Bangla Housing Association is gearing up to add 13 homes to its portfolio after securing a £1.4m loan from ethical lender Unity Trust Bank.
Based in Hackney, east London, Bangla currently owns 95 of the 286 homes it manages in the London boroughs of Hackney, Islington, and Waltham Forest.
The housing provider says it aims to purchase as many of the homes it manages as possible to help fund its support services.
Commenting on the new loan, Bashir Uddin, chief executive of Bangla, said: “We offer advice on benefits and housing, workshops on healthy living, and classes for women to improve their language skills.
“We’ve banked with Unity Trust Bank for eight years and borrowed £8.4m during that time to purchase some of the properties that we manage on behalf of other landlords.
“The more properties we own, the more revenue we can generate for these services.
“We have an excellent relationship with Unity Trust Bank. The team are very approachable, friendly and flexible, and understand our needs.”
Followng the first wave of the pandemic, Uddin set up the Bangla COVID-19 Advice Project, which aimed to tackle COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on the Bangladeshi community.
The project received a £50,000 grant from the National Lottery Community Fund, as well as support from BME London Landlords, of which Bangla is a member.
Uddin said: “I felt there was a gap in the information being given to our community and the take-up of that advice. There was also a lot of negative publicity about the vaccine.
“With two full-time staff and 30 volunteers, we have encouraged our residents and the community to adhere to government guidelines, with the production of leaflets, posters, and videos in Bengali.”
The Bangla COVID-19 Advice Project, which received national meida coverage, ended in March. Bangla is now applying for additional funding to extend the scheme and launch a COVID-19 recovery project.
Uddin said: “The work we’re doing is having an impact but there is still a lot more to do. The after-effects of the pandemic include mental health issues, loss of income, and bereaved families. We need to help people deal with the legacy of COVID.”
Ian Heesom, relationship manager at Unity Trust Bank, said: “We understand the importance of the work Bangla does in the local community, and we’re proud to support its acquisition of more affordable housing.
“The pandemic has had a huge impact on the Bangladeshi and BAME communities, and Bangla has made a real difference to people living in the east London area.”
Bangla Housing Association was established in 1991 to support Hackney’s Bangladeshi community.
Image: Bashir Uddin, chief executive, Bangla Housing Association
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