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A day in the life of a Housing Officer

Farah Ebrahem is responsible for management and upkeep of all the tenanted properties on the estate (comprising over 1,000 residents). It is her job to ensure that estate life runs smoothly and that it is a safe, clean and well maintained environment for all residents to enjoy.

Here & Now talks to Farah about her career choice and her experiences and responsibilities at Wornington Green.

How did you get into housing?

After graduating from university, I gained an internship with Andrew Dismore MP which required me to undertake a lot of research into housing issues.

What attracted you to a career in housing?

I had always wanted to do something rewarding and satisfying with ‘hands-on’ involvement in the local community. Housing is a good career for doing this and Wornington Green in particular, has given me plenty of ‘hands-on’ experience.

How did you end up working on Wornington Green?

I first joined Catalyst Housing on a short-term contract working in customer services, which was an invaluable experience working on the front lines and dealing with enquiries on a daily basis. I later applied for a job as a temporary Housing Officer and was lucky enough to be taken on permanently shortly after, at which point I was given responsibility for a small patch of homes on Wornington Green as well as street properties. I now manage Wornington Green in its entirety.

What are your areas of responsibility?

Estate inspections: checking throughout the estate to make sure all communal areas (walkways, lifts, security doors etc) are properly maintained and clean from graffiti/ litter etc.

Rent & arrears management: making sure that rent is collected on time and we are able to help residents who may have run into financial difficulties.

Managing contracts: ensuring that no sub-letting is taking place on site and that residents are adhering to the terms & conditions of their tenancy agreements. There is quite a legal side to this job and it requires up-to-date knowledge of the law and the ability to speak knowledgeably to solicitors on a regular basis.

Managing anti social behaviour: restricting anti social behaviour and preventing things like fly tipping, noise pollution and harassment.

Resident involvement: getting to know residents and engaging with them on a personal level. As part of this role, I host a weekly surgery (Wednesdays from 1.00pm-5.00pm) which residents can drop into without an appointment to discuss any concerns or queries.

What are the best things about this job?

Generally, it is the number of people you meet. If you want to do community based work, this is a good way to do it. That is even more true of my role as we are a relatively small Housing Association and therefore as Housing Officers we get involved in a wider variety of tasks.

And the worst?

Not always being able to solve a problem immediately. We do our best to help people as quickly as we can, but it is not always within our means or control. For example, if a family needs a bigger home and we don’t have one available, we can’t always deliver an instant solution. Some problems just take a little time to solve.

What does a Housing Officer need?

First and foremost, excellent project management skills and the ability to juggle a variety of tasks within a deadline. Over and above this, it’s down to communication skills and the ability to interact with people. With such a diverse community here, I need to be able to adapt my methods of communication accordingly and always remain calm under pressure.