Financialization and Housing

A social innovation approach to housing affordability

Can social innovation help tackle the housing crisis?

In partnership with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), with support from the Vancity Community Foundation, Social Innovation Canada (SI Canada) conducted a directed social innovation lab to address the pressing issue of housing affordability for those in core housing need.

The Financialization of Housing Lab was part of CMHC’s Solutions Lab program. It co-designed and co-developed innovative, bottom-up solutions to complex housing problems that are of high priority with the National Housing Strategy. 

Goals and Objectives:

The goal of the lab was twofold:

1.Understand the effects of the financialization of housing—the application of financial instruments by institutions and investors in local housing markets— on housing affordability for those with core housing need. The lab gained valuable insights into this pressing issue through in-depth research and stakeholder engagement.

2.The lab was dedicated to supporting the prototyping of solutions that address the impacts of financialization on housing affordability. The lab identified viable solutions and roadmaps for their implementation and scaling.

The Discovery Phase

We engaged with over 100+ participants from various sectors in the Discovery phase through individual and group interviews. Additionally, we conducted extensive secondary research, including a comprehensive literature review of policy and academic documents, and analyzed historical datasets. The findings of this work were compiled in a comprehensive report published in December 2021.


The Prototyping Phase

During the Prototyping phase, a diverse group of 60+ stakeholders emerged and self-organized into six “clusters” or working groups. Each group focused on specific problem areas related to the financialization of housing. Collaboratively, the project teams worked with participants to identify, develop, and prototype innovative solutions. 

2021 Financialization and Housing Report
2023 Financialization and Housing Report

Social Innovation Canada (SI Canada) has been working to find and amplify solutions to the housing affordability crisis in Canada. In addition to identifying trends related to financialization, our research analyzes mortgages, home ownership and rental markets. There are a number of mechanisms and initiatives various levels of government, communities and organizations have launched to make housing more accessible and attainable. We are inspired by these efforts as we pursue our latest work on the Transit Oriented Affordable Housing (TOAH) Lab.

Learn how communities across Canada are addressing unique needs, in order to build more equitable and inclusive neighbourhoods.

What Works Report Non-Market Housing Cases from the Field

We're tackling the housing puzzle with social innovation