Housing through social enterprise

Glasgow’s housing market has seen new trends in tenure change emerge in the last 10-15 years. Between 2001 and 2011 the proportion of households that were owner occupiers declined for the first time since 1981, and the proportion of households in social rented accommodation continued to decline.

At the same time, the proportion of households in the private rented sector increased by two-and-a-half times, to 1-in-6. We know that many of Glasgow’s most deprived neighbourhoods have seen substantial increases in private renting during this period.

This suggests that there is growing demand for rented accommodation among low income and otherwise vulnerable households in Glasgow, which is not being met by the social rented sector. The concern is that tenancies can be less stable and more expensive in the private rented sector and housing quality is more variable, which we know has an impact on health and wellbeing.

Project outline

This research project looked at the potential role of social enterprises in meeting Glasgow’s housing need. It examined the experiences of tenants being housed or supported by three housing social enterprises. Looking across the private and social rented sectors, the research worked with:

  • Homes for Good, a not-for-profit letting agency, which also has an expanding portfolio of its own rented property.
  • NG Homes, a large community-based housing association which provides social rented housing.
  • Y People’s rent deposit guarantee schemes, which support people at risk of homelessness to access housing in the private rented sector.

All three organisations have a strong focus on supporting vulnerable and low-income households, many of whom have been homeless or are at risk of homelessness. These organisations focus on the needs of tenants, each providing their own system of wrap-around support, which aims to help them cope with housing- and non-housing-related problems.

We were interested in how these three models of housing service compared, in terms of the quality of housing they provide and the health outcomes they create.The project interviewed over 70 tenants from across these three organisations, at 3 points over the first year of their tenancy. The interviews asked quantitative questions that aimed to measure tenants’ health and wellbeing outcomes, as well as qualitative questions that explored their experiences with each housing provider.


briefing paper that outlines the findings of the first, scoping phase of this study was published in 2017. 

An end of project report will outline the findings of the main research project can be found here. There will also be a two-page, plain English summary of these findings. Both will be available soon.

The recommendations for policy and practice that arise from these findings are the subject of a workshop with housing and public health practitioners in February 2019.

Collaborative working

This project is being delivered by the University of Stirling, in partnership with the Glasgow Centre for Population Health. It is part of the CommonHealth research programme, which consists of eight projects delivered by Glasgow Caledonian University in partnership with a range of social enterprises and a multi-disciplinary team of academics from Stirling, Glasgow, Highlands & Islands, and Robert Gordon Universities. It is funded by the Medical Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council. Access more information about the project.

Related topic: Money and work