For almost 25 years, Salsbury has been on a wild journey as a community organization and housing operator. Over this time, people have expressed interest in learning more about our housing model and approach. Questions that come up repeatedly relate to creating a more connected community, having hard conversations with tenants, and nurturing and fostering socially sustainable communities. We have had the privilege and challenge to address these topics in our own context and wonder if our learnings might be helpful in your operations.
We’ve come to realize that community building isn’t a job title for one person alone - it takes a particular group of people, processes, and policies to build social capacity. Organizations can do important preventative work that lays a foundation for a healthy housing community and work environment that reduces burnout or compassion fatigue. Over the years we’ve come to realize some important things:
Loneliness is a universal human experience we can all relate to.
The kind of housing people live in CAN make a big difference in the experience of social isolation.
People CAN live in affordable non-profit housing that cultivates a diverse community, nurtures a sense of belonging, and has a supportive landlord.
Culture, policy and processes play a vital role in nurturing neighbourliness and developing communities of connection. SCS’s consulting work includes taking time to learn your own culture, goals and vision, in order to provide added value in three main areas of your operations, which you can choose from the menu of services below.
The physical design How you house
This task focuses on amenity spaces and suite configuration in the housing project. We consider how to maximize shared spaces as an integral part of cultivating community. This task is focused on collecting, clarifying, and organizing the work that you have completed in recent years as it relates to cultivating connection between tenants and staff (policy & practice).
The invitation How you welcome
The invitation into community is one of the biggest factors in the kind of housing you cultivate. This task will focus on your application design and intake process. We will focus on setting expectations, clear communication, and the application review process.
The framework How you become (more) socially sustainable
In this step, SCS will help identify the areas in which staff and tenants working together will be key to setting a foundation of collaboration. Creating a social sustainability framework will give you a blueprint from which to make budgeting and staffing decisions. It will also give you an opportunity to identify which decisions need to be made by staff and which decisions can be made by tenants.
Covid has presented a ‘brutiful’ (brutal and beautiful) opportunity to test how brittle and resilient our relationships are. For SCS, it has clarified the importance of operating housing that is connected and relational. In times of great change, conflict and challenge - it’s important that operators remember the current moment is not the only moment. There are small things we can do now to decrease harm and increase respect and communication over time in order to change conditions and dynamics.
SCS has been reflecting and growing in our operations as we build trust with small, imperfect, intentional gestures that demonstrate vulnerable leadership. In the housing space we often think that when things get tricky we need to take action when we might actually need to do something much harder… build relationships. SCS would like to help you consider how you could start building better relationships in your community of housing.
Reach out via email@example.com and let’s connect!