Public housing
Public housing is a form of housing tenure
Housing tenure
Housing tenure refers to the financial arrangements under which someone has the right to live in a house or apartment. The most frequent forms are tenancy, in which rent is paid to a landlord, and owner occupancy. Mixed forms of tenure are also possible....

 in which the property is owned by a government authority, which may be central or local. Social housing is an umbrella term
Umbrella term
An umbrella term is a word that provides a superset or grouping of concepts that all fall under a single common category. Umbrella term is also called a hypernym. For example, cryptology is an umbrella term that encompasses cryptography and cryptanalysis, among other fields...

 referring to rental housing which may be owned and managed by the state, by non-profit organizations, or by a combination of the two, usually with the aim of providing affordable housing
Affordable housing
Affordable housing is a term used to describe dwelling units whose total housing costs are deemed "affordable" to those that have a median income. Although the term is often applied to rental housing that is within the financial means of those in the lower income ranges of a geographical area, the...

. In some countries, e.g. Brazil and Spain, qualifying families may own a social housing property rather than renting it. Social housing can also be seen as a potential remedy to housing inequality
Housing inequality
Housing inequality refers to the differences in the quality of housing that exist within a given society. It has implications for the options available to an individual or family and tends to focus on the negative aspects of inequality...


Although the common goal of public housing is to provide affordable housing, the details, terminology, definitions of poverty and other criteria for allocation vary.

Mainland China

In mainland China, the government provides public housing through various sources, such as new housing, abandoned properties, and old flats which are rented at a very low price and called 'Lian Zu Fang' (literally 'low-rent house'or 'low-rent housing', Chinese: 廉租房). Additional housing is built by providing free land and exemption from fees to estate developers: the resulting houses are called 'Jing Ji Shi Yong Fang' (literally 'the economically affordable Housing', Chinese: 经济适用房). The concept of the low-cost rest house can be traced to a 1998 policy statement, but did not truly take off until 2006 due to limited funding and administrative problems.

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, the government provides public housing through flats which are rented at a lower price than the markets, and through the Home Ownership Scheme
Home Ownership Scheme
The Home Ownership Scheme is a subsidized-sale programme of public housing in Hong Kong managed by the Hong Kong Housing Authority...

, which are sold at a lower price. These are built and administered by the Hong Kong Housing Authority
Hong Kong Housing Authority
The Hong Kong Housing Authority is the main provider of public housing in Hong Kong. It was established in 1973 under the Housing Ordinance and is an agency of the Government of Hong Kong...

 and the Hong Kong Housing Society
Hong Kong Housing Society
The Hong Kong Housing Society or Housing Society for short, is the second largest public housing provider in Hong Kong . The HKHS is a non-governmental organization and non profit organization that was founded in 1948 by "members coming from all walks of life" with a donation of £14,000...

. Nearly half of Hong Kong population lives in public housing.


In Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

, the public housing program, particularly the planning and development of new public housing and the allocation of rental units and resale of existing ownership units, is managed by the Housing and Development Board. Day-to-day management of public housing communities has largely been delegated to Town (local community) Councils.

Most of the residential housing developments in Singapore are publicly governed and developed. Most of the residents in public housing are tenants under a 99 year lease agreement.

Since most Singaporeans reside in public housing, public housing in Singapore is not generally considered as a sign of poverty or lower standards of living as compared to public housing in other countries where land constraint is less of an issue and property pricing may be significantly cheaper. Property prices for the smallest public housing can often be higher than privately owned and developed standalone properties such as townhouses and apartments in other countries after currency correlation.


Gemeindebau (plural: Gemeindebauten) is a German word for "municipality building". In Austria, it refers to residential buildings erected by a municipality, usually to provide low-cost public housing. These have been an important part of the architecture and culture of Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

 since the 1920s


Finland may have had the first public housing. In 1909, four wooden houses designed by the architect A. Nyberg were built on Kirstinkuja (formerly Kristiinankatu) for the city’s workers. The residents were mainly working-class families with several children. The apartments had an average of five people per room, sometimes up to eight.
The tiny apartments were equipped with running water, a pantry and an attic cupboard. Every apartment had its own toilet in the cellar. Electric lighting was installed in 1918.

The homes and lives of worker families in Helsinki from 1909 to 1985 are presented in a museum near the Linnanmäki amusement park.


France has a long tradition of state intervention in the housing market. After World War II, the population increased at a rate previously unknown, the rural exodus increased, while war damage had reduced the number of houses in many cities. Rental prices dramatically rose, and the government made a law in 1949 to block them, effectively ending the economic benefits of housing investment. Additionally, construction was strictly regulated which made building very difficult without political support.

