(Re)Building Home and Community in the Social Housing Sector: Lessons from a South Australian Approach

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

(Re)Building Home and Community in the Social Housing Sector: Lessons from a South Australian Approach


  • Selina Tually The Australian Alliance for Social Enterprise, UniSA Business, University of South Australia, Australia
  • William Skinner Anthropology and Development Studies, School of Social Sciences, University of Adelaide, Australia
  • Debbie Faulkner The Australian Alliance for Social Enterprise, UniSA Business, University of South Australia, Australia
  • Ian Goodwin-Smith The Australian Alliance for Social Enterprise, UniSA Business, University of South Australia, Australia


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Abstract:  Australia’s social housing sector is under great pressure. Actions to improve social housing sector capacity and responsiveness have occupied the minds and endeavours of many policy makers, practitioners and scholars for some time now. This article focusses on one approach to challenges within the sector recently adopted in a socio-economically disadvantaged area within Adelaide, South Australia: transfer of housing stock from the public to the community housing sector for capacity and community building purposes (the Better Places, Stronger Communities Public Housing Transfer Program). The discussion draws on evaluative research about this northern Adelaide program, which has a deliberate theoretical and practical foundation in community development and place-making as a means for promoting and strengthening social inclusion, complementing its tenancy management and asset growth focuses. Tenants and other stakeholders report valued outcomes from the program’s community development activities—the focus of this article—which have included the coproduction of new and necessary social and physical infrastructures to support community participation and engagement among (vulnerable) tenants and residents, confidence in the social landlord and greater feelings of safety and inclusion among tenants, underpinning an improving sense of home, community and place. Consideration of program outcomes and lessons reminds us of the importance of the ‘social’ in social housing and social landlords. The program provides a model for how social landlords can work with tenants and others to (re)build home and community in places impacted by structural disadvantage, dysfunction, or change. The article adds to the literature on the role of housing, in this case community housing, as a vehicle for place-making and promoting community development and social inclusion.

Keywords:  co-production; community development; community housing; disadvantage; place-making; social housing; social inclusion; social landlord; stock transfer; tenants

Published:   31 July 2020


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v8i3.2822


© Selina Tually, William Skinner, Debbie Faulkner, Ian Goodwin-Smith. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.