This study examines the changing role of the public sector in Turkey with regard to housing provision since 1950, and particularly since 2000, and seeks to clarify how public intervention has affected housing provision and urban development dynamics in major cities. Three periods may be identified, with central government acting as a regulator in a first period characterized by a ‘housing boom’. During the second period, from 1980 to 2000, a new mass housing law spurred construction activity, although the main beneficiaries of the housing fund tended to be the middle classes. After 2000, contrary to emerging trends in both Northern and Southern European countries, the public sector in Turkey became actively involved in housing provision. During this process, new housing estates were created on greenfield sites on the outskirts of cities, instead of efforts being made to rehabilitate, restore or renew existing housing stock in the cities. Meanwhile, the concept of ‘urban regeneration’ has been opportunistically incorporated into the planning agenda of the public sector, and — under the pretext of regenerating squatter housing areas — existing residents have been moved out, while channels for community participation have been bypassed.