What was that all about?
Last month this magazine was singing the praises of social housing
providers for the wonderful outreach work they do in bringing together communities and making the world a better place for their tenants, then the next minute those very same communities are the focus of public outrage for housing the people responsible for the worst episodes of rioting and looting since the darks days of the 1980s.
While there is little doubt that social housing tenants were involved in some of the criminal activities of the last few weeks, is it not a little too convenient for large parts of the national media and (mainly Conservative) elements of the Coalition Government to lay the blame firmly at the door of the benefitscrounging ‘scum’ that the sector has a duty to house at considerable taxpayer expense?
Not only is it disappointing for the sector that tenants have become the scapegoat of choice for this entire sorry episode, it could also become a major problem. All the hard work social landlords have done in recent years to improve their public image is in danger of unravelling.
In particular, my fear is that all the excellent community outreach work becomes undermined and declared ineffective.
However we respond as a sector, we must not allow that to happen.
Our coverage of the riots, the repercussions and the lessons to be learned begins in the News section and continues throughout, including a special edition of Talking Heads in which Lara Oyedele, the chief executive of Odu-Dua Housing Association, talks to one of her tenants about the disturbances in Tottenham that struck at the very heart of their community.
In this month’s cover feature, we asked Anita Pati to find out how the sector was coming to terms with the new regulatory regime and whether social landlords were comfortable with the new era of co-regulation. Her report makes for fascinating reading.
Elsewhere in this issue, we focus on two major regeneration schemes in London that are both, in very different ways, courting controversy. Kate Murray investigates why tenants are seeking to take control of two housing estates in west London against the wishes of Hammersmith & Fulham Council while Paul Coleman visits the Heygate estate south London to see if the planned new housing will learn from past mistakes.
Editor, 24housing Magazine