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Abstract: The Social Housing Initiative (SHI) formed part of the federal government’s response to the Global Financial Crisis and represented the largest one-time investment in social housing by any government in Australia’s history. This paper examines the built results of the SHI, with the analysis focused on housing design and procurement outcomes. Public housing redevelopment is an opportunity for innovation and market leadership in affordable housing design and delivery. While the SHI’s primary objective was to provide jobs in the construction industry at a time of potential economic crisis, this paper reveals that good quality innovative housing outcomes were achieved. However these were more a chance by-product of the process rather than a strategic intention. The vast majority of projects delivered in Melbourne, for instance, were ‘business as usual’ 2-for-1 dual occupancy developments. Given the magnitude of the SHI building program, this outcome can be considered a lost opportunity and an underutilisation of public investment (financial and land). This paper provides a survey of individual developments that did show innovation, illustrating through spatial analysis how quality housing and urban outcomes can be achieved within constrained social housing scenarios. The design innovations were often simple but well executed strategies, focusing on efficiency of internal apartment/unit planning, arrangement of tenancy mix/social diversity, interfaces of private dwellings with common areas and public spaces, parking arrangements, design of common areas, and addressing privacy and noise through landscaping and careful planning. The paper also describes the critical role that procurement methods play, particularly creative/nonstandard approaches to partnerships and financing, in delivering innovative design outcomes. Factors leading to innovation included the involvement of Community Housing Organisations who could access alternative land and funding sources, offer design and delivery expertise and facilitate mixed tenancy outcomes, alongside the relaxation of selected planning controls, and project alignment with existing urban renewal strategies.