WHO ARE ZEBRA?
Zebra Housing Association is a specialist “not for profit” housing association which provides accommodation and support services to international students and their dependents. Zebra is a Registered Provider, and an Industrial and Provident Society with charitable rules, registered with the Financial Conduct Authority. The Association’s work is governed by a wide range of legislation, and we are regulated by the Homes and Communities Agency.
The Association has over fifty years of experience in this specialized area, and offers decent, value for money accommodation and responsive support to its tenants. Staff are based at head office, which is located within one of Zebra’s five, central London locations, all of which are within easy walking distance of public transport facilities and local amenities. Zebra’s aim is to provide a quiet and safe environment for residents and their families, whilst they are staying in London. The Association has 133 flats, employs eleven staff, and provides accommodation to 250 people with an annual turnover in excess of £1,500,000.
We currently have a waiting list of over 500 applicants. We know that this is real demand, because we update the waiting list regularly to ensure that every applicant is “live”. We don’t need to advertise our services. Our residents (through word of mouth), and the universities with whom we work, do this for us. All applicants apply on line through our website.
Originally established in 1958 to provide housing for students from the Commonwealth (and in particular Africa), who were studying at prestigious London universities, we now house students from every continent. We have well established relationships with a core of universities.
We are governed by a voluntary and unpaid Board who determine our strategy. The Board is made up of people with a variety of different skills and experience, including education, corporate finance, housing development, business, law, international development, and architecture. Two Board members were formerly residents.
Day to day management is carried out by a small group of paid staff led by a Chief Executive. We employ our own maintenance team for all general responsive maintenance.
90% of our residents are studying at Phd or Masters level, and we serve students from all of the major London educational institutions, including the University of London (King’s College, London Business School, LSE, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Royal Academy of Music, Royal Holloway, SOAS, University College), Imperial College, the Royal College of Art, the Royal College of Music, City University,Westminster University,Westminster University and the University of the Arts.
All of our resident students are overseas nationals, and many have partners and children. Students in these circumstances are generally poorly provided for in the student housing market, and we have considerable experience in this area.
We are particularly keen to offer housing and support to students and their dependents from developing countries, who often suffer most from financial hardship whilst studying abroad.
There are a number of things that are unusual about Zebra:
• We re-invest all our profits in our buildings.
• We only house international students, most of who are studying at doctorate & Masters level, on student tenancies.
• We allow students to stay in their accommodation until they have completed their studies and this can be between 1 and 5 years.
• Many Postgraduate students don’t have a fixed term time, and so we have tenancies starting, and ending, throughout the year.
• Many of our residents are mature students, and so bring their partners or spouses, and children, with them to the UK. Every year a number of children are born to our residents while they are in London. We have had children of former residents become tenants themselves.
• We are very conscious that studying in a foreign capital can be isolating and stressful. Students come to the UK both to study, and to understand and enjoy, British culture. In response to these diverse needs, we run a number of programmes to support students, and to help them enjoy, appreciate and participate in British cultural and intellectual life. We call this our social programme. We hope that when our residents return to their homeland they have a much greater appreciation of the UK.
• We do not provide social housing.
We know that being a student in a foreign country is difficult. Residents are studying at a very high level, and often in a foreign language. They are sometimes isolated from family and friends and living in a foreign culture. We want to provide a safe and value for money environment for our residents, to help them settle in and, if they have a family, to help the family settle in too. We also want to enable a sense of connection to the UK and international collegiality amongst those educated at the highest level.
ZEBRA’S BOARD & STAFF
The strategic management of the Association is the remit of a small voluntary board, which brings an array of talents to the organisation. Our Chair is an established academic, and our Board members bring skills in housing and commercial development and architecture risk management, business management, the law, finance, information technology and international development. Two of our Board members are former student residents of the Association. Our staff are highly motivated, and offer a wealth of experience gained with the Association and other organisations, including universities, charities, housing providers and public bodies.
Zebra employs its own maintenance team, who provide a friendly and efficient reactive maintenance service.