Abstract: Recent deliberative planning theory has developed the idea that partnerships between governments, the private sector, and community advocates are the best way to create innovative solutions to ‘wicked’ policy problems, such as affordable housing. The worst case scenario, however, is that these partnerships are merely a new version of urban growth machines: collusion between governments and private developers in which the basic right of citizens to shelter is ignored. This paper examines how key actors in the affordable housing industry work together in affordable housing partnerships. Our comparative focus is four mid-tier global cities within three neo-liberal countries that rely primarily on the private sector for their housing stock: Canada, the US and Australia. All four cities – Vancouver, Toronto, Portland, and Melbourne – are thriving economically, yet have poor housing affordability outcomes, including an increasing number of low and moderate income households who cannot afford rents or mortgage repayments. In each of the cities, seven to eight key housing actors have been interviewed and housing affordability policy and practices tracked through a desktop search. We compare recent partnerships for affordable housing, and perceived benefits of a partnership approach to affordable housing. This research suggests better affordable housing outcomes arise from a deliberative approach.