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Choice or No Choice? Genuine or Fake Choice? – A Qualitative Study for Reflecting on Housing Choice

Choice or No Choice? Genuine or Fake Choice? – A Qualitative Study for Reflecting on Housing Choice

This paper seeks to reflect on issues related to the nature of housing choice, drawing on qualitative empirical data collected in in-depth interviews.  This paper discusses two perspectives related to housing choice, namely, the ‘market perspective of housing choice’ and the ‘perspective of housing choice for well-being’. The ‘market perspective of housing choice’ highlights that desirability generally increases with a greater range of housing choice as the housing supply increases till a climax is reached, after which a further expansion of housing choice may indicate an excess housing supply, which may not be advantageous and home-buyers may instead ‘decide not to choose or buy’.  The ‘perspective of housing choice for well-being’ reveals that choice in the housing arena is often viewed as a means to eventual well-being, rather than as an end in itself.  Housing choice is ‘genuine’ and ‘meaningful’ if there are meaningful and significant options among a few desirable housing alternatives. ‘Fake housing choice’ involves having to choose from among housing options that are all generally bad.

27.7.2020 | Betty Yung, Barbara Y.P. Leung | Volume: 7 | Issue: 2 | Pages: 1-10 | 10.13060/23362839.2020.7.2.510
Varieties of Housing Regime Approaches

Rethinking the Concept of ‘Housing Regime’

Rethinking the Concept of ‘Housing Regime’

‘Housing regime’ is a term that is used relatively often in (macrosocial) research comparing housing policies and systems. However, there is no generally accepted definition of this term. In this paper I shall first scrutinise previous uses of the concept, starting with a discussion of the most famous regime concept – the welfare regime. The discussion paves the way for a redefinition of a ‘housing regime’: the set of fundamental principles according to which housing provision operates in some defined area (municipality, region, state) at a particular point in time. Such principles are thought to be embodied in the institutional arrangements that relate to housing provision, in the political interventions that address housing issues, and as in the discourses through which housing issues are customarily understood. This definition is compatible with the path-dependence approach that has been adopted here and with the aspects of reality that researchers want to capture using the ‘regime’ concept.

7.6.2020 | Hannu Ruonavaara | Volume: 7 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 5-14 | 10.13060/23362839.2020.7.1.499
Varieties of Housing Regime Approaches

Incremental Change in Housing Regimes: Some Theoretical Propositions with Empirical Illustrations

Incremental Change in Housing Regimes: Some Theoretical Propositions with Empirical Illustrations

The durable structures of housing and housing institutions are often subject to long-term processes of incremental change. Nevertheless, housing studies have largely focused either on static snapshots of policies or, more recently, on the inertia of institutional path dependence, while processes of incremental change have been almost entirely neglected. Political scientists (Streeck/Thelen/Mahoney) have proposed a typology of patterns of incremental institutional change, and this paper explores the applicability of this typology to housing structures and housing institutions. We draw on empirical illustrations from the housing literature to show how five types of change – layering, conversion, displacement, drift, exhaustion – apply to housing structures and institutions. We conclude with some general observations on how the typology can be used in further studies of developments in national housing regimes.

6.6.2020 | Bo Bengtsson, Sebastian Kohl | Volume: 7 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 15-24 | 10.13060/23362839.2020.7.1.500
Varieties of Housing Regime Approaches

Classifying Housing Regimes. Is it Worth Doing? What are the Alternatives?

Classifying Housing Regimes. Is it Worth Doing? What are the Alternatives?

Comparative housing research is hindered by attempts to provide broad empirical categorisations of types of Housing Regimes and their equivalents and sweeping cross-country generalisations about their effects. Regime theory is right to recognise the housing provision is and can be organised in different ways but proselytises too strongly. Real issues and policy debates in countries are instead embedded in the existence of specific, tenure related, networks of housing provision and they widely differ across the world. Taking that on board can lead to more fruitful understandings.

