The Social Bite Village, Scotland

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The Social Bite Village, Scotland

Mismatches Functional adequacy Services Vulnerable groups
Policies and regulations Local policies Public-private initiatives
Urban Design
Promotion and production Public-private partnerships
Ownership and tenure Rental and temporary tenure

Main objectives of the project

The Social Bite Village emerges as an innovative and widely backed community designed to accommodate up to 20 individuals impacted by homelessness. Its primary objective is to furnish the requisite support, residential atmosphere, and avenues for individuals transitioning from homelessness to cultivate self-sufficiency. Originating from dialogues conducted by Social Bite with individuals aided by and employed within their social enterprises, the concept for the Village arose from the insights of those who had previously resided in temporary lodging. They conveyed that B&B accommodations failed to furnish a conducive environment for individuals seeking to break free from homelessness, prompting Social Bite to take proactive measures.

Date

Stakeholders

  • Promotor: Social Bite

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Description

Homelessness constitutes a significant aspect of Edinburgh's housing landscape, with approximately 3000 individuals presently residing in temporary accommodations. The city predominantly relies on private Bed and Breakfasts (B&Bs), an approach that, informed by firsthand experiences, proves limiting in facilitating the establishment of a stable life. For this reason, the Social Bite Village was created.

The Social Bite Village functions as a transitional space rather than a permanent residence, providing residents with support to transition into mainstream tenancies, employment, and education. Comprising 10 "Nest Houses," each shared by two residents along with an additional unit for staff, the Village also features a central Community Hub. This Hub serves as the focal point for community life, offering spaces for communal cooking, dining, and socializing, as well as hosting various training and support activities. Over a span of 12-18 months, the project aids residents in securing permanent accommodations and supports them through this transition period. As individuals move on, new Community Members join, benefiting from support and mentorship from existing community members. Designed to offer refuge to those trapped in temporary accommodations, the Village endeavors to serve as a supportive platform for breaking the cycle of homelessness. The 20 community members residing in the Village were recruited through self-referral and partnerships with other organizations, all having experienced temporary accommodation.

The overarching ambition is to establish a comprehensive solution to homelessness, encompassing housing support and employment opportunities. By doing so, the initiative aims to positively impact some of Scotland's most vulnerable individuals, steering them away from paths dominated by poverty and exclusion and toward ones characterized by compassionate support and inclusion. This endeavor is envisioned to offer a model for addressing homelessness that can be replicated by private individuals, charities, or governments in Scotland and beyond.

Recognizing that the initiative may not serve as a universal solution for all homeless individuals, the focus is on a subset of the homeless population with fewer complex needs, without current addiction issues, and who are motivated by the prospect of living in a community and achieving employment and independent living. The aim is to develop a scalable solution.

One-third of the staff members have firsthand experience with homelessness, so they know what the residents are dealing. Residents are assisted in applying for housing benefits and/or seeking employment to facilitate rent payments. The goal is to secure 80% of the Village's funding through rent payments, with any shortfalls addressed through fundraising efforts. Social Bite commits to an annual fund for the Village, ensuring a consistent level of support for residents. Under the terms of the lease with the city council, no rent or council tax is paid. However, since Social Bite does not own the land, there exists the possibility of relocation after four years, necessitating the design of housing that can be easily transported to a new site.

Communauté Milton Parc, Montreal

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Communauté Milton Parc, Montreal

Mismatches
Policies and regulations Local policies Governance Evictions Participatory processes
Promotion and production Self-management Self-promotion Cooperatives
Ownership and tenure Shared ownership Land ownership

Main objectives of the project

In the 1970s, residents of Milton-Parc rallied against the proposed demolition of their neighborhood, ultimately transforming it into the most extensive cooperative housing endeavor in North America. Presently, the Communauté Milton-Parc / Milton Parc Community (CMP) accommodates over 1500 individuals, structured into a federation comprising 15 housing cooperatives, 6 nonprofit housing initiatives, and a community-operated entity overseeing commercial properties. Notably, the project adopts a distinctive legal framework akin to a community land trust, safeguarding six downtown Montréal blocks from potential speculation and gentrification. Rigorous standards for resident selection prioritize households with limited incomes. Serving as a significant model for communal land ownership, Milton Parc has inspired similar radical housing initiatives worldwide, including the establishment of the Champlain Housing Trust in Vermont, now recognized as the largest community land trust in the United States.

