Roles and conditions for the voluntary sector in social housing

Volunteering is seen as important in social housing work, but there is a need for more coordination to ensure cooperation and prevent competition between the actors.

This report makes up the second part of the project on «Voluntary sector and social housing work» (Frivillig sektor og boligsosialt arbeid) commissioned by the Norwegian Housing Bank (Husbanken). The first report of the project describes three roles within social housing work for the voluntary sector: Traditional voluntary organizations, grassroots voluntarism and voluntary work and the role as contributing to social innovations and social entrepreneurship.

Starting from this threefold division this report investigates three main questions:
- What are the understandings of voluntariness to which the authorities are leaning in their efforts and expectations towards the voluntary sector and social housing work?
- How are current framework conditions impacting on the structure and content of the voluntary sector?
- What consequences may be expected from a different role of the voluntary sector for the public welfare model?

The report builds on documents and interviews with national and local stakeholders within the field of social housing work, representing both public and voluntary sector actors. The analysis reveals that public documents do not provide clear answers on what the future role of the voluntary sector ought to be within social housing. Voluntarism is promoted as of general importance within this field, and public sector actors see a great potential in grassroots voluntarism (e.g. unpaid voluntary efforts). Whereas both public actors and other stakeholders within the social housing field stress the importance of arrangements for subsidies and contributions, the other group is basically more critical towards contracting out and implications from new EU-directives on public procurements.

The voluntary sector organizations are concerned with how this may endanger their value basis, identity and autonomy and leads to competition between voluntary organizations and the municipalities, as well as between voluntary organizations themselves, instead of promoting cooperation. If the voluntary sector is given another role within social housing work, this may create tensions between different service providers, ethical challenges and needs for improved coordination from public authorities.

The report provides examples on how grassroots voluntarism and social entrepreneurship have contributed towards social innovation within social housing work and discusses possible challenges related to social entrepreneurship and the application of methods from the world of business.

April 6, 2017, 10:19 a.m.

cp: 2018-05-25 08:15:55