February 19, 2019

Changing the Housing Story – the Shaping Futures report

The Shaping Futures project has explored the conventional housing policy narratives that have dominated government thinking
in Australia, Britain and Canada (the ABC countries) over the past 20-30 years.

Read the report, summary and chapters

Cover of the Shaping Futures Changing the Housing Story reportIt sought to construct more effective, progressive policy narratives robust enough to thrive within the tough competitive environments that prevail within public policymaking and budgetary processes. Each of the three Shaping Futures nations faces unique housing challenges but also share common problems:

  • Volatile housing markets where long-run price inflation has contributed to unusually high levels of private debt.
  • Falling home ownership rates among younger adult cohorts.
  • Rising rates of homelessness and housing stress exacerbated by inadequate public investment in affordable housing.

The report contains ten principles for housing policy and tax reform intended to provide a coherent framework for reforming housing policies.

The policy proposals reflect the need for an enduring framework of consensual approaches that form a path towards better performing housing systems in all three countries. Ignoring this progressive path would risk unacceptable costs in lost productivity, increased inequality and environmental degradation.

Key messages from Changing the Housing Story

  • Despite visible and worsening housing problems apparent in all three countries – Australia, Britain and Canada – housing
    policy has been downgraded and housing policymaking capacity badly eroded.
  • There is increasing recognition that post-1980s housing policy orthodoxies and their underlying narratives are no longer fit for purpose.
  • System-wide analysis of complex housing markets is essential in formulating evidence-informed policy solutions.
  • We need to construct a new story that places economic productivity and the effective management of pressured metropolitan markets at the heart of a re-energised housing policy.

Read the report

Download each chapter

Join the debate

It is essential that local communities, non-profits, housing association boards and other key stakeholders reflect on and debate
the ideas, the evidence and the call for reform contained here.

We invite you to draw on the materials we use in the main report, in particular, the national housing stories for the UK, Canada and Australia and use these to frame discussions:

  1. Thinking of current and longer term problems in your housing market, can you list and prioritise the most serious facing your community?
  2. The current state of housing policies and practice in your jurisdiction. How much of a priority is housing and is this changing?
  3. What is your community’s consensus vision for future housing policies, what needs to be done to achieve this and what should be done first?
  4. How far do you agree with our proposed ten principles for reform? What would you change?

Please send us a summary of your discussions – Policy Scotland – and we can share them on this website.




The report was launched in Australia in March 2019

More resources

Housing policy reset is overdue, and not only in Australia – Article by report authors Professor Duncan Maclennan and Professor Hal Pawson.