Fall 2022 - URB 665 G100

Urban Housing Policy (4)

Class Number: 6773

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 7 – Dec 6, 2022: Mon, 5:30–9:20 p.m.



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, documentaries, etc.


  • What is housing and why is housing important?
  • Writing policy memo and policy brief
  • The political foundation of housing policy: A political economy approach
  • The economic foundation of housing issues: Housing as a commodity
  • Making sense of homeownership
  • Housing vulnerable groups: Non-market housing and social housing policy
  • Rethinking housing vulnerability and inequality
  • Neighborhood outcomes: Socio-spatial polarization and gentrification
  • International investment and housing market
  • Housing in comparative perspective: Housing issues in global cities


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

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


  • Class participation 15%
  • Group policy analysis 30%
  • Reading presentation and reflection (individual) 20%
  • Class project 35%



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


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

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 website 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