The government launched a huge construction plan, including the creation of new town
New town
A new town is a specific type of a planned community, or planned city, that was carefully planned from its inception and is typically constructed in a previously undeveloped area. This contrasts with settlements that evolve in a more ad hoc fashion. Land use conflicts are uncommon in new...

s ("villes nouvelles") and new suburbs with HLM
HLM , French for "housing at moderated rents" or "rent-controlled housing", is a form of subsidised housing in France. There are approximately four million such residences, housing an estimated 12 million people — nearly one-fifth of the population of France...

 (Habitation à Loyer Modéré, "low-rent housing"). The state had the money and the legal means to acquire the land
Eminent domain
Eminent domain , compulsory purchase , resumption/compulsory acquisition , or expropriation is an action of the state to seize a citizen's private property, expropriate property, or seize a citizen's rights in property with due monetary compensation, but without the owner's consent...

 and could provide some advantages to the companies that built its huge housing complexes of hundreds of apartments. Quality was also effectively regulated, resulting in decent or even top quality housing for the standard of the time (this was in the 1950s and 1960s). Political forces used the HLM weapon effectively, for the family that was given the opportunity to have an HLM could only be thankful to its local mayor; besides, a "communist" mayor was always happy to have as much HLM as possible, for their tenants were poorer and more likely to vote for him, while its "gaullist" neighbour was as much happy to see them leave.

HLM construction was also a major (and illegal) source of political financing: building companies had to pay back the political party of the mayor that launched an HLM program. This resulted in corruption and some scandals.

France still retains this system, a recent law making it an obligation for every town to have at least 20% HLM. Nowadays HLM represents roughly half of the rental market.

While they succeeded in giving lower-income families a place to live, this system also led to the creation of suburban ghettos. There, deprived strata of the population, mostly of immigrant origin and suffering massive under-employment, were left to simmer away from the gentrified urban centres, sometimes becoming rife with social tensions and violence. Tackling this problem at its roots is all but simple, with a lack of success despite many plans, so that a blind "law-and-order" attitude is now common in French internal politics, with few effective results and violent symptoms.


Between 1925 and 1930 Germany was the site of innovative and extensive municipal public housing projects, mostly in Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne
Cologne is Germany's fourth-largest city , and is the largest city both in the Germany Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and within the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan Area, one of the major European metropolitan areas with more than ten million inhabitants.Cologne is located on both sides of the...

 and Frankfurt am Main. These Siedlungen (settlements), were made necessary by the dreadful living conditions of pre-war urban tenements. The right to a healthy dwelling was written into the 1919 Weimar Constitution
Weimar constitution
The Constitution of the German Reich , usually known as the Weimar Constitution was the constitution that governed Germany during the Weimar Republic...

, but few dwellings were built until economic stability in 1925.

These settlements were low-rise, no more than 5 stories, and in suburban settings. Residents were provided access to light, air, and sun. The size, shape, orientation and architectural style of Germany's public housing were informed by the recent experience of the Vienese and the Dutch, the anti-urban Garden City Movement
Garden city movement
The garden city movement is a method of urban planning that was initiated in 1898 by Sir Ebenezer Howard in the United Kingdom. Garden cities were intended to be planned, self-contained communities surrounded by "greenbelts" , containing proportionate areas of residences, industry and...

 in Britain, by new industrialized mass-production and pre-fabrication building techniques, by the novel use of steel and glass, and by the progressive-liberal policies of the Social Democrats.

Architect Martin Wagner
Martin Wagner (architect)
Martin Wagner was a German architect, city planner, and author, best known as the driving force behind the construction of modernist housing projects in interwar Berlin.- Germany :...

 (with Bruno Taut
Bruno Taut
Bruno Julius Florian Taut , was a prolific German architect, urban planner and author active during the Weimar period....

) was responsible for the thousands of dwellings built in and around Berlin, including the Horseshoe Siedlung (named for its shape), and Uncle Tom's Cabin Siedlung (named for a local restaurant). But Wagner was second to the city planner Ernst May
Ernst May
Ernst May was a German architect and city planner.May successfully applied urban design techniques to the city of Frankfurt am Main during Germany's Weimar period, and in 1930 less successfully exported those ideas to Soviet Union cities, newly created under Stalinist rule...

 in Frankfurt. May was responsible for the construction of 23 separate settlements, 15,000 total units, in five years. He ran his own sizable research facility to investigate, for instance, air-flow in various floorplan configurations, construction techniques, etc. The Austrian architect Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky
Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky
Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky was the first female Austrian architect and an activist in the Nazi resistance movement. She is mostly remembered today for designing the so-called Frankfurt Kitchen.-Training:...

 applied the principles of Taylorism to the kitchen workspace and developed the Frankfurt kitchen
Frankfurt kitchen
The Frankfurt kitchen was a milestone in domestic architecture, considered the fore-runner of modern fitted kitchens, for it realised for the first time a kitchen built after a unified concept, designed to enable efficient work and to be built at low cost...

 while working for Ernst May.

