Plenary 4: session A and B

Friday, June 29, 09.00-10.30, Campus Ekonomikum
Parallel session A, Lecture Hall 3

Can’t stay or can’t go: Displacement, segregation and limited housing choice in growing cities

In rapidly growing urban areas, many households are facing increasing difficulty in finding or staying in suitable housing with the resources available to them. Gentrification and renoviction entail displacement of some current residents to more marginal housing areas, and they can undermine feelings of attachment and belonging among those residents who are able to remain. Other households face difficulties in escaping unsuitable housing, their suffering exacerbated by seeing the value and quality of their housing erode further. The two speakers in this session will address such issues with the displacement and marginalization attendant on severely limited housing choices. In her presentation, Nóra Teller will consider how economic inequality, ineffective housing policies and housing discrimination converge in cementing disadvantageous living conditions for certain groups, taking the Roma of Hungary as a particular case. Carina Listerborn will in her presentation reframe what has been discussed as a “housing shortage” in Sweden to a problem of “housing inequality”, focusing on those segments of Swedish society in which people have found it difficult to enter and compete in a housing market where rental options are increasingly scarce.

Moderator: Miguel A. Martínez, Professor of Housing and Urban Sociology, Institute for Housing and Urban Research, Uppsala University

Trapped in one’s own housing: The limitations of housing choices in segregated neighbourhoods

Nóra Teller, Senior Research Fellow, Metropolitan Research Institute, Budapest

Abstract: Spatial exclusion processes across post-transition countries have resulted from an interplay of political, economic and institutional changes. Migration to and from urban and suburban areas and densification of selected neighbourhoods have created room for segregation and displacement of marginalized groups. At the same time, urban renewal, regional development and housing policies, coupled with restrictive social protection reforms have contributed to an increase in the gap between middle-class home-owners and trapped groups on the margins, who have not only been pushed to the margins of the housing market but also have concentrated in areas with decreasing housing values. Individual household housing choices have thus become more and more spatially restricted, especially in those cases where national housing subsidy programs have been made available for better-off households and labour markets have concentrated in regions out of the reach of poor commuters. The spatial concentration of poverty coupled with the concentration of excluded ethnic groups has brought about specific responses in urban and regional development policies. However, these policies necessarily remain limited in scope and effectiveness because they can seldom transform poor households' individual housing choices and other players' housing strategies. Also, they can seldom change economic and institutional settings for more sustained and balanced spatial arrangements. Spatial isolation of marginalized groups has been exacerbated through the exclusion from quality services of both children and parents, which further increases the social divide between neighbourhoods with a high presence and quick reproduction of poverty versus neighbourhoods with higher status. This has again reinforced serious limitations to spatial mobility and migration because of the high value gap and transaction costs, which represent a stronger constraint in super-homeownership countries like Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria, where the share of private home owners is above 95%.

The presentation will explore the patterns of housing choices of those who have lived in segregated neighbourhoods and how the households' choices interplay with broader social issues like economic inequalities, ineffectiveness of housing policies and broader discrimination on the housing market. Based both on case studies and quantitative data I will demonstrate the above-mentioned processes focusing on Roma poverty neighbourhoods' developments and policies addressing segregation mechanisms. 

Housing inequality: Narratives from a precarious housing market

Carina Listerborn, Professor in Urban Planning, Department of Urban Studies, Malmö

Abstract: The provision of ‘good housing’ has been at the core of the Swedish Social Democrat post-war welfare model, characterized by subsidized construction, strong tenant protections and a tenant organization, and high-quality housing standards. However, the Swedish housing market has undergone dramatic changes since the early 1990s. The last decades of reforms in housing policy have increased segregation and spatial and social polarization; contributed to the shortages in housing; increased homelessness; worsened overcrowding; fueled displacement from renovictions (i.e. renovations that lead to eviction); and provoked constant fear among many people that they may lose their homes. In 2016, the National Board of Housing declared that Sweden needs 710 000 new housing units in the coming ten years in order to mitigate the crisis, which would mean building 88 000 new housing units per year in a country with a population of 10 million. The housing shortage is particularly acute within the rental sector, as rental housing has been regarded as too expensive to build and not profitable enough for the housing construction companies.

