Ingrid Downey and Alison Cadman celebrate with Baklava. As you do.
Dwell became operational in 2013 following the merger of Wellington Housing Trust and Mahora House Incorporated and is a registered CHP, as well as a charitable trust. They provide affordable, quality housing for people in need or on a low income, as well as home ownership options through their shared home ownership programme.
The main focus for Ingrid’s internship was to focus on assisting Dwell’s asset management systems and strategies, especially looking at future decisions and investments, which is critical given Dwell’s modest asset base. The objectives of Ingrid’s function were to:
·Review Dwell’s asset management policies, guides and decision making documents, in order to identify opportunities for improvement/strengthening and maximizing new funding prospects.
·Develop an overarching asset management strategy, bringing together Dwell’s existing guidance documents to align and enhance for the benefit of the portfolio and current settings.
·Identify resources/strategies to continue the asset management work once the internship ends
With the timing of the internship, it provided Ingrid with the opportunity of being heavily involved with Dwell’s current development of 14 social housing units in Kilbirnie. Due to the agile nature of Dwell, she gained first hand experience with the project, especially around the consent process, finance approval, dealing with funding partners and of course working with the developers/building contractors. Ingrid acknowledges that this was both an interesting and often tense experience, but gained significant learnings from Dwell’s Chief Executive, Alison Cadman.
Ingrid points out that any secondment opportunity should provide learnings for both the host and home organisations, as well as for the individual. It also helps build the relationship between the two home and host organisations. She experienced first hand, the difference between working for a community based agency, where funding is very challenging and to being a HNZ staff member. She notes that “what CHPs lack for in certainty and resources, they more than make up for in passion, professionalism and purpose. Experiencing a work environment with a different mix of challenges and opportunities, whilst being committed to the same purpose of housing those in need, is refreshing. If you get the opportunity to be seconded to the likes of a CHP – give it a go!”
The six month internship has now concluded but the opportunity has resulted in an unexpected outcome for Ingrid – she is now a full time staff member at Dwell Housing Trust! A research opportunity has arisen through the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities branch of the National Science Challenges and it has resulted in a project using Dwell homes as part of the research, and therefore creating a role for Ingrid. The project will be focussing on how to make an existing property more suitable for elderly, low income customers, as well as looking at the existing and future developments Dwell have planned.
Whilst Ingrid’s internship experience will not be able to be directly applied back to HNZ, the relationship between Dwell and HNZ has been significantly strengthened and both organisations look forward to the future where they can hopefully work together collaboratively on projects.
Ingrid’s nine years of employment at HNZ may now be over, but the difference the six month internship has made on her career has been significant. She is now looking forward to continuing her work in social/public housing, but from a very different perspective and position.