughout London so that rough sleepers can escape the cold.

Working with St Mungo’s, the Mayor has also funded additional outreach workers. When Londoners refer a rough sleeper for help using the handy StreetLink app or website, it is these outreach workers who help the person sleeping rough to access help, to both get them in from the bad weather and find a permanent route off the streets. Since the service was launched in 2012, many thousands of people have been helped to find accommodation away from the street.

Abbey Estate - Camden

Abbey Estate was built during the 1960s and was comprised of 278 residential units over two 20-storey, one five-story and one seven-story blocks. The original estate was split across two sites, located on opposite sides of Abbey Road, immediately north of its junction with Belsize Road.

We’re proud to support Camden Council’s ambitious estate regeneration programme, which is co-funded through its 15-year Community Investment Programme (CIP). Work began to regenerate the Abbey estate back in 2010. Overall, there will be 445 homes on the regenerated estate of which 60% will be available for social rent. The recently completed first phase was opened by the Mayor in March and consists of 141 new homes built on the site of a multi-storey car park.

The Mayor has made Affordable Housing Grant available to support the delivery of 66 homes for affordable rent in phase 1. This includes 10 wheelchair units which were funded under the Mayor’s Specialist and Supported Housing Programme.

The transformation also includes the provision of new health and community facilities in phase 1 and 2 which will make more land available for homes in the final phase. A further funding allocation has been approved under the Mayor’s Building Council Homes for Londoners Programme to support the delivery of homes for affordable rent in phase 3.

Watts Grove - Tower Hamlets

Located in Bow Common, near to the Limehouse Cut, the Watts Grove development delivered 148 new homes, 100% of which are genuinely affordable. The project was developed in response to the acute housing crisis in Tower Hamlets, which has some of the longest waiting lists in London for new affordable homes.

Tower Hamlets is committed to tackling this by providing 5,500 new affordable homes for residents to rent. Watts Grove is one of a series of projects that is helping to solve this crisis.

Our team supported the development of Watts Grove with £6.8m of affordable housing grant, which helped unlock the scheme. Fifty percent of the new homes are let on social rents (traditional rent levels for council homes), and 50% are let on Tower Hamlets Living Rents, therefore 100% affordable. Ten percent of the units are accessible by wheelchair, and have been individually adapted to suit the needs of the residents.

Our team have worked closely with the Borough throughout the scheme, and across their wider Council house building programme to help support and fund their developments, and unlock new genuinely affordable homes for residents of Tower Hamlets.

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