Co-designing social housing policy

Co-designing social housing policy is a relatively new concept in Australia, so it’s good to see tenants involved in policy development. New AHURI research tackles the issues amid the need for urgent reform of the housing sector. Tenant participation leads to benefits for all involved.

‘For policy co-design methods
to work well, there must be
respect and recognition of the
expertise of all participants
involved in the policy making

A new three storey housing development still has the chain link fencing around it. Social housing policy.

AHURI’s summary paper of the research acknowledges the role of champions within organisations who must lead the development of the design processes. Otherwise, they are not successful or sustainable. However, they require resources and support for these processes to succeed.

Attracting ‘representative’ tenants is difficult because those with the most complex challenges often cannot spare the time because they are in crisis. If participation programs are online or use written forms, only those who can read will be included.

What’s needed for successful co-design

Other important findings from the research include:

  1. A toolbox of participatory methods is needed for engagement across the diverse population who have varied needs for housing assistance.
An old wooden box with mental handles and clasp.

2. Recognition of expertise of frontline staff is an important but untapped source of potential policy expertise.

3. An ongoing commitment is necessary to resourcing, investing in, and training workforces, and building participant capability and supports for policy co-design. And an evaluation program to confirm what works well, under what conditions and for whom.

The title of the policy summary is, Including social housing tenant voice in policy leads to better outcomes.

The report’s executive summary, Social housing pathways by policy co-design: opportunities for tenant participation in system innovation in Australia has more. Or you can read the full report as well.

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