Social housing is a field in which the third sector role has been transformed beyond recognition over the past quarter century. This can be depicted as a process of shifting governance. Assets and strategic policy levers have been progressively stripped away from local government, with responsibility for both delivery and management of social housing increasingly vested with the boards of independent organizations (Mullins, 2006a). This progression has had two main components. First, since the mid-1980s, virtually all new publicly funded social housing has been constructed by housing associations rather than local authorities — around half a million new homes have been built in this way since 1980. Second, since 1988, over 150 local authorities have transferred their entire housing portfolio to housing associations (Pawson, 2006).
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