Margaret and Rod Quinn are the first to move back into their refurbished semi after housing chiefs set aside £38million for a modernisation programme which will save hundreds of homes in Carntyne’s Wingets scheme.
The move has set the scene for the next five years when workmen will completely renovate 600 tenants’ homes and up to 300 belonging to owner-occupiers.
It’s not everyday a government minister rings your doorbell but Housing and Communities Minister Alex Neil came calling when retired school janitor Margaret, 63, and her husband collected the keys to their “new” home in Abbeyhill Street.
The couple had been living in temporary accommodation since before Christmas as workmen carried out extensive structural repairs including fitting a new roof, central heating, new kitchen and bathroom. Electricians also rewired the house.
Margaret said: “We’re very excited about living here. The house is fantastic, so warm and so well soundproofed too. The neighbours are really nice and have made us feel welcome already. There’s such a buzz about the area – we’ve even invited people passing in the street to come in and look.”
The couple and their neighbours have been at the centre of a housing battle which began in the 80s when it was discovered homes in the Wingets – semi- detached and four in a block – were deemed unsafe because of structural defects.
But locals refused to move and forced Glasgow Housing Association to come up with £38m of improvements which will guarantee each upgraded home a 60 year life span.
Pensioner Agnes Mackie, 89, was another of the group of 21 tenants to be decanted late last year. She’s due to return home shortly.
Agnes said: “GHA staff have been great during the decant – they couldn’t have done any more for me.
“They did everything – packed and unpacked, re-directed my mail, even took my curtains down for me. It really was excellent.
“I’ve found such kindness here. I’ll be moving back in the next few weeks and I’m really excited.”
A total of 600 tenants will have their homes repaired and modernised over the next five years with Mr Neil commenting: “GHA has invested heavily in refurbishing these houses and ensured a smooth transition for tenants moving back.”
But Anne Ayres, who chairs the Carntyne Residents Association, says dozens of owner-occupiers have been left in limbo because the private sector fund the upgrade of their homes.
She said: “GHA are using taxpayers money to tackle the homes of tenants. But owner occupiers are taxpayers too. GHA are trying to access government grants for the owners but we have not been updated and feel as though we’re being left behind.”
GHA say homeowners who have hired the organisation as factor will be able to apply for grants for the work and have put in place extended repayments terms of up to five years.
Owners will also be offered decant properties and help with removals if they source funding for the improvements.
A spokesman added: “We are refurbishing our tenants’ homes while we do everything we can to help owners take part in the project.
“GHA is looking at options for owners not eligible for grants, including the possibility of a shared equity scheme. We are also putting owners in touch with independent financial advisors, credit unions, and assisting them in dealing with commercial lenders.”