Stephen Wasserman, founder and chief executive officer at the National Housing Group, shares insights into his journey to National Housing Group, his overall and day-to-day responsibilities, and what he thinks the future holds.
What were your roles before joining National Housing Group and what were you doing?
Prior to founding National Housing Group, I worked for a lending company in the property industry. During my time at that company I was able to learn about all areas of the property market. I saw that social housing was an area that was seriously underfunded and under-represented.
In those 14 years we lent on a range of properties including social housing stock and I was able to observe that the quality of social housing was, at times, substandard. It was difficult to see, knowing that the most vulnerable of society, who need safe and affordable housing, were being provided with housing that was not comparable to the private market.
Because of this, when I left the company in 2019 I wanted to set up the National Housing Group. I knew social housing could be done better. My aim was to develop a business that developed properties to a high quality that people would be proud to call their home. So far we have provided housing to over 100 previously homeless or vulnerable individuals. With every new property we also learn and develop ourselves, taking the lessons learned and applying them going forward.
What is your role at National Housing Group and what are your responsibilities?
My main role as the CEO is to have oversight on all of National Housing Group’s business operations.
This involves working closely with the National Housing Group team to source suitable properties for development. I work with Jonathan Alexander, (director of National Housing Group) to develop these projects in the most sustainable, but realistic, way possible. I spend time looking at ways we can expand through strategic partnerships with charities, local housing authorities, and other stakeholders so that they and the vulnerable people they work with can benefit from the work we do. I am also constantly reviewing the feedback we receive from residents to use as reference for the properties we develop in the future, ensuring we are designing them to the best quality possible.
Name three tasks you have to do every day as part of your role?
Although no two days are the same, there are some responsibilities I take on every day. This includes looking for acquisitions and finding new properties. I also oversee existing construction projects, making sure everything is on track, as well as general problem solving which comes in different shapes and forms each day.
What’s the best thing about working at National Housing Group?
The best thing about working at National Housing Group is that we genuinely get to help people and make a difference. We know our work is of high quality, and that allows people to be house proud. One previously homeless tenant was so excited that he could actually invite his girlfriend over and have a space that was his own. We may be a private commercial company but we are still doing good in the world and making an impact.
How do you relax outside the office?
I spend a lot of my time with my children, family and friends. I also enjoy football – both watching and playing, going to the gym, skiing, and general travel.
What does the future hold for National Housing Group?
I think our future will hold more of the same, but will grow to be bigger and better. We want to do as much as we can to provide the best quality, and making our stock the same level of quality as the private market is a goal. I also think we can further develop our Green Homes Initiative from building sustainably and with energy efficient products to building full eco-homes. Whilst the benefit to the environment is something we champion, the main driver of our green homes initiative is to reduce the cost of running the property, a burden felt by many in this current climate, especially those on low income.