Mixed housing: the lessons learned in practice

Mixed Housing meeting with researchers

Which lessons can be drawn from five mixed housing projects in Utrecht? How do residents of these projects, social professionals, project leaders and stakeholders feel about this mode of living? The Community of Practice on Mixed Housing did research to establish the elements necessary for people to become good neighbours to each other in these special forms of collective housing or co-housing.


There is a growing interest in the concept of mixed housing. In mixed housing projects, ‘regular’ tenants or students come together with members of vulnerable citizen groups to create a community. These members of vulnerable citizen groups might be individuals who have formerly been homeless, young people with a mild mental or intellectual disability, people who are psychologically vulnerable or refugees who are trying to make a new start in the Netherlands.

We studied the positive and negative experiences of the residents of these projects, social professionals, project leaders and stakeholders involved in mixed housing projects. Existing and future projects may profit from our research results. Our insights will contribute to better policies on housing and the inclusion of vulnerable citizens.

Conference 'Good Neighbours'


Positive experiences

  • The residents of mixed housing projects are generally happy. They experience positive social control and a sense of belonging;
  • ‘Regular’ tenants come in contact more often than usual with people who are ‘different’. For example, people with a mild mental or intellectual disability, a psychological vulnerability or a refugees background. Regular tenants find this an inspiring experience;
  • Mixed housing projects offer appropriate accommodation, in a special setting, for starters on the housing market (sometimes in a different country).


  • Some tenants are more actively involved than others. It requires effort from everyone involved to create a community;
  • Differences in experience can create unease and misunderstandings. Residents and the success of interaction between them benefit from good advice;
  • Careful and extensive consideration is necessary when establishing social management that involves a high level of self-organisation by residents.


01 November 2016 - 01 January 2019


This research is part of the Community of Practice on Mixed Housing. In this Community of Practice, residents of these projects, social professionals, project leaders and stakeholders meet to share their experiences and interviews and group discussions took place. These have taught us a lot about how people feel about mixed housing.


The insights gained from our research are key to the ‘Mixed housing’ course for professionals. This interactive course is aimed at the staff members employed by municipalities, housing associations, healthcare institutions and mental health and homelessness organisations. In the five course meetings, professionals will immerse themselves in the theory and practice of mixed housing, working with others on either new housing projects or the improvement of existing projects.

On the fourth of November 2019 Maarten Davelaar presented about the contribution of mixed housing projects to the inclusion of vulnerable and socially excluded citizens at the conference 'Housing under Pressure' in Vienna. 


HU researchers involved in the research

  • Aly Gruppen | Lecturer-researcher | Innovative Social Services
    Aly Gruppen
    • Teacher-researcher
    • Research group: Living and Wellbeing
  • Maarten Davelaar | Researcher | Innovative Social Services
    Maarten Davelaar
    • Researcher
    • Research group: Living and Wellbeing
  • Jeroen Knevel
    • PhD candidate
    • Research group: Participation, Care and Support

Collaboration with knowledge partners

The research was carried out by the Community of Practice on Mixed Housing, which is an initiative of professor Lia van Doorn, Nico Ooms ('t Groene Sticht/Tussenvoorziening) and independent researcher and project leader Maarten Davelaar.

We worked with the following organisations:

  • Stichting ’t Groene Sticht
  • Stichting De Tussenvoorziening
  • Woningcorporatie Portaal
  • Lister
  • Abrona
  • Woonwerkgemeenschap Emmaus

Would you like to collaborate or do you have any questions?