Social Housing and Urban Renewal

Cover of Social Housing and Urban Renewal

A Cross-National Perspective

Synopsis

Table of contents

(17 chapters)

Prelims

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Purpose

This chapter addresses the related questions of how to assess housing redevelopment and what constitutes a successful redevelopment project, based on the HOPE VI transformation of Boston’s Orchard Park from one of the city’s most notorious, crime-ridden public housing projects into a mixed-income community that remained overwhelmingly composed of low-income residents.

Methodology/approach

The analysis is based on a unique set of interviews with a sample of residents before and after housing redevelopment occurred. In addition, we draw upon interviews with housing authority staff, official agency file documents, and archival materials.

Findings

We find increased residential satisfaction after redevelopment but lingering concerns about safety and security despite marked declines in crime. Although the redevelopment process displaced some households, residents attributed improvements in living conditions to changes in tenant composition prompted by the housing transformation.

Social implications

The results suggest an alternative model of public housing redevelopment that accommodates a majority of poor, subsidized households with some displacement. Still, loss of housing units, tenant selection, and social problems complicate notions of successful redevelopment.

Originality/value

This chapter contributes to the literature by showing how some low-income families may benefit from housing displacement induced by the redevelopment process. We analyze an overlooked but frequently implemented approach to housing redevelopment under the HOPE VI program to keep the majority of redeveloped units for low-income residents. It is the only study of which we are aware that has collected public housing resident opinions both before and after HOPE VI redevelopment occurred.

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Purpose

Based on a case study of the ‘regeneration’ of the ‘Five Estates’ of Peckham, a neighbourhood located in south-east London, this chapter considers the social implications of urban ‘regeneration’ processes from an anthropological perspective centred on concepts of waste and value and highlights the emotional turmoil and personal disruption that individuals affected by regeneration plans routinely experience.

Methodology/approach

An ethnographic approach is used based on participant observation, unstructured and semi-structured interviews as well as limited archival research. Life histories are central to the methodology and these result in the substantial use of long quotes from respondents, to highlight the ways in which they framed the issues as well as their opinions.

Findings

The chapter shows how urban regeneration processes that involve displacements and demolitions deeply affect the lives of estate residents. In juxtaposing the voices and experiences of local politicians, officers and residents it sheds light on the ways in which the values and interests of some individuals — those invested with more power, ultimately — ended up shaping regenerated landscapes. At the same time, the homes and communities valued by the residents who lived in them were demolished, removed and destroyed. They were wasted, literally and symbolically, erased from the landscape, their claims to it denied and ultimately forgotten.

Social implications

The chapter highlights how while the rhetoric of regeneration strives to portray these developments as improvement and renewal, the ethnographic evidence shows instead the other side of urban regeneration as wasting both communities and urban landscapes resulting in ‘state-led gentrification’.

Originality/value

Thinking about regeneration and recycling through waste and value allows us to consider these processes in a novel way: at a micro level we can look at the ways in which individuals attribute to and recognise value in different sets of objects and social relationships. At the macro level we can then observe how the power dynamics that shaped the situation resulted in only a specific view and set of values to be enacted and respected, while all others were silenced, wasted and literally expelled from Peckham.

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Purpose

Based on a case study of the Logan Renewal Initiative (LRI) in Queensland Australia, this chapter examines the competing aims bound up in programmes of urban renewal and the way different stakeholder groups advocate for one component of the programme while seeking to prevent another.

Methodology/approach

A qualitative case study approach is used based on interview and documentary material to elicit the competing views and opinions of local residents, state and local governments, housing providers and other stakeholders around a renewal programme.

Findings

It is found that there are two competing agendas bound up within the LRI, with gentrification at the heart of each. One focuses on the virtues of the social housing reform agenda, but sees gentrification as an unintended and undesirable outcome that needs to be carefully managed. The other is a place-improvement ambition that sees gentrification as an effective policy mechanism, but one that will be undermined by any increases in the stock of social and affordable housing.