4.6.2020 | Michael Ball | Volume: 7 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 36-48 | 10.13060/23362839.2020.7.1.502
Varieties of Housing Regime Approaches

Integrating Varieties of Capitalism, Welfare Regimes, and Housing at Multiple Levels and in the Long Run

Integrating Varieties of Capitalism, Welfare Regimes, and Housing at Multiple Levels and in the Long Run

The title conveys all the elements of this article. The typologies of capitalist economies, the typologies of welfare regimes, and the typologies of rental and owner-occupied housing regimes should be synchronised and combined, not selectively, but systematically. Integration will have to determine the multiple levels to which these typologies can be applied and on which they can interact. Owing to the persistence of housing institutions and buildings, a long-term (historical) view is also suggested – at all levels of analysis.

2.6.2020 | Walter Matznetter | Volume: 7 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 63-73 | 10.13060/23362839.2020.7.1.504

Financialised Privatisation, Affordable Housing and Institutional Investment: The Case of England

Financialised Privatisation, Affordable Housing and Institutional Investment: The Case of England

Historically, public and affordable housing has been provided by the state in close conjunction with local authorities, public housing developers, and other social housing providers. Yet, affordable rental homes are now increasingly being managed, produced, or acquired by private equity firms and other institutional investors. In this contribution, we argue that ‘financialised privatisation’ is a helpful concept for understanding these shifts in state-finance compromises within the post-crisis affordable housing sector. Drawing on the case of England, we first discuss the major mechanisms of financialised privatisation and examine how an increasingly polymorphous affordable housing sector has emerged with a focus on multi-tenure and mixed-income housing tenures. We then discuss the possible challenges of this transformation and conclude that it remains very much a question whether a privately funded housing system will emerge that provides genuinely affordable housing and reduces inequalities.

29.5.2020 | Gertjan Wijburg, Richard Waldron | Volume: 7 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 114-129 | 10.13060/23362839.2020.7.1.508

Subsidised Housing? The Paradoxical Imaginaries of Finnish Non-Profit Rental Housing

Subsidised Housing? The Paradoxical Imaginaries of Finnish Non-Profit Rental Housing

As a developed welfare state, Finland has a long history of and continuing political support for housing policies, ranging from non-profit rental housing to owner-occupied housing supported by tax deductions. The current neoliberal critique, however, has questioned the efficiency and moral foundations of the established policies. This critique has taken as its target the difference between market rents and non-profit rents, citing this as an instance of ‘alternative costs’ for the city and, as such, as a form of subsidy that is unjustly distributed. However, the full picture of different housing subsidies – including those received by owner-occupiers – is not usually considered.  The paper concludes that the current debate does not take into account the ways in which different subsidies interact in the approaches used to provide affordable housing in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. As such the critique becomes tacitly political, although it is represented in terms of rationality and justice.

28.5.2020 | Johanna Lilius, Kimmo Lapintie | Volume: 7 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 130-139 | 10.13060/23362839.2020.7.1.509

The Financial Instability of Housing First Families in the City of Brno – the Risk of the Recurrence of Homelessness

The Financial Instability of Housing First Families in the City of Brno – the Risk of the Recurrence of Homelessness

This article presents the partial research findings on financial instability as a risk factor for the recurrence of homelessness among families enrolled in a Housing First project in the City of Brno (Czech Republic). The project represents an evidence-based social innovation focused on ending families’ homelessness. The research was designed as a Randomised Controlled Trial study accompanied by a qualitative evaluation. The data were collected through questionnaires, individual interviews, and focus groups. In the results section we follow the logic of a financial stability model and conclude that research results on financial stability overall did not prove to be statistically significant on a short-term scale. In the discussion, we state that prolonged material poverty combined with the nature of the Czech housing benefit system and the experience of residential alienation could increase the risk of the recurrence of homelessness for families. A crisis financial fund was established in an effort to prevent this.

