GHA Boss ‘Will Deliver 21st Century Housing’

The new boss of Scotland’s biggest landlord has vowed to deliver 21st century housing to the people of Glasgow. Taroub Zahran said she wants to put Glasgow Housing Association at the centre of the city’s ambitious regeneration plans – and create strong, sustainable communities.

Speaking to the Evening Times in her first interview since being appointed chief executive just more than a week ago, she promised to reverse the “build and demolish” trend that has previously hampered Glasgow’s social housing progress and speed up the creation of 3000 new homes.

She said it would be possible to move towards smaller, community-owned housing associations – Second Stage Transfer – if that was what tenants wanted and the figures added up. But she hinted that other options to community ownership were being explored.

The 45-year-old mother-of-two, who has been acting chief since Michael Lennon quit the post in February, said: “GHA is a young organisation but it has made important progress thanks to a massive investment programme.

“Let’s improve on that progress and build for the future.” She added: “GHA tenants and homeowners have higher expectations than ever before.”It’s not rocket science – we need to make sure we deliver by managing homes effectively. We need to regenerate entire communities and realise good housing doesn’t just mean houses. Glasgow is a very exciting city and the opportunities for housing are also exciting – I want GHA to be involved at every level.”

Insiders say Ms Zahran, who grew up in Belfast, is well respected among GHA staff and will be a different type of leader to Mr Lennon, who threw in the towel after three years to return to Australia. She’s also earning around £60,000 less than Mr Lennon, who pulled in a £200,000 salary.

The not-for-profit landlord manages around 80,000 homes for tenants and 25,000 for owner-occupiers. Ms Zahran insists she’s ready to face the challenges ahead and over the next three years, she’ll be in charge of a £420million budget.

She said her immediate priorities included completing the city-wide investment programme that has so far seen work carried out on thousands of homes and building better relationships with tenants and homeowners. She also wants to focus on tackling anti-social behaviour, improving local environments, and community facilities and enabling residents to contribute.

And she said every improvement – no matter how small – was crucial. She added: “I want to see the full spectrum of regeneration take place, from making the environment better for kids to big projects such as those we hope will make a difference in areas such as Toryglen, Sighthill, Maryhill, Springburn and Possilpark.

“But we also need to make sure that we deliver our services and improvements in an effective, family-friendly, courteous way.” Ms Zahran also vowed not to repeat past mistakes. She said: “Glasgow has been caught up in a cycle of build and demolish. We need to change the way we build
our communities so that they have a long-term future.”