This review provides a brief update of developments in social housing policies and national strategies in a cross‐section of developed countries since 2007. The countries included in the review are: Austria, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Netherlands, Scotland, Sweden (described collectively as European countries) and the United States of America. The time‐frame for this exercise is largely influenced by timing of the global economic downturn and credit crisis which has, in many countries, prompted fundamental policy shifts. With this in mind, the next part of this introductory chapter highlights some of the key features of the post‐2007 economic context for housing policy.

In selecting countries for inclusion in the review we have aimed to encompass a diversity of national social housing systems in countries with broadly similar economic and social profiles to Australia. Jurisdictions included are those where one or more of the contributing authors have direct knowledge of the social housing system and have recently conducted research on aspects of housing policy.

The review has been commissioned by Housing NSW to provide background information for the ongoing development of The Housing Strategy for New South Wales. It builds on and extends research funded by the City Futures Research Centre (UNSW), the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) and OTB TU Delft which is published in the following conference papers and reports: Lawson, Gilmour and Milligan (2010); Lawson (2009); Lawson and Milligan (2007); Milligan and Lawson (2008); Lawson and Nieboer (2009); Lawson, Berry, Yates and Milligan (2009); Milligan, Gurran, Lawson, Phibbs and Phillips (2009); and Hulse, Milligan and Easthope (2011). The report also draws on the UK Housing Review (Pawson & Wilcox, 2011 and forthcoming 2012) and on recently published material available online compiled by various research and sector organisations in a range of countries.

The report was prepared for Housing NSW, Department of Families and Communities, NSW Government in December 2011 and has been recently released

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