Date

  • 1979: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • Promotor: Communauté Milton Parc

Location

Continent: North America
City: Montreal
Country/Region: Canada, Montreal

Description

The genesis of the Milton Parc project traces back to a tumultuous period in 1968 within a predominantly working-class and immigrant-inhabited district of Montréal. At that time, a real estate developer, now known as Concordia Estates Ltd., embarked on acquiring the majority of the neighborhood with plans to replace its 19th-century greystone Victorian buildings with a sprawling complex encompassing shopping centers and office towers.

Over the span of 1968 to 1979, a coalition of Milton Parc residents orchestrated a series of mobilizations, comprising protests, marches to City Hall, and the establishment of essential community services like health clinics, daycares, and food-buying cooperatives. The commencement of Phase I of the developer's project in 1972 saw some residents forcibly evicted from their dwellings, leading to various forms of resistance, including the occupation of vacant houses and a sit-in at the Concordia offices, which culminated in the arrest of 56 peaceful demonstrators.

Subsequent years witnessed sustained protests that garnered attention from the developer's financial backers, prompting some to withdraw their support. Concurrently, external factors such as the 1972 international oil crisis and preparations for the 1976 Montréal Olympics led to economic instability and inflation, diminishing the value of Concordia Estates' funding and impeding the realization of their full development plan.

In 1977, amidst a shifting political landscape with the Parti Quebecois ascending to power in Quebec's provincial government and economic turbulence prompting businesses to flee the region, Concordia Estates sought to divest the depreciating Milton Parc property. Capitalizing on their decade-long organizing experience and bolstered by political changes, Milton Parc residents rallied support from various stakeholders, including a local heritage conservation nonprofit and a newly established Technical Resource Group comprising financial consultants, lawyers, and architects.

The pivotal moment arrived in 1980 when the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) officially endorsed the residents' Action Plan, paving the way for neighborhood renovations from 1980 to 1987. The financing model hinged on CMHC's purchase of the entire Milton Parc property in 1979 for USD $4.8 million, supplemented by over USD $5 million in subsidies from the CMHC, the Quebec Government, and the City of Montréal. The remaining expenses were covered through mortgage loans, with the CMHC ensuring favorable interest rates over a 35-year period to maintain rent affordability based on original rates, inclusive of minor increases to cover expenses.

Legally, the establishment of the Communauté Milton-Parc (CMP) in 1987 introduced a novel legal framework, delineating it as a "condominium for social purposes." Under this structure, housing cooperatives and nonprofits collectively own the properties, while sharing responsibilities for maintenance and services. The CMP oversees neighborhood transformation through a community-run nonprofit, resembling a community land trust model but with collective ownership of public spaces and individual ownership of buildings by cooperatives. Strict regulations outlined in the CMP's Declaration of Co-ownership safeguard against unauthorized transactions, ensuring adherence to democratic principles and self-management within the cooperatives. This intricate legal and financial arrangement underscores the residents' commitment to preserving affordable housing and fostering community-driven development.

The CMP shares similarities with a community land trust (CLT), but there are distinct differences in ownership structures. Typically, in a CLT model, the land is solely owned by the trust. However, in Milton Parc, the CMP collectively owns the land surrounding each building, including streets and public spaces, while the cooperatives own both their buildings and the land directly underneath. Similar to a land trust, any property transaction within the CMP must adhere to strict regulations outlined in the CMP’s 'Declaration of Co-ownership,' signed by all co-ops and nonprofits in 1987. Democratic self-management is central to the cooperatives' operations, with activities required to align with the principles outlined in the CMP’s Declaration of Co-ownership.