13.12.2019 | Eliška Černá, Petr Kubala, Štěpán Ripka | Volume: 6 | Issue: 2 | Pages: 24-32 | 10.13060/23362839.2019.6.2.489

The Dilemmas of Means-tested and Market-oriented Social Rental Housing: Municipal Housing in Norway 1945-2019

The Dilemmas of Means-tested and Market-oriented Social Rental Housing: Municipal Housing in Norway 1945-2019

In this paper, I analyse the post-war development of social rental housing in Norway. During the 20th century, Norwegian municipalities created some of the more means-tested and market-oriented social housing sectors in Europe. Given developments in other countries in recent decades, the Norwegian case is therefore highly relevant to the general debate on the residualisation of social housing in Europe. Using the case of Oslo as the main point of departure, I discuss key challenges of residual and market-oriented social rental housing. Drawing on city council debates, local government reports, and previous studies, I argue that the logic of extreme means-testing creates policy dilemmas connected to contradictory policy goals.

16.2.2019 | Jardar Sorvoll | Volume: 6 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 51-60 | 10.13060/23362839.2019.6.1.460
Housing Financialisation and Families

‘They seemed like Super Businessmen’: Financial Instruments in Social Housing Policy

‘They seemed like Super Businessmen’: Financial Instruments in Social Housing Policy

This article explores the trajectory of so-called guaranteed social housing in the Czech Republic as an example of penetrating financial instruments into the public policy realm. The project, promoted by the government’s Agency for Social Inclusion, was intended to encourage private landlords to rent their properties to people in need through commercial insurance against the risk of rent defaults. Using policy documents, media and interviews with governmental officers, the article describes the performative strength of financial instruments in the sphere traditionally occupied by the welfare state. In financialisation literature, the proliferation of financial instruments is often described as a one-way process in which these instruments colonise public domains. However, the empirical case discussed in the article shows that this process is much more complex and contingent, and financial instruments are not used as the best option but rather as a last resort in a situation marked by weak policies.

4.12.2018 | Karel Čada | Volume: 5 | Issue: 2 | Pages: 56-67 | 10.13060/23362839.2018.5.2.443

Delivering Social Housing: An Overview of the Housing Crisis in Dublin

Delivering Social Housing: An Overview of the Housing Crisis in Dublin

This paper explores the responses to the housing crisis in Dublin, Ireland, by analysing recent housing policies promoted to prevent family homelessness. I argue that private rental market subsides have played an increasing role in the provision of social housing in Ireland. Instead of policies that facilitate the construction of affordable housing or the direct construction of social housing, current housing policies have addressed the social housing crisis by encouraging and relying excessively on the private market to deliver housing. The housing crisis has challenged governments to increase the social housing supply, but the implementation of a larger plan to deliver social housing has not been effective, as is evidenced by the rapid decline of both private and social housing supply and the increasing number of homeless people in Dublin.

30.6.2018 | Valesca Lima | Volume: 5 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 1-11 | 10.13060/23362839.2018.5.1.402

Privileged but Challenged: The State of Social Housing in Austria in 2018

Privileged but Challenged: The State of Social Housing in Austria in 2018

On the one hand, Austrian social housing is stronger than ever due to the growing importance that social rental apartments play on the housing market. The volume, price, and quality standards of this housing are competitive with what is found in other sectors of the market and the social housing sector also helped to mitigate the effects of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). On the other hand, pressure on the rental housing market has increased because demand for cheap housing has grown more than supply. The social housing sector thus has to address the vital question of how to increase targeting on low-income households and vulnerable groups and at the same time to maintain social mix and public support. In this paper I argue that the sector, in spite of its strong position, is facing some common European challenges that will redefine its role in the future. Yet, the social housing sector is overburdened if expected to solve many problems that have arisen due to non-housing issues.

