Social housing has been one of the few affordable housing alternatives in many countries. We’re talking truly affordable rental housing here, and we’re talking the massive quantities necessary to solve affordable housing crises. The term ‘social rent’ housing has indeed become a shorthand for describing rental costs at the lowest end of the affordability scale.
Social housing succeeds and prospers today in many European countries. In the United Kingdom it has been badly damaged by rent-to-own housing selloffs, and by ‘small government’ policies channelling affordable housing funds into public/private partnerships that are failing to deliver the needed quantities of social rent housing. In spite of that, UK social housing is far from dead, and there are strong signs of revival.
In the United States, social housing, a.k.a. public housing, is on life support, after decades of poor delivery execution and poor management all hidden behind blame-the-tenants finger-pointing. That’s to say nothing of the term ‘social’ which has a sulphurous whiff of ‘socialist’ about it — the bogeyman hiding under every aging American’s bed.
But there are other alternatives for the production of significant quantities of affordable housing, one of them being housing co-ops. For a look at the benefits of a yesteryear co-op heyday and its possible future, read more at TVO: Ontario may be headed for a new golden age of housing co-ops