Our original almshouses in Erdington.
The Sir Josiah Mason Trust has been providing almshousing since 1858, 10 years before the Trust was formed as a charity. Our original almshouses were in Erdington and provided a home for 30 ‘aged women’ and 20 orphan girls.
Almshouses have been an integral part of the housing provision for people ‘in need’ in the United Kingdom since the 10th century. However, today, many people still don’t know what almshouses are. Almshouses enable people (typically older people who can no longer work to earn enough to pay rent) to live in a particular geographical area. They are often targeted at those in need and from certain forms of previous employment, or their widows, and are generally maintained by a charity or the trustees of a bequest. The Charity Commission is the regulator for almshouse charities and the Almshouse Association (www.almshouses.org) represents thousands of Almshouse charities in the UK.
Almshouses remain a valuable and thriving form of affordable housing to people in need in the 21st century, promoting independence and togetherness and offering a level of support often not found in other forms of social housing. There are also a number of other differences between almshouses and other social housing. The people living in almshouses are ‘residents’ as opposed to ‘tenants’ and they will pay a weekly maintenance contribution which is similar to rent but different in law.
The housing provided by Sir Josiah Mason Trust are almshouses and we continue to operate as an almshouse charity. We have never restricted who we provide almshousing to with regards to occupation or local connections and we apply a broad definition of ‘in need’. Whilst the majority of people living in our accommodation are of ‘limited’ financial means, we recognise that some people may have wider needs that can be met by the Trust and therefore, we do welcome people who self-fund their accommodation. Our current referral criteria has an age restriction and we can only welcome applications from those aged 55 plus.