GERALDINE Howley is stepping down this month after almost two decades at the helm of Keighley social housing group Incommunities.

She took over the top job at the time of the stock transfer of more than 26,000 homes from Bradford Council in 2003 – and has since overseen a series of business transformations.

Mrs Howley led the rebranding of what was formerly Bradford Community Housing Trust to Incommunities, in conjunction with a major governance review and implementation of a new structure which marked the beginning of the organisation’s modernisation.

The ‘Decent Homes Standard’ was achieved in 2010, since when Mrs Howley – as group chief executive – has overseen multi-million pound improvements to housing stock.

She has also spearheaded the growth of Incommunities beyond the Bradford district through mergers, stock acquisitions and new developments.

Mrs Howley has overseen the delivery of over 1,100 new affordable homes by the group – which now has properties in West, South and North Yorkshire.

And latterly, she has led the association’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Her career began as a temporary housing receptionist with Bradford Council in the late 1970s, before she became a housing officer covering the Manchester Road blocks.

After gaining experience across various fields, Mrs Howley was eventually appointed the local authority’s director of housing.

“Looking back it’s sometimes been a steep learning curve – from my first steps as a housing officer to managing one of the biggest stock transfers of that time,” she said.

“As its 18th birthday approaches I feel very proud to have played my part in the growth of Incommunities and been supported by such a great executive team, board and skilled and dedicated colleagues. It’s been an amazing journey.

“I’ve loved my time at Incommunities – and delivering our vision of improving people’s lives has always been my guiding principle. I am leaving the organisation in great shape and wish my successor – Rachael Dennis – and everyone the very best for the future. Now I am excited about the next stage in my career.”

Mrs Howley – who received the OBE for her services – will continue chairing the Chartered Institute of Housing governing board and will join MORhomes as a non-executive director.