Public housing plays an essential role in Manitoba’s housing system. It provides a specific form of housing: decommodified housing that is affordable to low-income households. This means that it has been removed from the market by focusing on its use as a home, rather than on its potential for financial gain, and has low rents. Across Canada, public housing has provided good quality, affordable housing for decades (Silver 2011).
In many places across Canada and beyond, however, public housing is threatened by redevelopment, sale, or transfer to nongovernment organizations. The loss of public housing units is part of two broader trends: seeing housing as a private investment, rather than as a place to live (Rolnik 2013), and locating responsibility for social welfare in the market rather than in government (Bezanson 2006). These trends affect both current and prospective tenants, making access to housing more difficult for low-income households and households with particular housing needs.
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