The case of Milton Parc underscores the significance of grassroots activism in securing affordable housing. Through organized resistance and community mobilization, residents were able to challenge powerful real estate interests and shape the development trajectory of their neighborhood. By leveraging political shifts and external economic factors, they successfully negotiated for governmental support and financial assistance, ultimately establishing a sustainable model of cooperative housing. This example highlights how democratic participation and collective action can effectively address housing inequalities and empower marginalized communities to shape their living environments.

Wiener Wohnen’s Case Managament (Vienna)

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Wiener Wohnen’s Case Managament (Vienna)

Mismatches Vulnerable groups
Policies and regulations Local policies Governance Evictions

Main objectives of the project

Wiener Wohnen's goal is to offer affordable housing to low-income individuals, particularly vulnerable groups unable to secure private market housing. Yet, many social housing units suffer from non-payment or anti-social behavior. For this reason, Wiener Wohnen launched the Case Management service in 2017. This initiative employs social workers to assist tenants at risk of eviction due to financial or behavioral issues. Preventing evictions saves significant costs and reduces human suffering, with the program proving effective by contacting 85% of at-risk tenants and annulling 70% of potential evictions. This model not only supports tenants but also promotes social responsibility and sustainable practices, making it a replicable solution for other housing companies.

Date

  • 2017: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • Wiener Wohnen

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Austria, Vienna

Description

The goal of Wiener Wohnen, a public social housing company, is to offer affordable and adequate accommodation to low-income individuals. In municipal housing blocks, the proportion of people at risk of poverty, disadvantaged, or unemployed is generally much higher than in other housing forms. Wiener Wohnen pursues a “social allocation of accommodation” scheme for vulnerable individuals who cannot access affordable housing in the private market. Approximately 900 households are evicted from municipal housing each year due to non-payment of rent or anti-social behavior, affecting around 1,800 people annually. Analysis shows that many of those affected do not establish contact with Wiener Wohnen, either after receiving a court order or before eviction. Economically, each eviction costs the housing company at least €10,000 and causes immense human suffering. There are hidden costs for the local government related to caring for homeless people. Scientific findings indicate that eviction is particularly disastrous for children, with 350 minors affected each year. Losing their home, friends, and surroundings is a traumatic experience.

To address this, Wiener Wohnen launched their new Case Management service in March 2017. The aim is to prevent evictions through the intervention of social workers. This program organizes professional assistance for tenants in difficult circumstances, such as high rental arrears or signs of anti-social behavior due to mental health problems, substance abuse, dementia, or compulsive hoarding. This approach creates a "win-win situation" for all parties involved. Preventing evictions avoids human misery and the displacement of tenants, along with all associated negative effects. Additionally, it results in significant savings. For the City of Vienna, it also reduces costs since municipal housing is cheaper than providing accommodation in homeless shelters. Another objective is to increase public awareness of social responsibility and sustainability by creating a professional interface between housing companies and social organizations. Case Management helps maintain stable neighborhoods and reduces conflicts in municipal housing, occasionally leading to positive media coverage. Internally, the work of the Case Management team enriches corporate culture by bringing new skills and knowledge to the company, helping employees identify with the socially responsible company concept.

Wiener Wohnen is the only property management company in Vienna employing social workers to prevent evictions or assist people in difficult circumstances. Social workers have a significant and permanent role within the company, acting as an interface with all other relevant social stakeholders in Vienna. A unique qualitative catalogue of services was created for social workers to fill in for each case, allowing for an accurate description of specific services available for tenants and more professional case evaluations. Wiener Wohnen has developed its own software (database) for cases, compliant with GDPR. Due to its high quality, this database is already in demand by other municipal departments. Systematic data collection allows for the permanent optimization of internal procedures.

Case Management was successful in contacting 85% of tenants who had not reached out to Wiener Wohnen regarding an eviction notice. In about 70% of completed cases, the eviction was annulled because tenants had either paid their rent (33%) or entered into an installment agreement (36%). In about 26% of cases, tenants did not wish to cooperate with the social workers or could not be reached. Only 5% of completed cases resulted in evictions.

