Reports and Publications


October 2015

Future of Public Housing Scenarios

Developed from the Housing for All Community Dialogue with local and international housing stakeholders in May 2015



October 2015

Canada Poverty Policy Audit Election 2015

(Housing & Homelessness section begins on page 10)



September 2015

May 21-23, 2015 at UBC (requires Google Docs password)

Session 1: Trends, Past & Future

Session 2: Transformations

Session 3: Equity & Inclusion

Session 4: Housing in Canada

Session 5: Allies for Public Housing

  • Imaging Public Housing: The Influence of popular media on perceptions of public housing
    Professor Sherry McKay, School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  •  The Role of Non-profits in meeting the Public Housing Challenge in the U.S.
    Professor Rachel Bratt, Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, Tufts University, Medford, USA



A Multi-Agency Model of Affordable Housing Richmond BC
Kristen Patten, April 2014

Vancouver Community Land Trust Foundation: Examining a Model for Long-Term Availability
Kristen Patten, April 2015



Penny Gurstein, Kristin Patten and Prajna Rao
School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP),
University of British Columbia
UBC e-mail:
May 11, 2015, Vancouver, BC

Click here to download the report.

Public Housing Stock - Historical Trends

Executive Summary

The Future of Public Housing project (scarp-futureofpublichousing) seeks to address the gap in knowledge on public housing by focusing on an international, multidisciplinary and comparative investigation of the history, current situation and possible futures for public housing. A first phase of research conducted in the summer of 2014 explored historical patterns in the provision of public housing in four global regions: North America, the EU, Eastern Europe and East and Southeast Asia. Data was collected from countries in the four regions focusing on key indicators related to the state of the public housing sector: number of units of public housing, percentage of public housing compared to market housing, distribution of tenure types in public housing stock, historical patterns of public housing as a percentage of total housing stock, and public housing rents compared to market rents. This data was represented visually using maps and diagrams, allowing for a comparative analysis of trends and patterns. Individual country profiles were created, allowing for a more in-depth depiction of public housing data for each country as well as narrative descriptions of the public housing structure, tenure and key historical policy trends. Initial analysis reveals that there is a lessening of public sector involvement in public housing; out of sixteen countries with available historical data, twelve showed declining percentages of public housing stock since the 1990’s. Closer examination of countries where there are increasing units of public housing show that there are challenges in keeping up with increasing population growth – while numbers of units may be increasing, percentages are decreasing.

Within this general trend of declining stocks, the data also demonstrates that there is a wide variation in the countries studied, from a high of 82% in Singapore to a low of .4% in Latvia. Many countries use a mix of tenures including co-operative housing and ownership in addition to the more common rental tenure; ownership as a key public housing tenure is particularly prevalent in countries with a high percentage of public housing ( Indications of other trends include privatization of public housing stock with insufficient replacement, shifts toward rent subsidies vs. units of public housing, and an increasing residualisation of public housing to ever-more specific target populations.

At the same time, there are a small number of countries and regions where public housing is an increasing priority of public policy and funding, and where target groups are being expanded rather than restricted. In Asia, Singapore and Hong Kong have been leaders in public housing for years, with 82% and 47% of the population housed in public housing respectively (Housing and Development Board, 2013; Hong Kong Housing Society 2013). More recently, China has launched one of the most ambitious public housing construction project with a target of 36 million units by 2015 while in South Korea the public housing sector has been expanding since 1989 (Ronald, R. and Doling, J. 2013; Lee, H. and Ronald, R. 2012). In Eastern Europe, Poland stands out as an alternative to the general trend of mass privatization of public housing stock in the region, with 29.4% of its total housing stock consisting of public housing (CECODHAS 2012). While these countries are a distinct minority, they provide important examples of countries that are defining a different path for public housing in the context of neoliberalism and downsizing of government involvement.

Click here to read the whole report