Housing been described as the “wobbly pillar” of the welfare state on account of it never achieving universal coverage as did health and education. This does not diminish its importance for individuals, households, communities and social stability. Adequate and affordable housing provision is one of the key elements of a functioning democracy. Often characterised as the routine undertaking of simple tasks, housing management never established itself as a key profession in the public sector during the twentieth century. The author challenges that characterisation of housing management by arguing that, from its inception, ‘housing management’ involves complex tasks.
Housing managers engage with some of the most difficult situations, including homelessness, racial harassment, domestic violence and anti-social behaviour. In continually responding to changing emphases in housing and welfare policy, housing management has established itself as a pragmatic and humane profession. However, this characterisation is itself challenged by the systematic erosion of welfare provision and the disciplinary nature of ‘welfare reform’ that requires housing managers to have an ‘enforcement’ role in respect of those people that they have traditionally sought to help. Housing management practice in the social sector has always had a complex role as it negotiates the contracts that exist both between tenants and landlords and the wider contract between the welfare state and its tenant citizens. This role faces new challenges as housing is placed at the heart of both welfare reform and an increasingly disciplinary state.
The book will be of particular interest to students of the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and to policy makers and housing managers more widely.