Beyond technical research May also published two magazines and embarked on a significant public-relations project, with films and classes and public exhibitions, to make Neues Bauen acceptable to the public. In the late 1920s the principles of equal access to "Licht, Luft und Sonne" and the social effects of a guaranteed ""Existenzminimum" became a matter of lively popular debate all over Germany. One indirect result of this publicity was the American housing movement: a young Catherine Bauer attended one of May's conferences in 1930, and wrote her seminal "Modern Housing" based on research done in Frankfurt and with Dutch architect JJP Oud.

Increasing pressure from the rising Nazis
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 brought this era to an end in 1933. A majority of the German public housing experts had Social Democrat or Communist sympathies and were forced out of the country.


In the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, the rent for the cheaper rental homes is kept low through governmental oversight and regulation. These types of homes are known as sociale huurwoningen.

In practice this is accomplished by non-profit private housing foundations or associations (toegelaten instellingen). Due to frequent mergers the number of these organizations dropped to around 430 (2009). They manage 2.4 million dwellings. The majority of the low-rent apartments in the Netherlands are owned by such organisations. Since the policy changes in 1995 the social housing organizations have become financially independent focusing on their role as social entrepreneurs. In most Dutch municipalities there came to exist a certain minimum capacity of social housing throughout the last decades. In many cities such as Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

, The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

, Rotterdam
Rotterdam is the second-largest city in the Netherlands and one of the largest ports in the world. Starting as a dam on the Rotte river, Rotterdam has grown into a major international commercial centre...

 and Utrecht
Utrecht (city)
Utrecht city and municipality is the capital and most populous city of the Dutch province of Utrecht. It is located in the eastern corner of the Randstad conurbation, and is the fourth largest city of the Netherlands with a population of 312,634 on 1 Jan 2011.Utrecht's ancient city centre features...

 the percentage of social housing approaches or even passes 50 percent. The public (financial) supervision is done by the central fund for housing (Centraal Fonds Volkshuisvesting).

The Dutch housing policy is based on a concept of universal access to affordable housing for all and the prevention of segregation.


In Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

, public housing and halting site
Halting site
A halting site is a facility constructed for the accommodation of Irish Travellers and other nomadic groups. They are common in Ireland, mainly on the periphery of towns, where they are maintained by local authorities, and include spaces to park caravans and vehicles, electricity and sanitary...

s (sites used by semi-nomadic Traveller
Irish Traveller
Irish Travellers are a traditionally nomadic people of ethnic Irish origin, who maintain a separate language and set of traditions. They live predominantly in the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States.-Etymology:...

 communities) have been built by Local Authorities and are known as Local Authority Accommodation
Local Authority Accommodation
Local Authority Accommodation is the name given to a form of Public housing provided in Ireland by various County Councils and City Corporations along with Urban District Councils...

. Dublin Corporation
Dublin Corporation
Dublin Corporation , known by generations of Dubliners simply as The Corpo, is the former name given to the city government and its administrative organisation in Dublin between 1661 and 1 January 2002...

 and the former Dublin County Council
Dublin County Council
Dublin County Council was a local authority for the administrative county of County Dublin in the Republic of Ireland. It was established by the Local Government Act 1898....

 provided the lion's share of Irish Local Authority Housing, with County Longford
County Longford
County Longford is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Midlands Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Longford.Longford County Council is the local authority for the county...

 having the largest ratio of Local Authority to private housing in the state. Ireland has promoted tenant purchase on favourable terms, and many former social housing areas are now completely or almost completely privately owned.

Former Soviet Union

In the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, most of the houses built after World War II were usually 3–5 stories high, with small apartments. In these boroughs, the goal was saving space and creating as many apartments as possible. Construction starting in the 1970s favored 9- and 16-story concrete panel municipal housing in major cities, 7–12 stories in smaller urban areas.


The aversive mentality of the Spaniards to rental houses and government spending cuts in the 1980s have dropped rented public housing in Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 to a minimum. Rented public houses were relatively common in the Francisco Franco (1936–75) era. With the advent of democracy
History of Spain (1975–present)
For all intents and purposes, the history of modern Spain began with the death of dictator Francisco Franco on the 20 November 1975, the accession of King Juan Carlos I to the throne and the establishment of the parliamentary monarchy...

 and the 1978 Constitution
Spanish Constitution of 1978
-Structure of the State:The Constitution recognizes the existence of nationalities and regions . Preliminary Title As a result, Spain is now composed entirely of 17 Autonomous Communities and two autonomous cities with varying degrees of autonomy, to the extent that, even though the Constitution...

