Julie Blake is CEO of Adelaide-based Westside Housing Company, a Director of the Community Housing Industry Association and of the Community Housing Council SA, and a former Director of the Australasian Housing Institute (2015-2020) and Shelter SA.
Julie has been involved in the development and management of social and affordable housing for people who are vulnerable for over 25 years. With a chronic global shortage of affordable housing the most vulnerable are often priced out of well-located housing close to good services, including schools, jobs and transport, because they can’t afford it.
Originally from the UK, Julie has worked in specialist policy, service development and systemic change programs with a particular focus on place-making, community engagement and empowerment as an approach that considers market forces and place attributes rather than the characteristics of individuals and of their community. With housing market factors being an important contributor to homelessness, social housing can play a positive or negative role in addressing social inequality, social inclusion and place-based disadvantage, depending on its quality and location.
Julie’s 2017 Churchill Fellowship focused on successful resident participation strategies used in large-scale neighbourhood renewal projects in cities where spatial disadvantage is extreme. These large-scale renewal projects aim to improve the quality of housing for many thousands of people, to improve people’s access to opportunities and to create communities that are safe and attractive places to live. Understanding the approaches that have worked to achieve genuine change in people’s lives and to improve their experiences of the place they call home at a scale we can barely imagine in Australia provides insights for all practitioners in social housing.
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