Hong Kong Transitional Housing: Community and Social Cohesion

Challenges to Social Cohesion

Environmental health is a significant concern for public housing, especially in challenging conditions. Everything, from sanitation to safety, influences well-being and creates barriers to social cohesion in a community. Any sort of public or transitional housing is usually affected by a lack of care for the living environment from residents as well as governments. In turn, this impacts opportunities for social interaction which are dependent on the availability of public goods and community-based events to ensure cohesion (Hayward et al., 2015). In housing built on the sea, there will be a number of technical and spatial challenges in providing access to services and goods that could be easily implemented in traditional urban environments. Such environments will not aid in helping to form relationships that are necessary for community cohesion, but rather cause social isolation.

Sustainable Urban Planning

When developing a unique type of public housing, the focus should be on sustainable urban planning, particularly in this example where there is interaction with a critical natural resource such as water. Sustainable housing must balance the need to handle population levels while building systems ranging from transportation to utilities that are energy efficient and reduce effects on the environment. It will aid with competent management of spatial layouts while reducing pollution effects that impact the human population as well (Xue, Huang, Guan, & Lin, 2014) In addition, sustainability serves as a common goal which can be used for community-driven development.

Social Cohesion in Multicultural ‘Transitional’ Neighborhoods

Transitional public housing is most likely to have a multicultural population due to migrant workers being a large consumer base of such housing types. This may result in social segregation and exclusion which may limit community cohesion. To prevent this, an availability of public goods and social capital is beneficial to bringing people together. In addition, governance processes such as participatory design and measures taken to prevent neighborhood divides based socio-economic factors will aid with social cohesion and an establishment of common values for residents of the public housing (Cameron, Gilroy, & Miciukiewicz, n.d.)

Social Service Delivery in Difficult Environments

Public housing built on the sea creates a difficult environment which brings its unique challenges. Experience from humanitarian aid can be used in the process of urban planning to ensure specific issues such as poverty, which is prevalent in transitional housing, can be mitigated. It is critical to balance short-term objectives such as providing necessary resources with long-term objectives such as sustainability. The housing situation in Hong Kong is unlikely to be resolved in the near future. Therefore, transitional housing may become permanent for many residents. With this in mind, essential services and public goods should not be disregarded. In order to combat poverty and other community dividing factors, there should be a consistent mechanism for the funding and delivery of services through the government and private sector (Duflo, Galiani, & Mobarak, 2012).

Community-Based Approaches

Community-driven development is a governance and urban planning approach that is similar to participatory design. It seeks to empower community groups by giving them control over decisions. The community-based approach is incredibly effective in raising morale for the underprivileged groups that are forced into transitional or public housing. By ensuring community participation, interventions are likely to be more lasting and organized since they are made using a ground-up approach (Slaymaker, & Christiansen, 2005). In challenging environments and transitional housing where people are not as invested in the well-being of the community, such approaches are helpful in creating social connections.

Social Innovations

Social innovation is essentially a unique system of governance and policy creation which actively contributes to improving quality of life, citizen satisfaction, and participation, all of which are critical for community cohesion. There are often socio-political and economic barriers to the implementation of social innovations, but, despite this, it has been successfully attempted in Europe. Social innovation has had the tremendous success of ensuring access and sustainability of public housing by evaluating all aspects of community cohesion and improvement of stability (Czischke, 2013).


Cameron, S., Gilroy, R., & Miciukiewicz, K. (n.d.). Social cohesion in housing and neighbourhood research in Europe.

Czischke, D. (2013). Social innovation in housing: Learning from practice across Europe. Web.

Duflo, E., Galiani, S., & Mobarak, M. (2012). Improving access to urban services for the poor. Web.

Hayward, E., Ibe, C., Young, J.H., Potti, K., Jones, P., Pollack, C.E., & Gudzune, K.A. (2015). Linking social and built environmental factors to the health of public housing residents: a focus group study. BMC Public Health, 15, 351. doi:10.1186/s12889-015-1710-9

Slaymaker, T., & Christiansen, K. (2005). Community-based approaches and service delivery: Issues and options in difficult environments and partnerships. Web.

Xue, D., Huang, G., Guan, J., & Lin, J. (2014). Changing concepts of city and urban planning practices in Guangzhou (1949–2010): An approach to sustainable urban development. Chinese Geographic Science, 24(5), 607-619. doi:10.1007/s11769-014-0711-4

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