, the management of social housing depended mostly on the Autonomous regions
Autonomous communities of Spain
An autonomous community In other languages of Spain:*Catalan/Valencian .*Galician .*Basque . The second article of the constitution recognizes the rights of "nationalities and regions" to self-government and declares the "indissoluble unity of the Spanish nation".Political power in Spain is...

. This resulted in a wide variety of laws, which make the issue highly dependent on the region. In spite of this, a scheme for viviendas de protección oficial (VPO) has been widely used, consisting of Local Councils allowing for building contractors and developing companies to build in public sites or with public loans on condition that a certain percentage of apartments remain subsidized and under control of the local authorities. This is known as VPO de promoción privada, as opposed to the VPO de promoción pública, in which the whole property is owned and managed by a government authority. A new plan ("Plan estatal español de vivienda y rehabilitación para el período 2009-2012") was put forward by the Rodríguez Zapatero
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero is a member of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party . He was elected for two terms as Prime Minister of Spain, in the 2004 and 2008 general elections. On 2 April 2011 he announced he will not stand for re-election in 2012...

 government, aiming to make near a million homes available for public housing, relying both on new construction and refurbishment of unused houses.


The Million Programme
Million Programme
The Million Programme is the common name for an ambitious housing programme implemented in Sweden between 1965 and 1974 by the governing Swedish Social Democratic Party to make sure everyone could have a home at a reasonable price. The aim of the programme was to build a million new dwellings in a...

 (Miljonprogrammet) is the familiar term for an ambitious housing programme implemented in Sweden between 1965 and 1974 with the aim of building one million new dwellings in 10 years; in the beginning strongly influenced by the "Garden City" developments in England during the 40's – 50's, but towards the end the developments were mostly built as single family homes along curving streets and cul-de-sacs and/or as immense tower blocks, similar to many residential districts built in Eastern Europe. Most were built detached from pre-existing neighbourhoods, often some distance from the existing urban areas and connected via mass transit to the older developments and city centre.

A common misconception of the Million Programme is that most (or all) of the residentials are tower blocks of concrete. In fact, the majority of the housing stock consists of apartment buildings with three or fewer floors, terraced houses and one-family homes.

The Swedish public housing is called 'Allmännyttigt bostadsföretag' which is mostly made out of flats owned by the local council. There are no economic restrictions for such housing though the majority of the inhabitants are of low-income statues.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom public housing is often referred to by the British public as "council housing
Council house
A council house, otherwise known as a local authority house, is a form of public or social housing. The term is used primarily in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. Council houses were built and operated by local councils to supply uncrowded, well-built homes on secure tenancies at...

" and "council estate", based on the historical role of district and borough councils in running public housing. Local semi-independent non-profit housing Organisations began to operate large numbers of social housing properties since the 1970s in the United Kingdom. Housing Associations are now referred to as "Private Registered Providers of Social Housing" (PRPs). Despite being non-profit based, they charge generally higher rents than council properties. However, in England, the Government has introduced its rent re-structuring policy, which aims to bring council and RSL rents into line by 2012. Since 1996, public housing has been referred to as "Social Housing" to encompass council and RSLs. Additionally local planning departments may require private-sector developers to offer "affordable housing" as a condition of planning permission
Planning permission
Planning permission or planning consent is the permission required in the United Kingdom in order to be allowed to build on land, or change the use of land or buildings. Within the UK the occupier of any land or building will need title to that land or building , but will also need "planning...

. This accounts for another £700m of Government funding each year for tenants in part of the United Kingdom.
Local Authorities have been discouraged from building council housing since 1979. The Parker Morris
Parker Morris Committee
The Parker Morris Committee drew up an influential 1961 report on housing space standards in public housing in the United Kingdom titled Homes for Today and Tomorrow. The report concluded that the quality of social housing needed to be improved to match the rise in living standards and made a...

 standard was abolished for those that were built, resulting in smaller room sizes and fewer facilities. And the Right to Buy
Right to buy scheme
The Right to buy scheme is a policy in the United Kingdom which gives tenants of council housing the right to buy the home they are living in. Currently, there is also a right to acquire for the tenants of housing associations...

 was introduced, resulting in the move of some of the best stock from public tenanted to private owner occupation.