29.6.2018 | Alexis Mundt | Volume: 5 | Issue: 1 | Pages: 12-25 | 10.13060/23362839.2018.5.1.408
Social Housing after the GFC: Further Evidence

Social Housing after the Global Financial Crisis: Further Evidence

Social Housing after the Global Financial Crisis: Further Evidence

Editorial.

29.12.2017 | Teresio Poggio, Christine Whitehead | Volume: 4 | Issue: 2 | Pages: 1-7 | 10.13060/23362839.2017.4.2.381
Social Housing after the GFC: Further Evidence

Retrenchment and Social Housing: The Case of Finland

Retrenchment and Social Housing: The Case of Finland

About 12 per cent of households in Finland live in social rental housing. The Finnish system of social housing is now facing challenges. Finland has reached a situation where large numbers of social rental dwellings are free from regulation because the state housing loans have been paid off, while new production of such housing is unable to make up for this loss. Potentially this means a decrease in the social rental housing stock. Current housing policy discourse sees social housing more as a failed policy than a necessary welfare measure. Such developments can be related to a larger change in the Finnish housing regime. It has entered a phase of retrenchment, where the government withdraws from its previous commitment to housing provision in order to give more room to market forces. Retrenchment has led to the strengthening of one of the basic features of Finnish housing policy, its selectiveness.

28.12.2017 | Hannu Ruonavaara | Volume: 4 | Issue: 2 | Pages: 8-18 | 10.13060/23362839.2017.4.2.382
Social Housing after the GFC: Further Evidence

A Tale of two Busts (and a Boom): Irish Social Housing before and after the Global Financial Crisis

A Tale of two Busts (and a Boom): Irish Social Housing before and after the Global Financial Crisis

This article examines the marked decline in Irish social housing’s traditional role as the main source of accommodation for low-income households. We argue that although this policy redirection has become clearly apparent in the context of the Global Financial Crisis; its roots are, in fact, much older. They lie, not in Ireland’s most recent fiscal crisis, but in the last one which occurred between the late 1970s and mid-1980s. Changes made to arrangements for funding social housing during this time effected a long-term contraction in the social housing’s contribution to total housing output which, in turn, precipitated growing reliance on housing allowance subsidised private rented housing to accommodate this group.  The post-GFC austerity merely accelerated this long-term trend rather than signalled a new policy direction.

27.12.2017 | Michelle Norris, Michael Byrne | Volume: 4 | Issue: 2 | Pages: 19-28 | 10.13060/23362839.2017.4.2.383
Social Housing after the GFC: Further Evidence

The French Social Housing Sector at the Crossroads of Budgetary Constraints and Social Missions

The French Social Housing Sector at the Crossroads of Budgetary Constraints and Social Missions

France has a high rate of production of new housing and the Global Financial Crisis has had little impact on a country of fixed-rate housing loans and strong guarantees for home-buyers. At the same time, the social rental sector, managed by a powerful network of public and private (not-for-profit) companies, has greatly increased its housing production thanks to the use of a financial mechanism that is independent of mainstream finance. Housing should be easily available throughout France. But this is not the case in the capital region and for some disadvantaged households. Critics regularly speak out against the deficiencies of French housing policies. Opponents of increased public spending consider that too much public money is being spent on this, while supporters of the free market say that the legal and institutional framework hinders private initiatives. Advocates of homeless people and low-income groups complain about the high cost of housing and segregation processes. This paper presents the debates and discussions regarding the pros and cons of housing policies in France at a time of severe budgetary constraints.

