Launch of C4C Housing Systems & Innovation Lab
(19 December 2023)
The Centre for Cities is pleased to announce the launch of its Housing Systems and Innovation Lab, with initial financial support provided by Libro Credit Union. The housing crisis in Canada has been acknowledged by all levels of government. The urgency is magnified in Windsor-Essex due to the rapid rise of the housing affordability crisis and the expected influx of thousands of workers for the new electric vehicle (EV) battery plant. There is a genuine risk that hastily scaling up an already flawed system may lead to inappropriate building types and land use patterns, causing long-term consequences for climate, public health, equity, and municipal finance.
To effectively address the crisis, housing research and innovation must adopt a systemic perspective and focus on real solutions. The C4C Housing Systems Innovation Lab is built on this organizing principle.
Municipalities play a central role in tackling the housing crisis, but conflicting interests among stakeholders including homeowners, developers, planners, and advisory committees often hinder the approval and production of much-needed dense affordable housing. Local housing production planning systems and interactions between private developers and municipalities often lack cohesion, resulting in inefficient spending and failure to produce an adequate number of housing units. Developer-driven development applications also tend to prioritize the familiar model of suburban, single-family dwellings on greenfield land.
While much-needed provincial and federal funding has been allocated to municipalities to support affordable housing solutions, financial support alone will not lead to increased housing production. Without a systemic shift, the money may not only be insufficient but could also result in harmful impacts for generations.
The C4C Housing Lab is organized around a singular systems approach to efficient and appropriate housing production. By empowering municipalities to act as developers, the model aims to return planning power to cities’ hands, facilitating the construction of more suitable housing in form and scale, at a pace aligned with the pressing housing crisis. Tools such as target market analysis (TMA), efficient and early public consultation, and financial incentives for developers to build within the established footprint of the city all form part of the Lab’s systems approach. All activities of the Housing Lab will be grounded in this comprehensive model.
(Associate Professor, Windsor Law)
C4C Project Manager and Strategic Advisor
(former City of Windsor Councilor and past chair of the City’s Planning Committee)
(Architect, Archive Design Studio, Detroit)
C4C Visiting Fellow
(Development Director, Michigan State Land Bank)