Housing beyond land rent?

A critique of market housing solutionism

Stefan Kipfer and Luisa Sotomayor

Published in Issue 6.1 // The Long Read

Keywords: Housing crisis, political economy of housing, social reproduction, zoning, urban planning


Toronto is in a housing crisis. Many residents lack access to adequate and affordable housing. In response, neoliberals and reformers have radicalized their advocacy for more market housing as the only possible alternative. Drawing attention to the role housing plays in the reproduction of labour power and the crisis-ridden dynamic of capital accumulation, we highlight the inability of market housing to meet a range of social needs. We tackle crucial weaknesses of the housing supply argument, including, first, its quantitative orientation; second, its impatience with those who defend existing housing options; third, its historical amnesia; fourth, its pop-economist (mis-)understanding of housing markets; fifth, its superficial critique of zoning, and sixth, its illusory embrace of seemingly alternative ways of organizing housing spatially: mixed-use and inclusionary zoning. Reflecting on the recent municipal by-election in Toronto, we also consider what it would take to shift course towards decommodified and decolonial housing futures.


Stefan Kipfer’s research and teaching is focused on politics, space and urbanization as well as marxist and anti-colonial theoretical traditions.

Luisa Sotomayor is an associate professor of urban planning. Her research examines urban inequalities from a governance, socio-legal and spatial planning perspective, including the role of housing and housing policies in the production of uneven urbanisms and everyday exclusions.

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