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Issue 119: September 2020

No going back

So many of our preconceptions have been turned on their head during the Covid-19 pandemic that it’s hard to keep count. Who could have imagined before March that we could work at home and keep our organisations running for months? Or that a Conservative government in Westminster would end up paying the wages of millions of workers and offering half-price meal deals?

Much closer to home, the chances of ending homelessness looked better than for years. Wales was fortunate that much of the ground work had already been laid before the pandemic. The Homelessness Action Group had published an action plan for turning that aspiration into reality with widespread buy-in across politics and society but implementation still looked set to take time. In the wake of the lockdown in March it was achieved in a couple of weeks.

This issue of WHQ looks back at the concerted phase 1 effort across government, local government and the voluntary sector to bring rough sleepers and others without a permanent home into safe accommodation. But as hotels start to turn back into hotels we also look at the phase 2 work to ensure that enough permanent accommodation is available to ensure that nobody has to go back into homelessness. Interviews with Julie James and Lynda Thorne offer perspectives on both from Welsh Government and Cardiff Council.

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, and the wider impact of the pandemic, led to demonstrations against racial inequality across the world. We have a Welsh perspective on Black Lives Matter with articles by four former and current students on Cardiff Met’s Housing Studies course on their hopes for the future as black housing professionals.

We also hear from Tai Pawb on its Deeds Not Words pledge on racial inequality and from Tamsin Stirling with a board member’s perspective on our individual and collective duty to tackle it.

More directly related to Coronavirus, housing associations from across Wales reflect on the impact of the pandemic on their organisations and communities. We also have two contributions from academia: from Ken Gibb and Chris Foye on a research project looking at the impact on housing policy in the UK and Australia; and from Craig Gurney on the way that home was a safe haven for many of us during the lockdown but left others vulnerable to harms.

We hope that this issue of WHQ reflects the experiences of a momentous period for everyone and the challenges that still lie ahead in uncertain times. Stay safe.

Jules Birch, editor, WHQ   

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