Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Missing Hero: Co‐Producing Change in Social Housing Programmes

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Abstract:  The aim of this article is to develop theory and generate knowledge about the challenges and possibilities of co‐producing change in a social housing programme. The purpose of the project was to implement the Housing First philosophy in the social housing programme in the city of Helsingborg, Sweden. The aim was also to create opportunities for service user involvement. Several innovative measures were implemented in order for these changes to occur from autumn 2016 to summer 2017. The social services commissioned a university course on which social workers and their clients studied together on equal terms to create project plans for the further development of their own workplace. A “Future” workshop was held by the researchers with representatives from all the different housing options (the shelter, transitional housing, category housing, Housing First apartments), both clients and social workers. Repeated dialogue meetings were conducted at the different housing options to discuss how service user involvement could be developed and to discover new ways of participation. This article is based on a strengths‐based perspective using the theoretical discussions on social traps, as well as the concepts of enabling and entrapping niches. We show the importance of social workers identifying and supporting missing heroes—service users who want to participate and be involved in co‐producing change. We also show that if an organisation is not prepared for the initiated changes, there is a risk of disappointment due to awakened expectations that are not fulfilled. Building trust is also an important component to emerge from the material, but we also found that change processes can be initiated that continue and have impact beyond the initial project’s goals.

Keywords:  co‐production; enabling niches; gap mending; social housing; social traps; trust



© Marcus Knutagård, Cecilia Heule, Arne Kristiansen. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.