The shift away from hierarchical forms of government to more porous forms of governance with regard to public assistance in developed nations, has reshaped lifetime experiences of housing under a range of policy regimes.
Governance is a signal feature of contemporary life and the delivery of programmes and services in developed economies, but it is a dimension of housing that has received relatively little explicit attention among housing researchers and policy-makers. The concept of ‘governance’ stands in contrast to established notions of government, in that it incorporates a broader range of actors in the delivery of social and economic well being, and generates a diffuse set of relationships and decision-making structures. Governance arrangements, in some respects, reduce the capacity of governments or the state to directly determine outcomes. On the other hand, they open up the potential for a wider range of outcomes that may be more effective in their reach because of the engagement of diverse stake holders. This article begins by considering the definition of governance before moving on to examine its evolution and expression in developed economies over recent decades. It notes that governance arrangements may differ between nations and systems of government, and considers the ways in which governance has been applied in a number of settings, including urban regeneration projects and the provision of social housing. The article then examines a number of examples of governance arrangements in the housing sphere, before concluding with a discussion of the implications for the future.