History

Alex Moira and Edward Heath opening Moira Close, Habinteg's first housing scheme

Habinteg was founded in 1970 by leading figures from the Spastics Society (now known as Scope). From the start, our objective was to provide homes for disabled people that were integrated into mainstream housing schemes. Hence our name, which comes from the Latin phrase habitus integrans, or ‘integrated housing’.  

Black and white image of a disabled couple in their living room in the 1970s

In 1973, the first Habinteg tenants moved into our first accessible housing scheme, Moira Close in Haringey, with Prime Minister Edward Heath performing the opening ceremony. Ahead of its time in many ways, it provided a model for inclusive housing and gave disabled people a completely new opportunity within social housing.  

By 1979, Habinteg had established itself as the leader in its field, with housing schemes across England, from Kent to Middlesbrough and from Peterborough to Liverpool.

Within six years, Habinteg had doubled in size. It completed more than 800 new homes during the 1980s, as it loosened its links with the Spastics Society and became a truly independent housing association.

Another 670 homes were completed in the 1990s, including 172 built for wheelchair users. In 1991, Bert Massie, a Habinteg tenant who was later to chair the Disability Rights Commission, became the first disabled member of our management committee.

Mike Donnelly and Bert Massie campaigning for Lifetime Homes outside the Houses of ParliamentAnother important step during the 1990s was our development of the Lifetime Homes standard - the idea that newly built dwellings should be designed to be easily adaptable for both disabled and non-disabled people to live in them.

Michael Holyer and Bert Massie open Habinteg's new office on Red Lion Court

Today, Habinteg is established across England with a scheme in Wales as well as sister associations in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. During 2000, it completed its 2000th home. We now have 2,120 accessible homes of which 530 were built specifically for wheelchair users. All our properties built from the 1990s onwards are Lifetime Homes.

In September 2006, Baroness Chapman of Leeds was appointed Chair of Habinteg's Board of Management. A longstanding Habinteg tenant, disability campaigner and People's Peer, she served as an inspirational leader until her death in September 2009. 

Known as 'Nicky' to her friends and colleagues at Habinteg, Nicky's physical difference was as hard to ignore as her outspoken views.  Nicky openly used her body image to her advantage in her work, challenging perceptions about difference and fighting for equality. With her naturally persuasive wit and passion, Nicky championed social inclusion, accessible design, independent living and services that suit people whatever their needs.

Nicky Chapman in a Habinteg property

As Nicky has demonstrated by her own life, and through her determined engagement on these issues, independent living is possible for almost everyone and householders should no longer have to put up with homes and services that do not support their right to independence.

On 1st March 2010, Livability Housing (LH) transferred into Habinteg Housing Association. The transfer of engagements followed the selection of Habinteg as preferred partner by the Livability Housing Board of Management on 16th May 2009. We now provide homes and services to over 3,400 households, of which 1200 homes are designed specifically for wheelchair users.

In 2012, Habinteg welcomed accessible environment specialists, the Centre for Accessible Environments (CAE), as a wholly owned subsidiary. This cements a long working relationship and strengthens Habinteg's inclusive design offer. CAE, a registered charity, will remain a disctinct organisation with its own board and business plan. You can find out more in our press release.
 

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