Housing 21’s roots lie with the Royal British Legion (RBL), which in 1921 began to house disabled ex-servicemen and widows and, later, older ex-servicemen and women.
In the late 1950s, Mr Cristos Galanos, a wealthy Greek merchant, left a third of his estate to RBL, which led to the construction of Galanos House to provide additional accommodation. Demand was high and in 1964 the RBL’s Benevolent Department decided a Housing Association would be the answer. The Royal British Legion Housing Association started work on its first housing scheme the following year.
Ralph Grimshaw Court was completed at Westgate-on-Sea in Margate in 1967, and was opened by the Minister of Housing, the Rt. Hon. Anthony Greenwood MP. By 1976, the housing association had completed its 100th court, with a further 100 completed over the following three years. By 1983, it was responsible for 10,000 homes.
In 1992, the housing association split from the RBL, creating Housing 21. At this point, waiting lists were opened to all older people, whether they had a service background or not. Two years later, our first housing with care scheme, Bishopsfield in Peterborough, opened. The care service continued to develop, with the appointment of a Director of Community Care in 1995, and the employment of 200 care staff across 1995/96, delivering more than 4,000 hours of care per week. By 1999, Housing 21 was providing in the region of 15,000 care hours per week across the country.
In 2014, our 50th anniversary, we changed the name to Housing & Care 21 to better reflect what we offered, which included home care. In 2017 the decision was taken to sell our home care offer as local authority budget constraints meant that we could not offer the high quality of service which our customers deserved.
In 2019, the decision was taken to revert back to Housing 21. This was based on consistent feedback from residents and other stakeholders – including staff. Care will still be an important part of our Extra Care Living service, but that doesn’t require it to be referred to in our name.
We are committed to providing a modern and forward-looking 21st century service, striving for continuous improvement and innovation in all that we do. We now provide over 38,000 hours of care each week and manage around 20,000 Retirement and Extra Care Living apartments.