Social implications

The chapter emphasizes that programmes of renewal are rarely coherent policy tools, but are subject to change, contestation and negotiation as stakeholders compete to impose their own desired outcomes. In the case of the LRI, both outcomes will likely result in the marginalization of low-income groups unless their needs are placed at the forefront of its design.

Originality/value

The chapter engages critically with the widely held view that urban renewal is a means of gentrifying local neighbourhoods by showing how local conditions and circumstances render the relationship between renewal and gentrification far more complex that generally conceived.

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Purpose

This chapter compares programmes for urban housing regeneration in France and England, showing how ideological similarities reflected in policy ideas and programmes played out differently in significantly different contexts.

Methodology/approach

The chapter draws on results of several major research programmes, including in-depth extensive fieldwork in a number of cities and regions in France and England. Field research included participant observation in participatory planning events, interviews, home visits, guided walks in the districts, etc. These enabled a multi-site and multi-perspective understanding of urban housing renewal at different sites.

Findings

In both contexts, early promises for participation in housing renewal gave way to an imperative for demolition, justified on purely technical grounds that were not shared with participants. The linking of social mix and demolition for local ‘improvement’ also then appeared to be a contradiction between different policies that few residents could endorse, other than selected beneficiaries. Participation, social mix and demolition thus formed an unholy trinity in urban renewal policies.

Social implications

Housing renewal requires much greater commitment to the experience of residents, to avoid exacerbating social problems rather than relieving them.

Originality/value

The chapter reflects on a wealth of in-depth research over more than a decade to consider the broader implications and outcomes of housing renewal programmes in two countries. It highlights the different balances of power in the two cases and the trajectories of respective urban social politics, including the overlaps between policy objectives and similarities in the government of housing renewal. It also highlights the determination and commitment among residents to the value of housing that is judged from the outside to be ‘poor’.

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Purpose

Based on a case study of conversion of real estate complexes built in Turin at the time of the 2006 Winter Olympic Games into public and subsidized housing, the chapter compares policy goals aimed at producing social mix through the mixing of housing tenure, with actual outcomes and thus identifies possible advantages, challenges, and pitfalls of this kind of intervention.

Methodology/approach

The analysis is based on a survey and semi-structured interviews with residents, in-depth interviews with key actors, and observation of daily interactions in public and shared places.

Findings

Regeneration policies and tenure mix seem to be most effective at preventing neighborhood stigmatization and attract private investments in facility development (area-based effects), but not to be “automatically” a source of mixed social relations and positive role models able to limit socially disapproved behaviors (people-based effects).

Social implications

The practical lesson which can be drawn from this chapter is that the achievement of people-based effects requires long-standing actions which go beyond the construction and allocation of new apartments.

Originality/value

The chapter engages critically with the idea that built environment has deterministic effects on social environment, and social mix resulted from regeneration and housing policies can work as a catch-all solution for activating and rehabilitating human and social resources in the target area. Specifically, we show how these processes require particular organizational and policy conditions that cannot be taken for granted.

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Purpose

This chapter aims at providing insight into how social mixing plays out in the Transvaal neighborhood in Amsterdam — a neighborhood which has gone through various rounds of urban renewal — in the context of nationwide polarization between native-Dutch and Moroccan-Dutch.

Methodology/approach

This chapter is based on research with a neighborhood focus — daily interactions, urban renewal, and use of public space — which took place during 2007–2010. Methods used include participant observation, semistructured interviews, and focus groups.

Findings

The physical renewal implies renovating and pulling down social housing, and building new social or owner-occupier housing. This study provides insight into how residents of different ethnic and income backgrounds live together in the neighborhood, also taking into account the impact of social polarization at the national level.

Social implications

By knowing how people with different ethnic and class backgrounds live together in Transvaal neighborhood, it contributes to the formulation of evidence-based policies for the improvement of social cohesion, livability, safety of the neighborhood, and social capital of local residents.

