Penny Gurstein


School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP)

Dr. Penny Gurstein is Professor and immediate past Director of the School of Community and Regional Planning and the Centre for Human Settlements at UBC. She specializes in the socio-cultural aspects of community planning with particular emphasis on those who are the most marginalized in planning processes. Her research focuses on developing strategies and interventions that encourage diversity, equity and urban sustainability in the planning and design of communities. Her current research is investigating strategies for affordable housing both in Canada and internationally.

She is founding Director of the Housing Research Collaborative a community of housing researchers, providers and policy makers focused on understanding systemic impediments in the housing system and the development of models to address housing unaffordability. She is the Principal Investigator of the Balanced Supply of Housing Node of the SSHRC-CMHC Collaborative Housing Research Network.

Previously, she was the Principal Investigator of the Future of Public Housing Project focusing on publically-assisted housing, and co-Principal Investigator of Housing Justice, a Peter Wall Solutions Initiative project, focusing on housing access and affordability.  Recent books include: Planning on the Edge: Vancouver and the Challenges of Reconciliation, Social Justice, and Sustainable Development Learning (co-edited with T. Hutton, 2019, UBC Press); Civil Societies: Shifting Contexts for Democratic Planning and Governance (co-edited with L. Angeles, 2007, U. of Toronto Press); and Wired to the World, Chained to the Home: Telework in Daily Life (2001, UBC Press). She has also worked on capacity building projects in developing countries focusing on gender and youth development issues most notably in Brazil and has considerable experience working with community groups in the greater Vancouver region.

Past research projects focused on youth engagement and "the hard to house". Other projects include two major studies funded by SSHRC. One, funded by SSHRC INE (Initiative on the New Economy) investigated the impact of e-work on companies and communities, in Canada and internationally ( The other, funded by SSHRC MCRI (Major Collaborative Research Initiative) looked at the impact of government reduction of social services on single parent families on income assistance.  

She is co-chair of the Pacific Housing Research Network and a registered member of the Canadian Institute of Planners. She is the 2016 recipient of the YWCA Women of Distinction Award for Education, Training and Development, and in 2018 was awarded the Faculty of Applied Science Dean's Medal of Distinction. Dr. Gurstein has been appointed to the Board of Commissioners of BC Housing Management Commission from 2018 to 2021.

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