for Masonic housing
The Masonic Charitable Housing (MCH)
is a small Industrial and Provident Society (formerly known as the Masonic Housing Association), which was formed a little over 25 years ago to operate schemes of Category 2 Sheltered Retirement Housing.
There are five schemes at present, situated at Prebendal Close (Buckinghamshire), Palmer Court (Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire), Hamilton Court (Essex), Reading Court (Warwickshire) and Wilson Keys Court (Staffordshire).
MCH is having to face up to certain factors which may seriously affect its future. The MW the Pro Grand Master has asked me, as chairman, to explain the position
for the better understanding of the Craft.
Following the Housing Act 1974, the Housing Corporation was established to encourage, support and assist to finance
and regulate social housing schemes.
The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI) wished to be associated with this initiative, but regulations precluded the Housing Corporation from supporting existing charities. Hence, the Masonic Housing Association was formed as an independent body, but alongside the RMBI.
As an Industrial and Provident Society it was not a charity per se, but had charitable status for Inland Revenue purposes. In round figures, the investment in the five schemes amounted to £6m in land and buildings. This has been financed as to £4.5m (75%)
by Social Housing Grants from the Housing Corporation, £600k (14%) by Masonic donations and the balance by loans from
the Housing Corporation, which have
since been repaid out of operating surpluses.
The Social Housing Grants are repayable
in certain circumstances, such as a sale of
the underlying property.
In its 25 years of life, MCH has operated successfully and has retirement schemes of which it can be very proud. The properties are in good order and maintained to a
The envy of other housing schemes is such that MCH schemes are each supported by a local House Committee comprising Freemasons and their ladies, who add enormously to the comfort of our nearly
200 residents. Not only do they manage each scheme on a local basis, but they organise social events and raise funds to provide extras in the schemes for the pleasure of the residents.
The Housing Corporation would not allow MCH to restrict its residents to those qualified through Freemasonry, and at present well under half the residents have had no previous connection with the Craft.
That is a splendid way in which the Craft reaches out into a community to provide benefits to non-Masons. In that respect it differs from the RMBI, which is bound
by its Constitution to support only persons qualified through a Masonic connection. It follows, therefore, that MCH and the RMBI cannot operate as a single organisation.
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