City Futures Research Centre UNSW Built Environment

Presentation - Is it time for consensual approaches to minimum standards in housing?

Mark Stephens UNSW Housing Standards-1.png

This presentation was given at City Futures Research Centre by Mark Stephens, Professor of Public Policy and Director of The Urban Institute at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. 


Housing policy generally aims to secure "a decent home for every family at a price within their means." But what constitutes a "decent home"? Minimum standards for buildings and statutory definitions of overcrowding generally reflect professional opinion, even though the notion of a decent home is a social construct. This seminar reflects on the development of consensual approaches to establishing standards for deprivation and minimum income, and a recent attempt to extend the approach to housing standards. It concludes with an outline of work being undertaken for the UK Collaborative Housing Evidence Centre (CaCHE) which seeks to employ deliberative methods to three highly contested policy areas where government takes a view on the consumption of residential space. 


Mark's principal research interest lies in the relationship between poverty and housing and, in particular whether housing policy can act as a "corrective" to poverty and income inequality. He also has a long-standing interest in housing market institutions. Research projects under Mark's leadership have included the EU Study on Housing Exclusion (European Commission), the Evaluation of English Housing Policy (UK Government), and housing and Poverty over the Lifecourse (JRF). Mark is a Co-Investigator on the Glasgow-led ESRC Collaborative Housing Research Centre, a co-editor of the UK Housing Review, and a member of the AHURI Peer Review Panel. He was founding Editor of the European (now International) Journal of Housing Policy (2001-09).