My SO Home: No. 21

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Does the housing sector have a ‘messiah complex’? Shared owner, Ben Jenkins, explains why he’s fed up with the missionary position…

So what exactly is a ‘messiah complex’?

A “messiah complex” is a term used to describe people who believe that they are (or are set to be) a saviour.  They believe that they are responsible and destined to help others. It’s not a clinical term, or a diagnosable disorder, and it seldom refers to organisations. Yet within the housing sector there is an abundance of evidence to support this notion.

Evidence of the messiah complex in the housing sector

Let’s not underestimate that – when used correctly – this trait can be hugely beneficial to those who need saving. However, in relation to housing sector practices, it’s closer aligned to a grandiose self-image.

The ‘experts in the field’ theme is created, in part, to show just how much they do for others. After all, they build much needed homes, support people in finding accommodation, and in turn create thriving communities. They believe that they deserve our respect and loyalty. They may even argue that they are beyond reproach.

Two pairs of feet in a bed

With this mindset, however, the only position left for their residents to assume is…

The missionary position

When being saved we are supposed to be grateful. But problems arise when their position is exploited.   

As a GreenSquareAccord resident I’m part of a shared ownership scheme, as are many of my neighbours. The shared ownership scheme allows buyers to purchase a share of a property; we pay a mortgage on the share we own, and a below-market-value rent on the remainder.  This government-led initiative has enabled many of us to grab a foothold on the property ladder.  It has also enabled many housing associations to build and manage new housing stock.

I (like many others) pay a service charge to GreenSquareAccord. As such I expect a return on my investment. I pay them to manage this building, including ground maintenance, fire alarms, cleaning services, and so on. And, as a customer, I expect my housing association to provide me with the service that I pay for.

When I do not receive this service, and when I see the value of the building reducing due to poor upkeep, I am less likely to want to assume the position of grateful tenant.

The prevailing attitude is that we must still be grateful rather than expecting too much

Complaints are rarely handled fully, but are often treated in an uncooperative manner. Timeframes are seldom honoured. Staff show disdain to their customers at meetings. All in all, service is woefully lacking.

  • If you were to attend a meeting with a client, would you not first ensure that you were able to cover the items that you had placed upon your own agenda?
  • If your client spoke of their dissatisfaction of the service you were providing, would you endeavour to seek resolution and offer reasons? Or would you tell your client that you disagreed with them? Would you tell them: “that’s just your opinion”?
  • If your client raised issues where you had fallen below your level of contractual agreement would you demonstrate the documented learnings you had taken? Or would you simply tell them that you weredoing your best”?
  • If you were unable to answer your client’s questions, would you provide a timeframe for your response and ensure you responded as agreed? Or would you say “we are not going to BS you, we don’t know the answers but we will try and come back to you when we do”?

This toxic relationship needs to change. If GreenSquareAccord want us to resume the missionary position, we are going to need a whole lot of lovin’ and kissin’ first!

A bunch of flowers

This is an abbreviated version of a feature previously published by Ben. You can find the full feature here.

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