Originality/value

This study looks at social mix in the context of national-level social polarization between native-Dutch and Moroccan-Dutch. This creates a new viewpoint seen against how the general literature on renewal and social mixing tends to do two things: firstly it usually explicitly or implicitly is also a tenure mix strategy, and secondly the policy focus of the social mix is usually around class issues, that is, the mixing of poor social housing tenants with richer owners.

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Purpose

Based on a case study in Halle-Neustadt, this chapter examines the changing configuration of social housing provision in a paradigmatic shrinking city in East Germany.

Findings

Social housing is under pressure in East Germany due to three developments. First, ‘social housing’ in Germany has always been a temporary affair such that the number of social housing units is decreasing rapidly all over Germany; this development is particularly pronounced in East Germany where most cities are struck by deindustrialization and poverty, and lack the resources for new social housing subsidies. Second, privatization has led to a reduction of the municipally and cooperatively owned housing stock and a growing relevance of financial investors. Third, most cities in East Germany have experienced severe population losses; this has stimulated ‘rightsizing’ policies and 350,000 housing units have been demolished since 2001. These three developments produce new concentrations of households living in poverty, accelerated downgrading and a crowding out of the poor to the least attractive parts of the city.

Social implications

The chapter demonstrates how developments in different sectors result in the marginalization of impoverished groups in a low-demand environment. It emphasizes the interplay of planning strategies, housing privatization and changes in welfare provision which have had limited research attention.

Originality/value

This is the first study of the changes of social housing provision in the East German context characterized by deindustrialization, low demand, privatization and financialization.

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Purpose

Based on a case study of the pre-2020 Olympics renewal project in the city-center of Tokyo, this chapter examines the nature and impacts of urban renewal conducted by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) in relation to social housing.

Methodology/approach

A qualitative case study approach is used based on interviews (with different stakeholders), and participant observation (at various local events or public assemblies) to analyze the impact of such urban renewal on social housing and its community.

Findings

The TMG has promoted urban renewal of city government-owned land in public-private partnerships by defending these projects as “win-win-win strategy among residents-business-city.” However, at the same time it has worsened the housing conditions of residents by causing their displacement or the deterioration of their housing environment.

Social implications

The chapter shows us that the TMG’s justification for the urban renewal — would produce trickle-down effects and help the residents — doesn’t reflect what is really happening to the community. This will help us to have a better understanding of the reality and to critically discuss a more just urban and housing policy.

Originality/value

The chapter provides a complex insight on the “super-residualization” of social housing in Japan, characterized not only by the decrease in its number but also urban renewal providing business services and amenities for the middle and upper classes. This provides an interesting comparison with Western societies.

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Purpose

In this chapter, I focus on stigmatization exercised and experienced by local residents, comparing two socially-diverse areas in very different contexts: the Cabrini Green-Near North area in Chicago and the La Loma-La Florida area in Santiago de Chile.

Methodology/approach

Data for this study were drawn from 1 year of qualitative research, using interviews with residents and institutional actors, field notes from observation sessions of several inter-group spaces, and “spatial inventories” in which I located the traces of the symbolic presence of each group.

Findings

Despite contextual differences of type of social differentiation, type of social mix, type of housing tenure for the poor, and public visibility, I argue that there are important common problems: first, symbolic differences are stressed by identity changes; second, distrust against “the other” is spatially crystallized in any type and scale of social housing; third, stigmatization changes in form and scale; and fourth, there are persisting prejudiced depictions and patterns of avoidance.

Social implications

Socially-mixed neighborhoods, as areas where at least two different social groups live in proximity, offer an interesting context for observing territorial stigmatization. They are strange creatures of urban development, due to the powerful symbolism of desegregation in contexts of growing inequalities.

Originality/value

The chapter contributes to a cross-national perspective with a comparison of global-north and global-south cities. And it also springs from a study of socially-mixed areas, in which the debate on concentrated/deconcentrated poverty is central, and in which the problem of “clearing places” appears in both material (e.g., displacement) and symbolic (e.g., stigmatization) terms.