26.12.2017 | Jean-Pierre Schaefer | Volume: 4 | Issue: 2 | Pages: 29-38 | 10.13060/23362839.2017.4.2.384
Social Housing after the GFC: Further Evidence

Building Partnerships for Social Housing: Growing Housing Needs and Effective Solutions for Albanian Cities

Building Partnerships for Social Housing: Growing Housing Needs and Effective Solutions for Albanian Cities

Partnerships have a long history in European social housing with a mixed degree of success. They are an emerging model in post-socialist countries driven by budgetary constraints, rapid privatisation of public housing, and pragmatic efforts to respond to a complex housing affordability crisis. This article evaluates the challenges and opportunities of a new partnership model implemented in Albania to provide social rental housing. The project, launched in 2009, involves a legally defined partnership between central and local governments, the private sector, and an international financial institution. It has doubled the amount of municipal rental housing, addressing the needs of low- and mid-income households in Albania through the construction of 1,138 rental apartments for 4,300 people in eight cities. The allocation process, although politically charged, has been targeted. The partnership has capitalised on efficiencies, sound fiscal management, and cost and quality control. Despite some construction delays and potential concerns related to future sustainability, we argue that the partnership model is effective and has an important learning and innovation role for the future provision of social housing in Albania as well as in other post-socialist countries in South-East Europe facing similar challenges.

25.12.2017 | Sasha Tsenkova, Doris Andoni | Volume: 4 | Issue: 2 | Pages: 39-53 | 10.13060/23362839.2017.4.2.385
Social Housing after the GFC: Further Evidence

Mind the Poorest: Social Housing Provision in Post-crisis Romania

Mind the Poorest: Social Housing Provision in Post-crisis Romania

This paper reflects on recent social housing developments in Romania. It understands social housing as rental social housing and affordable housing, a differentiation that is not made at the national level and introduces a sub-type of affordable housing, which is little documented in current research and is here termed ‘self-help affordable housing’. The paper looks at the legacy of socialist housing and social housing before and after the crisis. It makes an important claim that needs further investigation: current social housing provision in Romania overlooks the poorest households. This has implications for the country’s political leadership; the capacity for financial and institutional innovation; and wider strategies for policy integration.

24.12.2017 | Catalina Turcu | Volume: 4 | Issue: 2 | Pages: 54-66 | 10.13060/23362839.2017.4.2.386
Social Housing after the GFC: Further Evidence

Social Housing Provided by the Third Sector: The Slovak Experience

Social Housing Provided by the Third Sector: The Slovak Experience

This paper aims to describe the legislation of the social housing system in Slovakia and to analyse innovations in social housing provision. The paper contributes to the literature on innovative social housing solutions provided by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), or so-called third sector. The analysis reveals the main factors that may contribute to the success or failure of social innovations in housing provision by NGOs. Long-term community work, the education of future residents, and the participation of future residents in the construction of their homes are the main factors that support the spread of innovations in social housing. On the other hand, lack of cooperation from the government at all levels and low funding are the biggest constraining factors on innovation in social housing in Slovakia.

23.12.2017 | Mária Murray Svidroňová, Beata Mikušová Meričková, Juraj Nemec, Helena Kuvíková | Volume: 4 | Issue: 2 | Pages: 67-75 | 10.13060/23362839.2017.4.2.387
Social Housing after the GFC: Further Evidence

Utilising Social Housing during the Post-2009 Crisis: Problems and Constraints in the Case of Greece

Utilising Social Housing during the Post-2009 Crisis: Problems and Constraints in the Case of Greece

How can European social housing institutions contribute to combating housing deprivation in the context of the post-2009 crisis? The paper examines the main issues and constraints in the Greek case by first questioning the extent of the immediate relevance of major established social housing models in western Europe vis-a-vis housing assistance for the needy and second by highlighting the exceptional conditions in the European South that make for very limited social housing sectors and a predominant bias in favour of widespread owner-occupation across all social classes. Both features are especially pronounced in Greece, where, in fact, social rented housing has never emerged as a viable model. Nevertheless, social housing assistance for renters based on fair allowances should be the main priority under the present crisis conditions, while ‘bricks-and-mortar’ social rented housing can only have a marginal role.

22.12.2017 | Dimitris Emmanuel | Volume: 4 | Issue: 2 | Pages: 76-83 | 10.13060/23362839.2017.4.2.388
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