Speculative Social Welfare: The Case of Housing

Authors: Martine August*, University of Waterloo
Topics: Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Social Geography
Keywords: Housing, Public Housing, Urbant Redevelopment, Gentrification, Planning, Welfare States
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Astor Ballroom I, Astor, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Welfare state restructuring in over the past four decades has involved reduced social spending, privatization, deregulation, and the introduction of neoliberal, market-oriented policies. Over the same period, gentrification has emerged as a key trend in restructuring urban space. This paper argues that these trends have become linked, with the emergence of what I call speculative social welfare – a shift in which state funding for social goods is replaced by proceeds from speculative development. With this trend, governments seek to initiate private development, and capture some of the resulting private profit to fund welfare state provisions in areas like education, healthcare, and housing. This paper focuses on housing, examining two cases in which speculative social welfare is supplanting state funding. The first explores redevelopment of Canada’s largest public housing community, in which funding for repairs and upgrades has been raised through private development initiated on public land in a context of gentrification, via ‘mixed-income’ redevelopment. The second case explores inclusionary zoning policies in New York City, where, private development is being initiated in low-income communities of colour that have yet to gentrify, via “rezoning” policies that will kick-start development (and gentrification) by allowing for higher-density buildings. The city’s goal is to require that a portion of new arket development be set aside as permanent affordable housing. The paper explores the downsides of relying on land and property speculation as a replacement for state funding, related to social and spatial equity, and the impacts of inevitable fluctuations in property markets.

Abstract Information

This abstract is already part of a session. View the session here.

To access contact information login