This paper confronts one of the biggest contemporary public policy conundrums globally; the challenge of decreasing housing affordability for urban residents. Aiming to align the international literature with the multitude of policy responses following the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), the paper explores ‘in-depth’, and via recontextualisation, the policy priorities and strategies designed to combat housing affordability challenges across five international cities from advanced economy countries–Berlin (Germany), Vienna (Austria), Singapore (Singapore), Sydney (Australia) and Auckland (New Zealand). Carefully guided by critical social science and heterodox political economy literatures, and based on an innovative multi-city comparative ethnography (MCCE) centred on 118 in-depth research interviews with key stakeholders, six approaches are singled out as especially prominent: (1) market-based housing supply; (2) direct price/rent control; (3) construction cost reduction; (4) non-market-based housing supply; (5) demand-side interventions; and (6) urban land market interventions. Whereas all strategies face serious tensions, contradictions and implementation barriers, the latter three interventions are more likely to have a positive and lasting impact. Based on these findings, there is a need for normative reorientation and intellectual innovation in order to expand understandings on those three interventions in the name of affordable housing for all.