The ‘housing crisis’ is on the one hand an opportunity for investments for construction companies and property owners, and on the other hand a lived experienced of insecurity and precariousness for people who have been marginalized on the housing market. This presentation will focus on narratives from people who belong to groups that find it difficult to access affordable housing; young adults, single parents, unemployed people, migrants, and pensioners. Their stories illustrate the point that the housing ‘shortage’ should rather be interpreted as housing ‘inequality’.

Friday, June 29, 09.00-10.30, Campus Ekonomikum
Parallel session B, Lecture Hall 4

Densification - problems and possibilities, up, down and sideways

Migration into cities ordinarily entails increasing residential densities, changes in qualities of the residential context, and sorting processes through which those with more social and economic resources come to occupy more favorable locations. The distribution of the more favorable locations has a vertical as well as horizontal aspect; those living in lower levels may for example be more exposed to noise and air pollution from traffic, and receive less daylight. In his presentation Thomas Maloutas will discuss how the vertical aspect of spatial segregation has found expression in Athens, a city that has added densely built housing areas at a rapid pace over the past several decades. Per Berg will then comment on further challenges with densification, and offer views on how densification can be guided through design to offer more favorable living conditions for all residents.

Moderator: Susanne Urban

Segregation in spatial proximity

Thomas Maloutas, Professor of Social Geography, Department of Geography, Harokopio University, Athens

Abstract: Segregation is usually understood as the unequal spatial distribution of class or ethnic groups, which leads to the formation of neighbourhoods with different socioeconomic or ethnic profiles. This ‘horizontal’ model of sociospatial separation was manifest in the expansion to increasingly distant and socially homogeneous low-rise suburbs of American cities, and it has dominated the field of urban studies. In most parts of the world, however, cities have evolved rather compactly, producing more intricate segregation patterns. One of those is vertical segregation in high-rise areas.

Vertical segregation is one of several possible modes by which space may become socially differentiated and ranked. These forms of segregation in spatial proximity are interesting for the ways in which they have been promoted; for the particular social strata involved in these segregation forms and their mutual relations; for their competing or complementary relations with other forms of segregation; and for the ways the particular forms of spatial proximity for the groups involved become an advantage or a disadvantage for social mobility.

The discussion of vertical segregation in Athens will serve as a showcase of important social divisions and inequalities that are not expressed by spatial separation. The social cohabitation that vertical segregation is producing may have ambivalent effects on the relations among the social groups involved, often with respect to the use/appropriation of important local services. It may also affect processes of substantial neighbourhood change, like gentrification, depending on the ways constraints and opportunities in the housing market are shaped by changing trends or regulated by urban policies.

Functional density – A new planning model for mitigating segregation and promoting health

Per G Berg, Professor in Landscape Architecture, Department of Urban and Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Science, Ultuna

Abstract: Densification is our time’s expected panacea for creating sustainable cities. It has been suggested by policy makers that densification of human habitats is the remedy for a number of issues. It will save energy, land and water. Compact neighbourhoods are assumed to promote better social interactions, practical co-operation, high-quality green structure, cheaper housing, and a shift in transport modes to public and active transport.  Packed housing is believed to promote cultural activities and offer synaesthetically attractive living for tomorrow’s healthy citizens. Yet, there is little evidence that these anticipated benefits get realized.

Rather, the current practice of densification has revealed quite the opposite: Overly dense urban blocks generate more consumption of physical resources, are more expensive, have lost most of their green-blue values, offer a tortuous everyday living, are repelling neighbours, restrict cultural expressions and produce low-grade intersensory urban landscapes. Horizontal and vertical densification can also threaten healthy habits, challenge mental health and generate segregation and gentrification.

As an alternative target for densification practices today, functional density seeks to confer on urban and rural communities a sound balance between efficient land use and an attractive city life between buildings. In this presentation, I will define a new concept for sustainable human settlements and demonstrate a new method (FOMA-analysis) for measuring and assessing density and spaciousness qualities when exploring plans, newly built areas and mature built-up reference areas.

Functional densification is a process that can mitigate segregation and gentrification – and promote a healthy city life everywhere.