As a social municipal landlord, Wiener Wohnen benefits tenants by preventing evictions, human misery, and displacement while also saving unnecessary costs for the housing company and the City of Vienna. This service, which took 12 months to establish, is replicable in any socially responsible housing company.

DC Flex, Washington DC

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DC Flex, Washington DC

Mismatches Vulnerable groups
Policies and regulations Local policies Governance Data and monitoring Evaluation and impact Evictions
Financing Public funding Demand subsidies
Ownership and tenure Protection of social housing

Main objectives of the project

The housing crisis in the US, particularly affecting Washington DC, prompted the introduction of the DC Flexible Rent Subsidy Program (DC Flex) in 2017, aiming to assist middle-class individuals and low-income families facing delays in traditional housing assistance. Unlike existing programs like housing choice vouchers (HCVs) and rapid rehousing (RRH), DC Flex offers fixed subsidies to extremely low-income households, providing flexibility in rent payments and serving as a financial safety net for those living paycheck to paycheck. A study conducted after its first year of implementation revealed positive outcomes, with the program effectively maintaining housing stability and reducing homelessness rates among participants to just 1.8%. This measure do not only offer good results, but it is a good practice of governance with NGOs and of simplification of administrative burden.

Date

  • 2017: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • District of Columbia Council

Location

Continent: North America
Country/Region: United States of America, Washington D.C.

Description

The housing crisis gripping the United States has put immense pressure on Washington DC's housing market. Despite traditional and federal subsidies, the District of Columbia found itself grappling with a complex situation, particularly in aiding middle-class individuals. While many low-income families qualify for housing choice vouchers (HCVs), the lengthy waiting lists often delay assistance. Rapid rehousing (RRH) programs offer short-term rental subsidies, but their long-term effectiveness is uncertain. To bridge this gap, the DC Flexible Rent Subsidy Program (DC Flex) was introduced in 2017 as a four-year pilot initiative, funded by a $5 million appropriation from the District of Columbia Council and supported by Mayor Muriel Bowser.

DC Flex targets extremely low-income households, comprising those earning up to 30 percent of the area median income, with at least one employed adult and children. Participants must have recently sought emergency or temporary housing assistance and reside in a legal rental unit within the city. The program aims to prevent eviction for families living paycheck to paycheck. Each household enrolled in DC Flex receives a checking account and an escrow account containing the full $7,200 subsidy balance. This subsidy can only be used for rent payments, with participants granted flexibility in allocating funds. In other words, each month they can choose how much money of the fund they use to pay the rent. Capital Area Asset Builders, a District-based financial education nonprofit, manages the program, transferring funds from the escrow account to the checking account monthly to cover rent expenses. Unlike HCVs, DC Flex subsidies remain fixed regardless of changes in income or household size, serving as a financial safety net for low-income families facing income disruptions.

A study conducted after the first year of implementation found that DC Flex was successfully launched and managed. The Urban Institute, responsible for the assessment, recommends DC Flex as a viable alternative to existing housing services based on initial findings. Focus groups highlighted the program's role in maintaining housing stability, particularly for families ineligible for other subsidy programs or exiting RRH. Over time, program adjustments have extended the eligibility period to five years and increased the subsidy amount to over $8,000. However, once participants' earnings exceed 40% of the Area Median Income, their benefits cease. Notably, upon program completion, families gain unconditional access to any remaining funds in their account, effectively transforming it into a Basic Income. With only 1.8% of participants experiencing homelessness after exiting the program, DC Flex demonstrates promising outcomes compared to control groups.

Aalborg East - from an isolated vulnerable area to an inclusive community

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Aalborg East - from an isolated vulnerable area to an inclusive community

Policies and regulations Local policies Land Building capacity Public-private initiatives Participatory processes
Urban Design Urban fabrics Liveability Inclusion Public-private initiative Participatory processes
Ownership and tenure Protection of social housing Public-private partnerships

Main objectives of the project

An isolated an deprived residential area in Denmark's fourth-largest city had, since its construction in the 1960s and 70s, experienced increasing decline and negative spiral. Now, Aalborg East is a mixed community, with a vivid atmosphere and centered on the well-being of its citizens. It has become a story of success in social housing policies in Europe.

