What is the role of housing in contemporary social policy and social development? Dissatisfied with the opaque role of housing in social policy studies, this chapter first looks at the historical connections between housing and economic development. Contrary to conventional social policy rhetoric, economists invariably confirm the positive role of housing policy in economic development, and suggest that it should occupy a more significant role in social development. The chapter then briefly evaluates the role played by international development bodies and suggested that they failed to develop policies fostering a better integration of housing and development. Other than the lack of leadership, a fundamental shift in housing policy favoring market allocation and privatization is attributed as a prime reason for policy failure. To resolve this, the chapter looks at the importance of housing as an asset and a wealth building vehicle in social development. Then borrowing John Rawls’s idea of a property owning democracy, the chapter concludes that an ex ante policy of home ownership by the state as a long run model of housing policy for both the developed and the developing world, in the context better achieving social justice.
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