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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Stephen Tuffner

An Analysis of Social Housing Infrastructure Development

Mixed-income redevelopment of public housing projects is a controversial topic
amongst academics and planners. While some advocate for the strategy as a way to
improve neighbourhood quality, others insist that mixed-income redevelopment
disadvantages low-income residents of cities. I use the mixed-income redevelopment
of Toronto's Regent Park to measure changes in income amongst public housing
tenants currently living through the revitalisation of their neighbourhood. The
analysis, which includes tenants awaiting relocation as part of the redevelopment and
tenants who have been relocated and returned to the neighbourhood. The analysis has
revealed a statistically significant increase in the incomes of public housing tenants
compared to the city as a whole over the course of the redevelopment to-date. This
change appears to have occurred largely thanks to increased investment in targeted
employment services in Regent Park, rather than to changes to the physical make-up
of the neighbourhood.

Based the analysis, I suggest three themes on which planners and developers of public
housing developments should focus: (1) Planning and Management; (2) Partnerships
and Service Provision; both of which are governed by (3) Tenant and Stakeholder
Engagement. The simplicity of this framework is intentional; it is intended to draw the
attention of planners to key factors for success of public housing developments while
remaining applicable where neighbourhood characteristics or funding opportunities,
for example, vary greatly.

Keywords: Public housing revitalisation; mixed-income development; Regent Park
Toronto, low-income housing.