Date

  • 2011: Construction
  • 2023: Ganador

Stakeholders

  • Promotor: Aalborg Municipality
  • Constructor: Himmerland Boligforening

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Denmark

Description

Aalborg East, originally established as a satellite city in the 1970s, faced significant challenges over the past years, characterized by deteriorating old buildings, primarily comprised of social housing, and a declining economy leading to escalating issues of unemployment and crime. Recognizing the urgent need for intervention, a comprehensive urban transformation initiative was launched, encompassing the renovation of over 2,000 affordable homes. This ambitious endeavor was guided by two fundamental principles: the promotion of a diverse community and the active engagement of local residents throughout the process. Thus, homes were renovated, new shops were added, private homes were built and several social initiatives were adopted. Residents sat at the table as urban planners, so no homes have been demolished, and no residents have been displaced.
The whole process has been vastly affected by tenant democracy. There were building committees consisting of tenants, and every major decision was made at attendant meetings. Strong and strategic partnerships with both the public and private sector were also central because a housing association cannot do it all by themselves. For example, construction fields have been sold to private investors to densify some areas with freestanding house blocks and to diversify the economy.
In conclusion, the renovations were completed by using a variety of building types, appealing to a wider residential composition. Moreover, new infraestructure was put in place to foster the new mixed community. For instance, a new health house was built where training courses are in place, which makes the area more visible for people who would not visit Aalborg East daily. It is fair to say that the Danish social housing provider Himmerland Boligforening went further than usual, leading the way in Europe on how to integrate social housing tenants in the strategic city development as well as making them active city planners. The results are astonishing. Now Aalborg East is an area of well-being with safe areas, no crime, and great economic growth.
In 2023, the project won the NEB awards in “Prioritising the places and people that need it the most”.

How (un)affordable?, Belgrade

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How (un)affordable?, Belgrade

Mismatches Location Price Functional adequacy Vulnerable groups
Policies and regulations Governance Data and monitoring Evaluation and impact Price control

Main objectives of the project

CMMM, a research project aimed at supporting civil society actors in fostering political transformation, employs critical mapping as a powerful tool to address housing affordability issues in Belgrade. Despite a high percentage of privately owned housing units, a significant portion of the population struggles to access affordable housing due to rising rents and inadequate government intervention. The interactive map, "How (un)affordable is housing in Belgrade?", provides insights into available housing units based on income and preferences, empowering the MoS movement to advocate for rent control legislation and highlighting the potential of data-driven activism in addressing societal challenges.

Date

  • 2023: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • CMMM
  • Ministry of Space

Location

Continent: Europe
Country/Region: Belgrade, Republic of Serbia

Description

CMMM, a practice-oriented research endeavor, was conceived to bolster civil society actors in their endeavors for equitable societies and cities through profound political transformation. Municipalist mobilizers, in their pursuit of altering power dynamics, constantly innovate instruments and mediums. The project prioritized critical mapping as it represents an "act of power," transcending mere theorization to present diverse perspectives on realities, fostering narrative and discourse shifts. Among our interactive maps focusing on housing in European cities, one spotlights Belgrade. Titled "How (un)affordable is housing in Belgrade?" this map aids visitors in grasping the magnitude of the housing issue. It draws from data scraping of housing rental and purchase offers in Belgrade, conducted by VI in May 2022 and again in March 2023. Designed for easy personalization and integration into social media campaigns, it serves as a tool for raising awareness on the topic.

Belgrade stands out for having a high percentage of privately owned housing units (over 95%), yet approximately 80% of its population struggles to access decent and affordable housing. Despite growing private investment in real estate, inadequate housing conditions and evictions due to tenant indebtedness are increasingly common, leaving many households without viable housing solutions. The prevailing approach to addressing housing needs is through the market, but rising rents outpace average incomes, limiting affordable options for most. The proliferation of short-lease rental units, facilitated by platforms like Airbnb, exacerbates the situation, pushing long-term renters into precarious positions with unregulated landlord relations. Over the past three decades, successive center and center-right governments have failed to address this reality or collect comprehensive data to understand the issue, let alone devise sustainable measures for improvement.

