DAMHA was created by the donation of land, materials and services from coal owners, miners and other charitable causes and people. Its assets are held for the benefit of residents and managed by voluntary Trustees as an Unincorporated Charity, registered with the Charity Commission.
Almshouses are dwellings provided by a benefactor in perpetuity for people in need and administered by a body of local, voluntary trustees. Most almshouses have been endowed for older people living in a specified geographical area or connected with a particular trade. They have existed in the United Kingdom for over 1000 years, the first recorded almshouse being in York in the tenth century. Early almshouses were called Hospitals, in the sense of providing hospitality and shelter, and often had ecclesiastical connections. After the dissolution of the monasteries, many almshouses were endowed by city Livery Companies, town Mayors and landowners for local people or those of a particular trade. In the nineteenth century many industrialists and employees founded almshouse charities for their retired workers, and Durham Aged Mineworkers’ Homes (now the largest Almshouses charity in the United Kingdom) was founded in this way. The tradition has continued down the centuries so that now there are about 2000 almshouse charities providing some 30,000 homes in all parts of the country.
Housing Associations, like DAMHA, provide affordable housing and services to meet local needs. There are over 2,000 associations in England, with around 1.5 million homes. We work closely with local authorities and others to house people in need, build new homes for rent and for shared ownership, we contribute to community regeneration, as well as providing a range of services that make a positive difference to the communities where we work.
The last mine to close in our area was Wearmouth Colliery in 1993. The Association however had been considering such an eventuality almost 10 years earlier, and decided that whilst retired miners were the primary client group, there was a need to positively welcome applicants from the broader community. Today there are over 2000 applicants (double that in 1993) for over 1600 homes, and this clearly demonstrates a high demand for continued services.
A Registered Social Landlord, or Registered Provider, is a technical term for social landlords that are registered with the Homes and Communities Agency – most are housing associations, but there are also trusts, co-operatives and companies. This means that organisations such as DAMHA have to comply with particular building and management standards.
If you are a DAMHA resident you do not qualify to buy your home under the Right to Buy or Right to Acquire legislation. DAMHA has declared its intention to sell homes in some locations. Residents of those homes will have been informed directly by the Association and may purchase their home at the full market valuation.