Based on comparative research in Melbourne, Toronto, Portland and Vancouver, this lecture will focus on how collaborative partnerships can successfully advocate for, and respond to, affordable housing programs.


AUDIO: Carolyn Whitzman - A collaborative partnership approach to affordable housing in Vancouver, Toronto, Portland, and Melbourne  

Issues which the lecture addresses
Our comparative focus is four mid-tier global cities within three neo-liberal countries that rely primarily on the private sector for their housing stock: Canada, the US and Australia. All four cities – Vancouver, Toronto, Portland, and Melbourne – are thriving economically, yet have poor housing affordability outcomes, including an increasing number of low and moderate income households who cannot afford rents or mortgage repayments.

Short analysis of the above issues
Recent deliberative planning theory has developed the idea that partnerships between governments, the private sector, and community advocates are the best way to create innovative solutions to ‘wicked’ policy problems, such as affordable housing. The worst case scenario, however, is that these partnerships are merely a new version of urban growth machines: collusion between governments and private developers in which the basic right of citizens to shelter is ignored.

Propositions for addressing the issue
In each of the four cities, seven to eight key housing actors have been interviewed and housing affordability policy and practices tracked through a desktop search. We compare recent partnerships for affordable housing, and perceived benefits of a partnership approach to affordable housing. This sense of common purpose and slowly growing inter-personal trust may not be a fundamental challenge to the urban growth machine. But in all four cities, deliberative planning is generating both the immediate actions and long-term mechanisms that may improve the lives of low and moderate income households, a worthwhile goal for any initiative.


Carolyn Whitzman is a Professor in Urban Planning at the University of Melbourne. She is the author, co-author, or lead editor of five books, including: Melbourne: What Next? A Discussion on Creating a Better Future (2014) and Building Inclusive Cities: Women’s Safety and the Right to the City (2013). She has published over 50 peer-reviewed scholarly publications on partnerships for social justice in the city, and frequently provides policy advice to local, state and national government and to the UN.


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