The Belgrade city team of CMMM, affiliated with the Ministry of Space (MoS) collective, has long been engaged in scrutinizing urban development dynamics and spatial injustices, with housing as a key focus. Their activities range from studying alternative affordable housing models to advocating for progressive housing solutions and participating in initiatives against forced evictions. Critical mapping, a ubiquitous tool in urban research and activism worldwide, has been integrated into their agenda, enabling the development of critical perspectives, research, and tools to challenge existing realities.

Through "How (un)affordable is housing in Belgrade?" individuals can compare available housing units based on their income and preferences, offering insights into affordability across different areas. This tool has been leveraged by the MoS movement to advocate for rent control legislation. Additionally, as part of the Belgrade project, CMMM has mapped the various stakeholders involved in proposed rent regulation and potential scenarios for its implementation. The approach taken by CMMM Belgrade exemplifies how data can empower social movements to mobilize for improvements in housing affordability, showcasing the potential for data-driven activism in addressing pressing societal issues.

Buy Back Berlin

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Buy Back Berlin

Policies and regulations Global frameworks Governance Data and monitoring Public-private initiatives Participatory processes
Ownership and tenure Rental and temporary tenure Protection of social housing

Main objectives of the project

CMMM, a research initiative focused on practical applications, was established to empower civil society actors in their efforts towards creating fairer societies and cities through significant political change. Municipalist mobilizers, dedicated to reshaping power dynamics, continually innovate tools and methods. Critical mapping was given precedence within the project as it represents an "act of power," moving beyond mere theoretical discourse to offer diverse perspectives on realities, catalyzing shifts in narratives and discourse. Among their interactive maps spotlighting housing in European cities, the "Buy Back Berlin!" map stands out. Utilizing acquired datasets and incorporating crowdsourcing options, it serves as an informative platform for civic initiatives striving to resist capitalist dispossession by advocating for the application of the right of preemption in Berlin.

Date

  • 2023: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • CMMM

Location

Continent: Europe
City: Berlin
Country/Region: Berlin, Germany

Description

Berlin, where approximately 85% of households are tenants, relies heavily on the availability and affordability of housing units for its residents' livelihoods. The city's socio-economic and spatial landscape, shaped by its division until 1989, fostered opportunities for self-realization due to ample spaces and affordable rents, alongside strong socio-cultural communities and initiatives. However, following reunification in 1990, neoliberal investments surged, facilitated by political agreements that favored neoliberalism and the sale of former East German assets. Consequently, state-owned housing decreased to about a third of its previous holdings despite population growth.

Over the past two decades, extensive mobilization by civic initiatives advocating for affordable housing rights has led to efforts by the city to reclaim lost housing stock. Nonetheless, large real estate firms and financialization persistently inflate purchase prices and rents, driving tenant displacement through gentrification. The "Buy Back Berlin" map aims to provide information on "Gemeinwohl" (common good) organizations in Berlin dedicated to acquiring, maintaining, or protecting affordable housing for tenants. It serves as a testament to ongoing efforts in the city's housing scene and a call to policymakers for transformative housing policies.

The map features sections for "Need Information," where individuals can ask to seek information about their landlords or supporting organizations; "Take Action," allowing tenants to assert their rights, showing their willingness to act and inform others; and "Offer Support," where organizations can register to assist those in need and contact those how want to act to maintain their houses. Hence, the map function as a link between stakeholders in the city to form coalitions between people in need, people willing to act and organizations who can support both of them. Additionally, the map displays the outcomes of the municipal right of preemption, an instrumental tool until a court ruling in November 2021, which allowed municipalities to intervene against hyper-commercialization in collaboration with tenants and socially responsible real estate companies. The right consists on being the first to be able to buy (at the same price) when there is a transaction of a landlord with a third party. This helped a lot to restore the public and affordable stock of housing in the city. Now, with a poster, CMMM is fighting to restore this right, showing what has achieved in the past with the map.

