The boards of Helm and Fold Housing Associations have approved proposals in principle to create a new association through merger. The proposal is still subject to final approval in September, following completion of all the necessary checks.It is not expected that the new organisation will be in place until early 2017, and over the next few months staff will engage with tenants, and other key stakeholders, to discuss and explain the proposals in detail. We are excited by the opportunity merger brings. The new organisation will have the ability and the resources to improve core services for tenants, to increase the supply of new homes for those in housing need, and to increase investment in our local communities. Speaking following the decision by the Helm Board, Liz Cuddy (Chair) said:The creation of a new single housing association means we can share expertise and deliver improved and more efficient customer services to our existing tenants. It also means we can increase our investment in local communities and contribute to the Housing Plus agenda. In times of record levels of housing need a new and financially stronger provider will be better placed to build more homes, right across Northern Ireland. We look forward to working with colleagues at Fold in the coming weeks and months to bring this about.Fold Chair Diana Fitzsimons said: Fold and Helm Housing Associations have between them 80 years of expertise in providing excellent housing, care and support. We are both values driven providers, seeking value for money for all our service users and funders. Both boards have considered the impact of key challenges such as Welfare Reform, both on our tenants and our businesses. We feel strongly that this collaboration leaves us much better placed to support our tenants, invest in new systems and technology and grow and expand our service offering. In the meantime, from a tenants perspective, nothing will change in terms of paying rent, reporting repairs or in any other service provided by Helm. These will continue as normal. We shall keep you advised as these proposals develop. '