In the latest issue of Housing Studies
, Ray Forrest and Yip Ngai-ming bring together a collection of papers which explore and analyse current developments in public housing in both Europe and East Asia.
This special issue of the journal emerged from a small, international symposium organised by the Urban Research Group at the City University of Hong Kong in August 2011. This issue contains a selection of these papers which were all prepared specially for this event.
The format was roundtable with ample time for discussion. The published papers have benefited from these discussions and in that sense the final product represents a collective enterprise.
The purpose was to highlight some sharp contrasts in terms of future possibilities and policy histories. These
contrasts are perhaps more evident in relation to pasts and presents. Looking to the future, there are common pressures in relation to demographic aging, housing affordability and diverging opportunity structures. But there are also widely varying political, institutional and fiscal capacities to respond to these pressures. There is also a common concern that younger generations have been most exposed to the downsides of more market-oriented housing policies. The general social and economic context would seem to at least indicate the need to review the more single minded policy commitment to the market and home ownership which has dominated the thinking of many governments over the last few decades. The question is where should we go from here? It is perhaps not surprising that there is little consensus or vision regarding what social or public housing might be and what role it should serve in contemporary societies. There is, however, a growing agreement that something must be done. The modest aim of this collection is to contribute to the view that some kind of future(s) for public housing is necessary if the evident strains on low-income households and social structures are to be alleviated.
(Photo by Wojtek Gurak
, Wozoco, designed by MVRDV. Amsterdam)