During the decade of the 2000s, "choice based letting" (CBL) was introduced to help ensure social housing was occupied speedily as tenants moved, but this can still favour the local over the non-local prospective tenant. In a number of local authority areas, due to the shortage of council housing three out of four properties may be designated for priority cases (those living in poor overcrowded conditions, with medical or welfare needs, or needing family support) or homeless applicants in order to meet the councils’ legal obligations to rehouse people in need. The percentage of properties set aside for vulnerable groups will vary dependent on the demand for council housing in the area. All Local Authorities have a Housing Strategy to ensure that council houses are let fairly and fulfil the council's legal obligations; deal with people in need; and contribute to sustainability of housing estates, neighbourhood regeneration, and social inclusion.

The 1997–2010 Labour Government wished to move Council Housing away from Local Authority management. At first, this was through Large Scake Voluntary Transfers (LSVT)of stock from council's to Housing Associations (HAs). Not all council property could be transferred, as in some local authorities, their housing stock was in poor condition and had a capital value less than the remaining debts from construction costs—in effect, the council stock was in negative equity. And in some Local Authorities, the tenants rejected the transfer option (e.g., in Camden (London) and Birmingham).

The Labour Government introduced a "third way": the Arms Length Management Organisation
Arms Length Management Organisation
Arms Length Management Organisations or arm's length management organisations are UK not-for-profit companies set up by a local authorities primarily to manage and improve all or part of their housing stock. Ownership of the housing stock itself normally stays with the local authority...

 (ALMO), where the housing stock stays with the Local Authority but is managed by a not-for-profit organisation at arm's length from the Local Authority. It also introduced the Decent Homes
Decent Homes Standard
The Decent Homes Standard is a technical standard for public housing introduced by the United Kingdom government. It underpinned the Decent Homes Programme brought in by the Blair-Brown government which aimed to provide a minimum standard of housing conditions for all those who are housed in the...

 programme, a capital fund to bring social housing up to a modern physical standard. To use this fund, the manager, whether ALMO or HA, had to achieve a 2 or 3 star rating from its inspection by the Audit Commission
Audit Commission
The Audit Commission is a public corporation in the United Kingdom.The Commission’s primary objective is to improve economy, efficiency and effectiveness in local government, housing and the health service, directly through the audit and inspection process and also through value for money...

. This was intended to drive up management standards. Council landlords cannot access this funding, another incentive to transfer management of council housing to an ALMO or HA.

Governments since the early 1990s have also encouraged "mixed tenure
Housing tenure
Housing tenure refers to the financial arrangements under which someone has the right to live in a house or apartment. The most frequent forms are tenancy, in which rent is paid to a landlord, and owner occupancy. Mixed forms of tenure are also possible....

" in regeneration areas and on "new-build" housing estates, offering a range of ownership and rental options, with a view to engineering social harmony through including "social housing" and "affordable housing
Affordable housing
Affordable housing is a term used to describe dwelling units whose total housing costs are deemed "affordable" to those that have a median income. Although the term is often applied to rental housing that is within the financial means of those in the lower income ranges of a geographical area, the...

" options. A recent research report has argued that the evidence base for tenure mixing remains thin.

Most UK social housing tenants have the right to swap homes with another tenant even if their landlords are different. This is called a "mutual exchange
Mutual exchange
The term mutual exchange describes the ability of two tenants in the social housing sector in the UK to move house by swapping their homes. . Other terms used for this are "home swap" or "homeswap".-Mutual exchange process:...



In Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, public housing is usually a block of purpose-built subsidized housing operated by a government agency, often simply referred to as projects or community housing, with easier-to-manage town houses. Canada, especially Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, still maintains large high-rise clustered developments in working class neighborhoods, a system that has fallen into disfavor in both the UK and US. However, Toronto Community Housing
Toronto Community Housing Corporation
Toronto Community Housing Corporation is a public housing agency in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and is the second-largest housing provider in North America. TCHC is the amalgamation of three housing organizations in Toronto following the downloading of housing to municipalities by the provincial...

, one of the largest public housing agencies in North America, has a variety of buildings and communities ranging from individual houses to townhouse communities and mid-rise and high-rise apartments in both working class and middle class neighbourhoods. They house low-income Canadians.

Following the decentralisation of public housing to local municipalities, Social Housing Services Corporation
Social Housing Services Corporation
The Social Housing Services Corporation was created in the Province of Ontario in 2002 to provide group services for social housing providers following the downloading of responsibility for over 270,000 social housing units to local municipalities...

 (SHSC) was created in the Province of Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

 in 2002 to provide group services for social housing providers (public housing, non-profit housing
Non-profit housing
Non-profit housing is housing owned and managed by a private, non-profit group such as a church, an ethnocultural community or by a government. Non-profit housing can use both private funds and government subsidies to support a rent-geared-to-income program for low-income tenants....

 and co-operative housing). It is a non-profit corporation which provides Ontario housing providers and service managers with bulk purchasing, insurance, investment and information services that add significant value to their operations.

