3 comments

  1. Hi Claire,
    Your article doesn’t address what replaced public housing in the 1970s: community-based non-profits and coops. Most of these are private non-profit corporations set up by community associations, faith groups and service clubs to create mixed-income affordable housing that rejected many of the problems with “form/design, demographic and management” that you mention.
    This has actually proven to be a very viable model to address housing affordability, and a very effective way to provide good quality housing that has a positive impact on the neighbourhood.
    The City of Ottawa itself built under these same programs when it operated City Living, a predecessor to Ottawa Community Housing. The provincial government downloaded public housing stock to the City 15 years ago; the mixed-income, well-scaled City Living housing was thrown together with the old public housing stock (complete with all the inherent problems of form/design). The new amalgamated corporation has done a good job with the hand they were dealt, but it was not a winning hand.
    But before making the conclusion that it’s a choice between public housing vs private housing, or that the private sector offers the only hope for solving the problems, consider that there is a “third way”: private non-profit housing. I’m biased, because I work there, but I’ll offer CCOC (ccochousing.org) as a great example.

  2. Hi Ray,
    Thank you so much for your comment. You are absolutely right of course. This form of housing generally falls under the “social”, rather than “public” sector of housing providers and is indeed quite successful, as it dodges most of the worrisome factors associated with public housing (form/design, demographic and management). I do state that the public/private intervention is only one possible solution, so I am by no means counting out non-profits such as CCOC, but in Ottawa their housing portfolio is only about 1/10th that of OCH and is still by far the largest non-profit in operation. There is a big difference in scale between the two and while non-profit housing is a valuable asset, it does not seem capable at this time to take the whole brunt of the affordable housing shortage on its own. In fact, non-profit organizations seem to run in a similar way to what I am proposing above. In any given “complex” (beaver barracks for example), a percentage of units are rented at market rates to ensure financial success. If I am not mistaken, not all of CCOC’s housing is affordable. It does, of course, remain an integral part of Ottawa’s affordable housing.
    The above article is a small portion of a much larger piece. I do address these issues in greater detail in the larger article if you would like to read it (in fact, I believe we may have had a meeting together in October 2012 as part of my research).

  3. Claire: I work with Ray at CCOC. We would be interested in reading your longer paper that you mention in your comment if you are able to share it.

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