Proposals for expanding the place of non-market housing in solutions to address the growing affordability crisis are prominent in policy debates and media commentaries alongside proposed strategies aimed at the market housing sector to increase supply and bring down price. In itself, advocacy for non-market housing as an appropriate response to needs not met by the market is not new, as subsidized public housing supplemented by non-profit housing has been a feature of affordable housing programs since the early day of housing policy. Over the course of nearly a century of changes in policy and funding, the non-market housing landscape in Canada and the United States has become variegated in type and delivery mechanisms, and has come to play a larger role. Now, non-market housing is being proposed no merely as a marginal palliative intervention aimed at those who cannot access market housing, but as a path to systemic change in the housing market that will transform it into a system that meets the housing needs of all. Canada’s federal government is responding to calls to strengthen the capacity of the nonmarket sector with financial and institutional support, and municipal affordable housing strategies often include actions to expand the non-market housing supply. However, the acknowledged importance of non-market housing as a source of permanently affordable and secure housing that is key to solving the housing crisis tends to recede into the background in local debates on housing affordability that often become acrimonious over issues of density, neighbourhood character and property values; non-market housing projects often encounter the same kind of opposition as market housing projects. The paper examines the place of non-market initiatives in municipal affordable housing strategies, and explores municipal innovations in creating and protecting non-market housing that suggest direction for expanding the non-market housing stock.
Non-Market Housing as a Policy Objective in Municipal Affordable Housing Strategies