Recently, there has been a move toward the integration of public housing with market housing and other uses. Revitalization plans for properties such as in the notorious Downtown Eastside
Downtown Eastside
The Downtown Eastside is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and is known as "Canada's poorest postal code"....

 of Vancouver
Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is the hub of Greater Vancouver, which, with over 2.3 million residents, is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country,...

, and Regent Park
Regent Park
Regent Park is a neighbourhood located in Old Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Regent Park is Canada's oldest and largest social housing project; built in the late 1940s. Formerly the centre of the Cabbagetown neighbourhood, it is bounded by Gerrard Street East to the north, River Street to the east,...

 and Lawrence Heights
Lawrence Heights
Lawrence Heights is a neighbourhood in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is located north-west of central Toronto, in the district of North York. The neighbourhood is bounded by Lawrence Avenue to the south, Highway 401 to the north, Allen Road to the east and Dufferin Street to the west...

 in Toronto, aim to provide better accommodations for low-income residents, and connect them to the greater community. In Toronto, for instance, the aims of the reconstruction plans of Regent Park are to better integrate it into the traditional grid of streets, improve leisure and cultural amenities, and construct mixed-income buildings. However, the residents of these communities have had little effective input in the plans and have had mixed reactions to the construction.

A plan to house Vancouver's homeless is taking shape on the drawing board of a local architect. It calls for the rapid erection of temporary villages assembled from the same type of modular units that mining companies provide for remote workers. "Stop Gap Shelters" is what architect Gregory Henriquez
Gregory Henriquez
Gregory Henriquez is a Canadian architect, best known for the design of community-based mixed-use, institutional and social housing projects in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, Canada...

 calls it. "All of us in this community have long been advocates for permanent housing," he said. "But we've gotten to the point where the numbers of homeless are so staggering that I'm left wondering if we will ever catch up doing it that way. I don't think we can. I think there has to be a stop-gap measure. And that's what this is." Henriquez drew up plans for a motel-like village, with 48 suites clustered around a central courtyard. The colourful compound includes a managers' office, a covered patio, and a second storey meeting room all within a typical 120-by-200-foot city lot.

United States

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, government involvement in housing for the poor was chiefly in the introduction of buildings standards. New York City's First Houses, dedicated in 1935, were the nation's first public housing project. Most housing communities were developed from the 1930s onward and initial public housing was largely slum
A slum, as defined by United Nations agency UN-HABITAT, is a run-down area of a city characterized by substandard housing and squalor and lacking in tenure security. According to the United Nations, the percentage of urban dwellers living in slums decreased from 47 percent to 37 percent in the...

 clearance, with the requirement insisted upon by private builders that for every unit of public housing constructed, a unit of private housing would be demolished. This also eased concerns of the establishment by eliminating or altering neighborhoods commonly considered a source of disease, and reflected progressive-era sanitation initiatives. Moreover, public housing along with the Federal Highway Program demolished the older, sub-standard housing of communities of color across the United States. However, the advent of make-shift tent communities during the Great Depression caused concern in the Administration. Public housing in its earliest decades was usually much more working-class and middle-class and white than it was by the 1970s. Many Americans associate large, multi-story towers with public housing, but early projects were actually low-rise, though Le Corbusier
Le Corbusier
Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, better known as Le Corbusier , was a Swiss-born French architect, designer, urbanist, writer and painter, famous for being one of the pioneers of what now is called modern architecture. He was born in Switzerland and became a French citizen in 1930...

 superblocks caught on before World War II.

A unique US public housing initiative was the development of subsidized middle-class housing during the late New Deal
New Deal
The New Deal was a series of economic programs implemented in the United States between 1933 and 1936. They were passed by the U.S. Congress during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs were Roosevelt's responses to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call...

 (1940–42) under the auspices of the Mutual Ownership Defense Housing Division
Mutual Ownership Defense Housing Division
The Mutual Ownership Defense Housing Division of the Federal Works Agency part of the United States government, operating from about 1940 to 1942 under the leadership of Colonel Lawrence Westbrook, was an attempt by the United States Government, late in the New Deal, to respond to the housing needs...

 of the Federal Works Agency
Federal Works Agency
The Federal Works Agency was an independent agency of the Federal government of the United States which administered a number of public construction, building maintenance, and public works relief functions and laws from 1939 to 1949...

 under the direction of Colonel Lawrence Westbrook. These eight projects were purchased by the residents after the Second World War and as of 2009 seven of the projects continue to operate as mutual housing corporations owned by their residents. These projects are among the very few definitive success stories in the history of the US public housing effort. There are also many New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) efforts that have provided in-demand and inexpensive public housing for decades, see "Public Housing That Worked: New York in the Twentieth Century" by Nicholas Dagen Bloom for a rigorous examination of the U.S. public housing management agency with the country's most extensive holdings. Bloom's "Public Housing" dispels common U.S. public housing myths while detailing advances made by NYCHA
New York City Housing Authority
The New York City Housing Authority provides public housing for low- and moderate-income residents throughout the five boroughs of New York City. NYCHA also administers a citywide Section 8 Leased Housing Program in rental apartments...

