Giving Back to Get Ahead: Development Industry Professional's Understandings of Public-Private Social Housing

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 09:30
Oral Presentation
Zachary HYDE, University of British Columbia, Canada
In recent years local governments in North America have increasingly turned to public-private partnerships with developers to create social housing in response to the ongoing retrenchment of the welfare state. This paper examines the tensions and contradictions of new approaches to developing social housing “through the market,” in a case study of two Canadian Cities, Toronto and Vancouver. Drawing from two years of ethnographic fieldwork in both cities as well as 97 interviews with developers, planners, politicians, NGOs and housing activists, I discuss the production and contestation of what I refer to as “ethical development regimes.” This urban regime type involves the use of density bonusing, or allowing excess height to condo developers, in exchange for units of social housing. Focusing on my interviews with developers I discuss how their understandings of “social responsibility” and philanthropy have become a mechanism for justifying surplus profit making. In doing so I advance the conversations around urban neoliberalism as well as what sociologist Emily Barman refers to as “caring capitalism.”