The Berlin map puts together a network of stakeholders to push for affordable housing. Moreover, helps to show the usefulness of old tools and fight for the need of restoring them. Thus, it shows how critical maps can foster new and old solutions to the housing crisis.

Alerta desnonaments: Anti-eviction map, Barcelona

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Alerta desnonaments: Anti-eviction map, Barcelona

Policies and regulations Data and monitoring Evaluation and impact Evictions Participatory processes

Main objectives of the project

CMMM, a research initiative focused on practical applications, was established to empower civil society actors in their efforts towards creating fairer societies and cities through significant political change. Municipalist mobilizers, dedicated to reshaping power dynamics, continually innovate tools and methods. Critical mapping was given precedence within the project as it represents an "act of power," moving beyond mere theoretical discourse to offer diverse perspectives on realities, catalyzing shifts in narratives and discourse. Among their interactive maps spotlighting housing in European cities, the “Stop Evictions” map stands out. Using the historical data about evictions in the city of Barcelona, it helps putting toghther people to avoid them in the future.

Date

  • 2023: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • Observatori DESC
  • CMMM

Location

Continent: Europe
City: Barcelona
Country/Region: Barcelona, Spain

Description

Barcelona has long been a vibrant, politically charged city, where various movements and organizations converge and emerge. Following the downfall of the Franco dictatorship, urban struggles have become integral to the city's fabric, notably gaining momentum around the time of the 1992 Olympics and subsequent developments. The 1990s witnessed significant economic liberalization and deregulation, with a diminishing governmental role to accommodate capitalist investors. However, the financial crisis of 2008, stemming from the United States, catalyzed a housing crisis in Barcelona, reshaping social interventions and becoming a prominent concern for citizens.

The reforms mandated by the European Financial Stabilization Mechanism, later transitioning into the European Stability Mechanism, precipitated a shift in the housing emergency from mass foreclosures linked to mortgage defaults to a rental crisis between 2013 and 2015. Presently, approximately 40% of Barcelona's population are renters, far exceeding the Spanish average of 25%, exacerbating issues of affordability. Housing policies in Spain lag behind much of Europe, characterized by deteriorating buildings, particularly in the historic district due to intentional neglect. Moreover, soaring prices relative to income, scant social housing provision at only 1.6% of the total stock, and minimal tenant protections underscore the severity of the situation. The city's status as a premier European tourist destination further compounds the housing crisis, driving up demand for lodging and threatening locals' access to housing and a non-commercialized neighborhood life.

The CMMM Barcelona team is affiliated with Observatori DESC, a hybrid human rights organization fostering collaboration between urban social movements, the city administration, and academia, focuses on advocating for progressive laws and policies. Within their scope of work on the right to the city, Observatori DESC prioritizes ensuring the social use of housing as a prerequisite for dignified living. Their advocacy encompasses initiatives to increase public and affordable housing, implement innovative, rights-based social policies to combat evictions, and address abuses by large landlords, such as expulsions and harassment. At the legislative and judicial levels, efforts are concentrated on curbing exorbitant housing costs through measures like rent controls and outlawing entities like Desokupa, which employ intimidation tactics during evictions.

In the context of the CMMM project, Observatori DESC collaborated with housing organizations and movements to explore the application of critical mapping in documenting, mobilizing, and advocating for changes in housing discourses. Specifically, they investigated methods to delineate and document eviction occurrences and organize resistance against them. The "Stop Eviction" maps provide crucial insights. Firstly, they detail interventions by civil society anti-eviction organizations during evictions between 2016 and 2022, identifying involved property owners and outcomes. This sheds light on the principal actors in eviction processes and organizational resistance efforts. Secondly, impending evictions are mapped out, empowering individuals to preemptively act against them.

Both maps serve as invaluable tools in addressing Barcelona's housing crisis, offering insights into landlord behaviors and guiding efforts to support tenants. They facilitate a better understanding of eviction dynamics and avenues for community engagement.