, see also NYCHA's own website "Fact Sheet" for elucidation of the magnitude and scope of their work since 1934.

Public housing was only built with the blessing of the local government, and projects were almost never built on suburban greenfield
Greenfield land
Greenfield land is a term used to describe undeveloped land in a city or rural area either used for agriculture, landscape design, or left to naturally evolve...

s, but through regeneration of older neighborhoods. The destruction of tenement
A tenement is, in most English-speaking areas, a substandard multi-family dwelling, usually old, occupied by the poor.-History:Originally the term tenement referred to tenancy and therefore to any rented accommodation...

s and eviction of their low-income residents consistently created problems in nearby neighborhoods with "soft" real estate markets. Houses, apartments or other residential units are usually subsidized on a rent-geared-to-income (RGI) basis. Some communities have now embraced a mixed income, with both assisted and market rents, when allocating homes as they become available.

The federal
Federal government
The federal government is the common government of a federation. The structure of federal governments varies from institution to institution. Based on a broad definition of a basic federal political system, there are two or more levels of government that exist within an established territory and...

 Housing and Urban Development (HUD) department's 1993 HOPE VI
HOPE VI is a plan by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. It is meant to revitalize the worst public housing projects in the United States into mixed-income developments. Its philosophy is largely based on New Urbanism and the concept of Defensible space.The program began...

 program addressed concerns of distressed properties and blighted superblocks with revitalization and funding projects for the renewal of public housing to decrease its density and allow for tenants with mixed income levels. Projects continue to have a reputation for violence, drug
Recreational drug use
Recreational drug use is the use of a drug, usually psychoactive, with the intention of creating or enhancing recreational experience. Such use is controversial, however, often being considered to be also drug abuse, and it is often illegal...

 use, and prostitution, especially in New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Washington D.C as well as others leading to the passage of a 1996 federal "one strike you're out
One strike you're out
One strike, you're out is a colloquial term for a policy adhered to by public housing officials in the United States which requires tenants living in housing projects or otherwise receiving housing assistance from the federal government to be evicted if they, or any guest or visitor under their...

" law, enabling the eviction of tenants convicted of crimes, especially drug-related, or merely as a result of being tried for some crimes. Other attempts to solve these problems include the 1978 Section 8
Section 8 (housing)
Section 8 of the United States Housing Act of 1937 , as repeatedly amended, authorizes the payment of rental housing assistance to private landlords on behalf of approximately 3.1 million low-income households...

 Housing Program, which encourages the private sector to construct affordable homes, and subsidizes public housing. This assistance can be "project-based", subsidizing properties, or "tenant-based", which provides tenants with a voucher
A voucher is a bond which is worth a certain monetary value and which may be spent only for specific reasons or on specific goods. Examples include housing, travel, and food vouchers...

, accepted by some landlords.


Minha Casa Minha Vida (My House, My Life),the Brazilian government's social housing program, was launched in March 2009 with a budget of R$36 billion (US$18 billion) to build 1 million homes. The second stage of the program, included within the government Growth Acceleration Program (PAC - Programa de Aceleração do Crescimento) was announced in March 2010. This stage foresees the construction of a further 2 million homes.

Of the total 3 million homes, 1.6 million are for families earning between 0 and 3 times the monthly minimum wage (R$545); 1 million homes are allocated to families with salaries between 3 and 6 times the monthly minimum wage; and the remaining 400,000 homes are for families earning between 6 and 10 times the monthly minimum wage.
All funds for Minha Casa Minha Vida properties are provided by the Brazilian public bank, Caixa Econômica Federal. The bank finances development and provides mortgages for qualifying families.

In April 2011, the Minister for Planning, Miriam Belchior announced that 1 million homes were contracted for the Minha Casa Minha Vida in 2010 and that 500,000 homes would be delivered in 2011. The government budget for the programme was R$39 billion in 2010 and R$40.1 billion in 2011. Obelisk International
Obelisk International
Obelisk International is a private investment company specialising in investments in Brazil, with offices in Spain, Brazil and the UK. The company’s investments are property-based and include social housing within the Minha Casa Minha Vida programme...

 is an investment company associated with the project and involved in building homes in the state of Rio Grande do Norte.


