Spring 2021 - URB 665 G100

Urban Housing Policy (4)

Class Number: 4597

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 5:30 PM – 9:20 PM

    5:30 PM – 9:20 PM
    HCC 1900, Vancouver



Examination of the roles of housing in an urban society, the evolution of urban housing policy in Canada, the policies that shape the existing housing system, and proposals for modifying housing policies and programs. The role of affordable housing as an essential component of a sustainable community will be emphasized.


Housing crisis is a global issue, with cities around the world facing growing challenges of housing affordability, homelessness, and housing inequality, among other issues. Is housing conceived as a good or a service? How are various groups affected by housing policies? Can housing be viewed as a means for social justice and equality, and if so, how? This course will look at these questions by examining a wide range of social issues and policies related to urban housing, with a focus on Canada. Examples will also be drawn from other developed and developing countries as appropriate. Course content includes the evolution of Canada’s housing system and policies, the role of government in shaping housing outcomes, and access to housing for diverse social groups. Special topics such as community issues, gentrification, homelessness, affordability, and social housing will be discussed. Students will be encouraged to understand housing from the perspectives of public policy, political economy, sociology, and geography. Classes will have a combination of lectures, class discussions, student-led presentations and discussion, movie screenings, etc.

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Understand Canada’s housing system and its problems
  2. Build the foundations of scholarly and policy debates on the nature and causes of the housing problems
  3. Understand structural and systematic forces underlying housing stratification
  4. Cultivate skills of critical thinking and conduct evidence-based research


  • What is housing, and why is housing important?
  • Pandemics and housing
  • The political foundation of housing policy
  • The economic foundation of housing policy
  • A historical overview of Canada’s housing system
  • Non-market housing and social housing development
  • Housing for vulnerable groups
  • Gentrification and neighbourhood outcomes
  • Housing in comparative perspective: Housing issues in global cities

Planned Face to Face Activities
There is one face-to-face activity for this course planned for January 13.
Students should consider these plans and dates as tentative and subject to confirmation by the instructor in the course syllabus (which students will receive on the first day of classes) as well as subject to any provincial public health restrictions in effect at the time.





  • Class participation 15%
  • Group policy analysis 35%
  • Reading presentation and reflection 20%
  • Reflection essay in the form of a journal commentary 30%



Required readings will be available on Canvas. There is no textbook.

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in spring 2021 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).