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Purpose

This chapter provides a critical examination of the urban renewal process currently taking place in inner-city Johannesburg. It evaluates the effects of an approach to providing social housing which blends commercial, market-based practices with state intervention and regulation and discusses the implications these competing imperatives have for the area and academic understandings of urban renewal.

Methodology/approach

Findings are based on a qualitative research process, carried out over 9 months in inner-city Johannesburg. Research involved interviews with property developers, housing providers, government officials, and tenants living in renovated social and affordable housing developments.

Findings

The process is contradictory and overburdened, and attempts to fulfill competing goals and agendas. Some developmental ambitions are being realized as the supply of social and affordable housing is expanding. However, the benefits are limited, as poor communities are being displaced and, in many cases, commercial concerns trump social and developmental considerations.

Social implications

Findings highlight the ways in which a range of political circumstances, policy decisions, and spatial conditions combine to create an approach to renewal which is neither entirely neoliberal nor developmental. The case study complicates narratives which stress the global dominance of neoliberal approaches to urban renewal and demonstrates that alternative developmental ambitions exist alongside commercial practices.

Originality/value

The chapter highlights the ambiguity and hybridity of localized approaches to housing provision. In doing so it adds nuance to debates about urban processes around the globe and draws attention back to the uncertainty, agency, and diversity which are continuously shaping urban societies.

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Purpose

The chapter aims to discuss the social housing history and urban renewal experiences in Turkey while pointing out similarities to and variegations from the urban policy trends in the global north in the postwar era. To carry out these discussions, the chapter focuses on the Karapınar Project in Eskişehir.

Methodology/approach

The chapter is built on an anthropological case study and a self-funded video documentary research that includes insights from local inhabitants, projects’ authorities, urban experts, and planners in order to show contesting claims and views about the renewal, new housing conditions, and economic consequences.

Findings

The Karapınar Renewal Project is a Mass Housing Administration (TOKİ) project which claimed to be a ‘welfare oriented’, ‘renewal on-site’, ‘social housing project’ aiming to turn gecekondu – squatter settlements – into a healthy neighborhood. Yet, these claims fail to meet their promises and only appear to mask the actual rent-seeking motivations of the project.

Social implications

The chapter shows that large economic profits of the authorities create a significant contrast with economic burdens and dispossessions of the poor residents. The locals’ fears about the payments and concerns about changing living conditions are in sharp contradiction with the welfare claims of the state institutions.

Originality/value

The Karapınar Project uses the concepts of ‘social housing’ and ‘welfare state’ which are normally associated with policies of social democratic ideology. Yet, when looking into the reality, it becomes clear that the Karapınar Project shifted the meanings of these concepts and utilized them to create a space for legitimacy.

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Purpose

This chapter provides an account of the multi-dimensional injustices faced by public housing tenants in inner-city Salford; a contemporary, post-crash ‘austerity’ British city.

Methodology/approach

Two phases of qualitative empirical fieldwork were conducted by the author between 2003 and 2016 supplemented by documentary research and analysis of media articles released since 2009.

Findings

The empirical data presented demonstrates the challenges of living in partially gentrified, partially abandoned, semi-ensnared spaces. Salford is a city where ‘austerity’ has hit hard; where household incomes, social services and public housing tenancies have been undermined to such an extent that many live in extremely uncertain conditions. This has occurred against the backbeat of longer term restructuring where the state has been rolled back, out and back again at a bewildering rate, shunting residents from one logic of renewal and retrenchment to another.

Originality/value

This chapter looks beyond what can seem like linear accounts of restructuring within ‘planetary’ accounts of neoliberal urban transformation and recognizes the chaos of urban renewal and welfare state retrenchment in the global Northern urban periphery. In so doing, it argues we have a better platform for understanding the nuances of residents’ responses, resistances and relations on the ever-shifting ground.

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About the Authors

Pages 479-484
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Index

Pages 485-499
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Cover of Social Housing and Urban Renewal
DOI
10.1108/9781787141247
Publication date
2017-08-07
Editors
ISBN
978-1-78714-124-7