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How should we evaluate housing outcomes?

The intention of this report is to raise important issues regarding the evaluation of housing outcomes, and the setting of policy/practice objectives, that are often overlooked in common approaches, notably the central role of values and of who defines them.

This report is not an evidence review. It does not review the effect of particular housing policies or practices on different outcomes. Rather, it digs deeper, asking: “how should we evaluate housing outcomes? How should we define progress? And who decides?”.

In part the report outlines the general issues involved in evaluation, emphasising the importance of values, and arguing that no evaluation is ‘neutral’ or ‘value free’. This raises the important question of who defines these values and who decides what represents progress.

Part two discusses the most common types of metrics used to evaluate housing outcomes which are the economic; the objective; and the subjective. The paper discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each of these metrics, focusing particularly on ethical considerations. The case is then made for ultimately evaluating housing outcomes on the basis of people’s capabilities – the effective freedoms and feelings that individuals have reason to value – and the policy implications of this are explored.

Part three of the report then addresses the question of who decides on the evaluative framework. We argue that bottom-up empowered deliberative democratic reasoning should play a much greater role in defining success, and provide some ideas of where this approach might be useful in practice.

Author(s): David Clapham, Chris Foye
Published: 29 March 2019
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