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At HHS we give help and housing to create strong communities. We recognise that historically, the voices of people who have experienced homelessness or insecure housing are traditionally missing from the planning process. The phrase, ‘nothing about us without us’ is often used to communicate the idea that no policy, service or project should be decided without representation and participation from people affected by that decision. To address this, we are committed to placing the client at the core of our decisions, systems and services. One way we can deliver this commitment is through placemaking.


We have a strategic focus to build our placemaking capabilities and have developed a Placemaking Framework with Village Well, Australia’s first placemaking consultancy with over 30 years experience.


Placemaking is often defined as a collaborative process of improving spaces to promote social interaction and strengthen local identity. It involves transforming spaces into welcoming and functional places that people want to spend time in, and that reflect the needs of the people who use them. It requires participation of the users and cooperation from facility managers, community members and government.


Placemaking has its roots in urban design, but we have seen place approaches increasingly being applied in social housing to deliver sustainable community outcomes. Place is recognised as one of the social determinants of health. Research has found, that while many people are grateful for being provided housing, a property alone is not enough to feel in place[i]. As a homelessness service, we see people who experience housing displacement, and when we lose our place in the world, we can lose our sense of self. As a community housing provider, we are uniquely situated to help foster reconnections to place, safety, home and self. Community led placemaking can turn bricks and mortar into a healing environment.


Our partners, Village Well outline the connection:


“Social housing is created to combat homelessness, but often struggles with maintenance, stigma, isolation, and lack of upkeep from residents. Placemaking can help reduce some of these issues. Placemaking approaches focus on connecting neighbours, promoting local custodianship, and beautifying neighbourhoods which have seen a reduction in poor neighbourhood behaviours, like rubbish, crime and vandalism. Placemaking can be a key part of ensuring that the infrastructure built for social housing is successful in reducing homelessness and stigma, whilst empowering residents to live their best possible life, take pride in their place and look after it. Research has shown that placemaking can improve social connection which leads to a substantial improvement on health.  It can also empower residents and boost self-esteem and identity. Along with this, economic studies have found that there will be savings on healthcare, security, and maintenance when placemaking is applied.”


We have used placemaking approaches for our 151-apartments in Epping, where we worked with Village Well to develop a placemaking approach. We have a Community Activation Plan and Community and Place Manager to deliver our local vision: ‘more than a home, a place where communities shine’.  By using a placemaking approach we can also deliver on our performance indicators in community engagement, place renewal, social inclusion, participation and client voice.



[1] Victoria F. Burns, Natalie St-Denis, Christine A. Walsh & Jennifer Hewson (2022) Creating a Sense of Place after Homelessness: We Are Not “Ready for the Shelf”, Journal of Aging and Environment, 36:1, 1-15, DOI: 10.1080/26892618.2020.1858382

[i] Creating a Sense of Place after Homelessness: We Are Not “Ready for the Shelf”



8 May 2023

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