At the end of the Second World War, enriched by US investments and an oil boom, Mexico had its first demographic boom, in which the primary destination for rural immigrants was Mexico City. Mario Pani Darqui, a famous architect at time, was charged to build its first big scale project. The Conjunto Urbano Tlatelolco Nonoalco
Unidad Habitacional Nonoalco-Tlatelolco
The Unidad Habitacional Nonoalco-Tlatelolco is the largest apartment complex in Mexico, located in the Cuautemoc borough of Mexico City. It was built in the 1960s by architect Mario Pani. Originally, the complex had 102 apartment buildings, with its own schools, hospitals, stores and more, to make...

 was meant to develop one of the poorest parts of the city, Santiago Tlatelolco
Tlatelolco (Mexico City)
Tlatelolco is an area in the Cuauhtémoc borough of Mexico City, centered on the Plaza de las Tres Culturas, a square surrounded on three sides by an excavated Aztec archaeological site, a 17th century church called Templo de Santiago, a former convent, and office complexes that used to belong to...

, which was becoming a slum. Unfortunately, after a while, instead of giving the residences to the previous residents of Tlatelolco, corruption took place and most of the dwellings were handed to state employees.

After this, Pani was in charge of the Multifamiliar Presidente Alemán, another states' men housing, this time in a new suburb south of the city.
But after all, Mexico has had experience of housing projects since Porfirio Díaz
Porfirio Díaz
José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori was a Mexican-American War volunteer and French intervention hero, an accomplished general and the President of Mexico continuously from 1876 to 1911, with the exception of a brief term in 1876 when he left Juan N...

's regime, one of those, still remains and is the Bario of Loreto in San Ángel
San Ángel
San Ángel is a colonia or neighborhood of Mexico City, located in the southwest in Álvaro Óbregon borough. Historically, it was a rural community, called Tenanitla in the pre Hispanic period. Its current name is derived from the El Carmen monastery school called San Ángel Mártir...

, Álvaro Obregón, D.F.
Álvaro Obregón, D.F.
Álvaro Obregón is one of the 16 delegaciones into which Mexico's Federal District is divided. It contains a large portion of the south-west part of Mexico City. It had a 2010 census population of 727,034 inhabitants and lies at an elevation of 2,319 m...

, that was a project for a paper factory workers.


Public housing in Australia is usually provided by departments of state and territory
States and territories of Australia
The Commonwealth of Australia is a union of six states and various territories. The Australian mainland is made up of five states and three territories, with the sixth state of Tasmania being made up of islands. In addition there are six island territories, known as external territories, and a...

 governments, with funding provided by both state and federal governments. There are over 300,000 public housing dwellings in Australia, consisting of low-density housing on master-planned estates located in suburban areas, and also inner-city high-rise apartments in Melbourne and Sydney.

In recent decades, rooming and relief housing for the homeless has been privatised, and in recent years this housing has been sold off to avoid maintenance costs and capitalise on sales in a booming property market. In Melbourne, public housing stocks have been in decline for some time.

New Zealand

In New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

, public housing, known as state housing, was introduced by the Government in 1937 for citizens unable to afford private rents. Following WWII, most local authorities also started providing social housing, mainly for elderly people with low incomes.

See also

  • Abahlali baseMjondolo
    Abahlali baseMjondolo
    Abahlali baseMjondolo , also known as AbM or the red shirts is a shack-dwellers' movement in South Africa which is well known for its campaigning for public housing. The movement grew out of a road blockade organized from the Kennedy Road shack settlement in the city of Durban in early 2005 and now...

  • Affordable housing
    Affordable housing
    Affordable housing is a term used to describe dwelling units whose total housing costs are deemed "affordable" to those that have a median income. Although the term is often applied to rental housing that is within the financial means of those in the lower income ranges of a geographical area, the...

  • Council estate
  • Danchi
    is the Japanese word for a large cluster of apartment buildings of a particular style and design, typically built as public housing by a government authority.The Japan Housing Corporation , now known as the Urban Renaissance Agency , was founded in 1955...

    In 1978, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Office of Policy Development and Research established HUD USER, an information source for housing and community development researchers, academics, policymakers, and the American public.-Background on HUD USER:HUD USER is the primary...

  • Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse
    Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse
    The Regulatory Barriers Clearinghouse collects, processes, assembles, and disseminates information on existing barriers that inhibit the production and conservation of affordable housing. RBC is part of the U.S...

  • Social Housing Services Corporation
    Social Housing Services Corporation
    The Social Housing Services Corporation was created in the Province of Ontario in 2002 to provide group services for social housing providers following the downloading of responsibility for over 270,000 social housing units to local municipalities...

  • Subsidised housing
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