The End of an Era? Social Housing and Social Property in a Post-subsidy World
Cooper, Sarah EV
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This research explores the relationship between social housing, property and the state in a neoliberal and colonial context through the lens of social property. Social property is property that has been removed from the market for a social purpose. It is intended to provide security for all members of society, and is affordable and collectively sustained. Through a literature review and an examination of Canadian social housing policy, this research identifies the main characteristics of social property and the extent to which public, nonprofit and cooperative housing can be considered a form of social property. It then analyzes the challenges and opportunities facing social housing providers in Manitoba, Canada, as their operating and funding agreements with the state expire, in order to understand whether the housing can continue to be understood as ‘social’ in a post-agreement future. Finally, this research contextualizes the state’s changing nonprofit and cooperative social housing policy within the current trend towards commodification and marketization of housing. The expiring agreements change the relationships between housing providers, tenants and the state. As such, they also change the spaces of social housing, and the extent to which low-income and Indigenous households may belong in these spaces. The distinct form of property created through the social housing operating agreements is at risk of disappearing, though the full implications for the housing system in Canada remain to be seen.