Looking back on 2021: Stuart Ropke reflects
There is a lot to look back and be proud of for all of my colleagues at Community Housing Cymru, and our members, in the past year. We may have spent most of our year working from home as we did in 2020, but we can be confident that our work alongside housing associations and with other partners had a huge impact.
2021 was always going to be a challenging year with the Senedd election in May on top of Covid-19. At the end of last year, we launched our Home! manifesto which set a benchmark to what the housing sector needed if it was to thrive. We wanted whoever was going to lead the Welsh government after May 2021 to invest and support building enough affordable, safe and low carbon homes over the next Senedd term. Fast forward to the draft budget on 20 December, we’re now seeing that commitment; 20,000 social homes to be built over the next four years and a record £1bn investment into the housing sector.
The achievement of record levels of investment reflects a real team effort from everyone across Wales who made the case for housing and CHC has played a full part in that campaign. We’ll spend 2022 making sure that the government backs up the investment it’s making in social housing and helps create a positive operating environment to allow our members to build these homes for those who need them.
We’ve not just been involved in influencing housing policy in Wales and making the case for investment in new homes – we’ve made sure that the housing sector is central to thinking around decarbonisation. As many of us have spent more time at home than anywhere else these past couple of years, there is greater awareness of how we live, in addition to where we live. As poverty and homelessness levels remain far too high, there is plenty left to achieve and we will continue to address the issues that matter to our members and support them in their quest to be brilliant.
As we enter 2022, with the pandemic still hanging over us, there is no doubt that many challenges and more change lies ahead. We will continue with the help of our board and colleagues to ensure that we focus on what’s most important, not only in how we set our priorities but also on how we deliver our services to our members. It seems clear that things will not return to how they were before Covid-19 dominated our world back in March 2020, and the challenge now is to ensure that your membership body is fit for a changed world.