Social Bite Village*

Social Bite Village

Supportive Housing in Edinburgh, Scotland


Featured in FEANTSA’s 50-Out-Of-The-Box-Solutions Report


Social Bite, a chain of cafés in Scotland with a social mission of ending homelessness, set up their first village in 2017 – a highly-supported community for up to 20 people across 11 prefab wooden homes, called ‘Nest Houses’. The village is located on a site made available for a period of four years by the City of Edinburgh Council. Social Bite has been engaged in work beyond the village, organizing the international campaign called The World’s Big Sleepout, which took place in 52 cities throughout the world, and created and launched Scotland’s Housing First program – securing 830 mainstream flats across 5 cities.


  • As of 2019, there are 51,365 people experiencing homelessness in Scotland, including 35,654 adults and 15,711 children, up 4% from 2018 (source).
  • The 2016 Sleep Out invited 300 leading business people and policy makers to spend a night outside, raising £550,000, and raising awareness of the costs of the current system (which
    spends around £6 million per year on an overstretched, temporary accommodation system) and proposed an alternative
  • The Social Bite Village is a transitory space, not a permanent
    home, with residents supported to move into mainstream
    tenancies, employment and education after 12-18 months.
  • The Social Bite Village has gained a following among celebrities, visited and supported by George ClooneyLeonardo Dicaprio, Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Malala Yousafzai and many others.

Mission: Provide an alternative to encampments to help move people off the streets, through temporary housing facilities, and into long-term housing.


Owner: City of Edinburgh – the village is required to leave the
site after 4 years. As such, the entire village is made to be portable for relocation to a new site in the future.

Previous Use: Vacant grass lot.

Use Arrangement: A four-year lease between Social Bite (acts as the landlord) and the city council. Social Bite, a nonprofit, does not pay any rent or council tax (property/real estate tax).

Site Selection Criteria Considerations: City Council’s selected the site _____

Site Selection Notes


  • Site was selection process:



Upfront Development*$1.03 millionAround £750,000 (=$1 million) was spent on the village, which is only about half of the real cost, as many materials and labor was donated – valued at close to another  to £750,000, or £1.5 million total (=$2.1 million).
Cost Per Bed*$__k11 beds in total
Operating Costs*$__ million/yearfrom
Cost Per Bed*$__k/year$__/bed/night (blended adults + youth)


Funding Notes


  • Funded from___
  • Each cabin carries £30k of corporate sponsorship, branded prominently at the doorway of the corresponding home.
  • Volunteers helped construct the homes, install landscaping, even made quilts and curtains for the home’s interiors.


Lead Deal CoordinatorSb Logo Fullcolour Transparent Rgb Housing Innovation CollaborativeSocial Bite Ltd, Social Bite Villages are owned by a parent charity the Social Bite Fund.
Community Engagement 


Construction Management__
Shelter Vendor / Manufacturer 


On-Site Assembly Edinburgh Logo Housing Innovation Collaborative___


Design Notes


  • Designer Jonathan Avery co-designed a model that
    would comfortably house two people whilst allowing privacy.
    The village provides a secure and welcoming home, whilst
    being environmentally sustainable, easily transported and
    capable of nurturing communal life.


OperatorOn-site support: They are partnered with two organisations to maximise the lasting impact of the Village. 

Hi Housing Innovation Collaborative

Hillcrest Housing Association provides facilities management services and indepth expertise essential to delivering the project.

2 5 Housing Innovation Collaborative

Cyrenians provides live-in support, ensuring that there is a waking key worker present in the Village Hub at any given time.

Agreement4-year operating agreement, coinciding with the term of the land lease.
  • ___day-shift workers
  • Shelter Manager
  • Program Supervisor
  • Logistic Coordinators
  • Case Managers
  • Security
  • Janitorial
  • Back-end Admin
Services ProvidedIn addition to site management and live-support, Social Bite works with over 160 companies who pledged jobs during the Sleep in the Park campaign. We also support access to higher education through partnership with our neighbour, Edinburgh College and the Open University.
  • ~$____/bed/night operating costs
Operating Expenses
  • On-Site Personnel
  • Maintenance
  • Client Services, meals


Operation Notes


  • Social Bite is a nonprofit that has done work with the City of Edinburgh in the past
  • Local preference policy at shelters

Relevant Materials


  • Social Bite Village Overview: link
  • 50 Out of the Box Solutions Report Overview: link