Houses and Homes: Housing for Canadians


272 pages
Contains Photos, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55028-436-3
DDC 363.5'0971





Reviewed by Christine Hughes

Christine Hughes is a policy analyst at the Ontario Native Affairs


This book provides a comprehensive review and assessment of some of the
important housing issues facing Canadians today. Individual chapters
deal with matters of affordability, housing need and the difficulty of
evaluating costs and benefits, tenure, neighborhood design,
home-ownership programs, social and public housing, and rent controls.
In recognition of the fact that not all Canadians are homeowners, Sewell
includes a chapter on homelessness, a trend that he attributes both to
the gentrification of older city homes by the middle class and to the
de-institutionalization of the mentally ill. He also addresses some of
the issues associated with rental properties.

He concludes the book with a chapter titled “Toward a Reform
Agenda.” Six principles are identified that could be used to help
shape the direction of housing policy in Canada. The various elements of
the proposed reforms are discussed in some detail and are useful because
they do not suggest one comprehensive package of changes, but rather
offer a range of options that could be implemented independent of each
other or tested as pilot projects. Sewell argues that governments must
recognize that an important goal in public-housing policy is to remove
barriers and controls impeding the supply of good, affordable housing.

Sewell has researched his subject thoroughly, and readers will
appreciate both the wealth of references cited and the inclusion of an
index. Interspersed throughout the text are a number of photographs of
housing arrangements from different parts of Canada. The book is written
in a clear style and would appeal to a broad audience. Each chapter is
concisely summarized, and the book covers the gamut of social, public,
and private housing.

Sewell brings impressive qualifications to the task of writing a book
on Canadian housing issues. He has served as chair of the Metro Toronto
Housing Authority, mayor of Toronto, and chair of the Commission on
Planning and Development Reform in Ontario. Although he is likely most
familiar with the situation in Ontario, Sewell provides the reader with
a balanced account of housing programs and legislation from across


Sewell, John., “Houses and Homes: Housing for Canadians,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 15, 2024,