Private-public partnership, the compact city, and social housing: best practice for whom?

The Casa Propia programme of the Buenos Aires City Government is an innovative case of public-private financing of social housing. It aims to encourage investors to build housing on private land for sale to low-income buyers receiving `soft' credits from the state. The Casa Propia experience suggests that in the South, where states tends to lack consolidated `social contingency networks', the design of housing programmes that are theoretically sustainable for low-income groups tends to give priority to financial variables over social and environmental concerns. This creates contradictions within such programmes that result in negative social and environmental impacts. This article also appears in the Development in Practice Reader [13]Development and Cities