But as more and more ALMOs complete the decent homes programmes they were conceived for, money matters are proving as instrumental in the end as they were in the beginning.
As our ALMO special reveals, with most of their £4 billion pot spent, ALMOs are discovering they cannot afford to remain as they are. Never mind that the Audit Commission has top-rated five times as many ALMOs as it has housing associations.
A few ALMOs have yet to declare their intentions. But for some that have, staying in the black means a return to council management or transfer to a housing association.
At least one ALMO aims to secure its future by diversifying service provision. Whether this bold answer to the cash question can keep the sector alive remains to be seen.