New Report: Thinking Beyond the Market: Innovative Housing Examples Based on People, Not Profit

By Brian Doucet, Emma McDougall, Matthew Jay

Housing is both a human right and a speculative commodity from which to extract wealth. Therein lies the crux of the housing problem. Until we fully reconcile these contradictory roles that housing plays, we will be in a perpetual state of crisis. This report articulates why we cannot simply build our way out of this problem and why thinking beyond the market is necessary. This does not mean eliminating the market entirely. Instead, thinking beyond the market can come in a variety of ways: 

  • building new housing without the market (public land is central to this approach) 
  • building new housing by shaping, or regulating the market (rules and regulations that ensure some of what private developers build is affordable to communities who need it. Inclusionary zoning policies are one approach to this) 
  • preserving and protecting existing housing stock without the market (this often involves decommodifying existing housing, through acquisition by government or non-profits) 
  • preserving and protecting existing housing stock by shaping, or regulating the market (this requires strong rules around rent control and tenant protections which are more about finding the right political vision than the biggest budget) 

This report outlines a number of key examples of policies, programs and projects that are already doing all of these things. They are often small, or confined to one community. But they all help to shift the housing pendulum away from speculation and towards housing as a human right. The report is not meant to be an exhaustive look at every project, nor does it always focus on the biggest examples. Instead, it is a collection of approaches that operate differently than conventional, profit-driven housing developments

This research is funded in part by the Hamilton Community Foundation, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, and the Canada Research Chairs program.

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