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Report Social and affordable housing

Transforming public housing in a federal context

Final Report No. 264

Date Published: 13 Jul 2016

Authors: Julie Lawson Crystal Legacy Sharon Parkinson

The research focuses on public housing reform within multi-provider systems and complex governmental settings.

It considers how four federated governments (United States (US), Canada, Germany and Austria) have managed the transformation of their social housing system so as to inform Australian approaches. Public housing in these countries is no longer the dominant social landlord, but part of a multi-provider system alongside other not-for-profit and private players. However, the design of their social housing systems in terms of policy, funding, provision and regulation differs markedly. 

National transformation strategies have been elaborated with reference to two local illustrations for each country; being San Diego and Portland, Toronto and Vancouver, Berlin and Munich, Vienna and Lower Austria. The experiences of these cities and their housing providers illustrate how federalism is mediated locally and offers much deeper insight than national overviews alone can provide.

Successful public housing sectors, in complex federated governance settings, require strong and stable intergovernmental and stakeholder commitment to support a sustainable affordable housing industry. Vibrant and growing multi-provider systems are present in countries where business models are well defined, broadly allocated, publicly supported and well-regulated with conditional subsidies contestable, as in Austria. 
Devolution of responsibilities without the adequate transfer of resources often deteriorates and reduces public social housing stock in the long term, as in Canada and Germany. A number of policy development options are proposed.

DOI: 10.18408/ahuri-5308201

Published by: Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited

ISSN: 1834-7223

ISBN: 978-1-925334-26-5


Citation: Lawson, J., Legacy, C., and Parkinson, S. (2016) Transforming public housing in a federal context, AHURI Final Report No. 264, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute Limited, Melbourne, https://www.ahuri.edu.au/research/final-reports/264, doi:10.18408/ahuri-5308201.