Johannesburg Housing Company

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Johannesburg Housing Company

Mismatches Location
Policies and regulations Local policies Public-private initiatives
Financing Supply subsidies
Promotion and production Public-private partnerships Private promotion Favelas/Slums

Main objectives of the project

When addressing informal settlements and the relocation of their residents, the common solution often involves outskirts due to their affordability. Typically, a large proportion of slum dwellers gravitate towards the outskirts of cities. However, Johannesburg has adopted a different approach. In efforts to rejuvenate its downtown area, the city has embraced an alternative strategy. Through the utilization of a non-profit institution, Johannesburg has implemented social housing initiatives within its city center. By repurposing abandoned or deteriorating buildings, the city has not only revitalized its downtown core but also provided much-needed social housing options.

Date

  • 1995: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • SHRA
  • Promotor: JHC

Location

Continent: Africa
Country/Region: Johannesburg, South Africa

Description

In South Africa, a significant portion of tenants reside in informal settlements, with over 400,000 housing units constructed on unauthorized land lacking basic services and vulnerable to environmental hazards like floods and fires. Between 2001 and 2011, the number of shacks erected in the backyards of existing dwellings surged by 55%, totaling more than 700,000 units. Despite the existence of the Social Housing Policy since 1994, the establishment of the regulatory authority (SHRA) in 2010 marked notable progress. The Minister of Human Settlements pledged the delivery of 1.5 million new housing opportunities by 2019.

Social housing projects are financed through a blend of government funds, debt, and up to 10% from for-profit private capital. The national government, via the SHRA, subsidizes up to 65% of capital costs and allows subsidized units for tenants meeting specific monthly family income thresholds. These subsidized units must constitute between 30% and 70% of all mixed projects.

Investment opportunities include the Social Housing Institution (SHI) model, where non-profit entities or owners undertake projects inclusive of social housing. Currently, around 83 SHIs have been established, delivering approximately 33,000 units nationwide. However, while the number of institutions is on the rise, the rate of unit development hasn't matched, leading to financial challenges for many. Only six out of the 83 institutions are financially stable, with an additional 25 potentially viable.

In Johannesburg, two SHIs have demonstrated remarkable success. One such entity is the Johannesburg Housing Company (JHC), founded in 1995, which has pioneered an innovative affordable housing model with efficient building management and exemplary customer service. It has facilitated the development of over 4,293 rental housing units, providing homes for more than 19,478 individuals. JHC's efforts have played a pivotal role in revitalizing downtown Johannesburg, transforming dilapidated or abandoned buildings into modern architecture units. The company utilizes two components of the rental housing policy: urban restructuring zones declaration and the Inner City Property Scheme (ICPS), formerly known as the Bad Building Program.

Initial funding provided to JHC enabled it to establish a solid capital base necessary for large-scale social housing development in the downtown area. By the late 2000s, JHC had a portfolio comprising nine renovated buildings and two new construction projects. The organization's cost management strategy ensures each building covers its operating costs, including interest on operating income.

Contrary to traditional urban regeneration strategies focused solely on economic growth, JHC's approach emphasizes building improvements, renovations, and new constructions to increase the city's housing stock by approximately 10% while rejuvenating rundown structures to provide affordable rents and decent housing. However, the future of social rental housing faces challenges, particularly regarding the diminishing availability of affordable land in restructuring zones.

Dublin Housing Observatory

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Dublin Housing Observatory

Policies and regulations Local policies Governance Data and monitoring Evaluation and impact

Main objectives of the project

The Dublin Housing Observatory (DHO) is a pioneering research unit within Dublin City Council, guided by an independent advisory board. It leads the council's efforts in housing, planning, economic development, inclusion, and integration, with a dedicated team reporting to senior management. Committed to providing evidence-based insights, the DHO strives to create an affordable and sustainable living environment in Dublin by fortifying housing policies with robust empirical foundations and managing crucial data on pricing, rentals, vacancies, zoning laws, etc.

Date

  • 2019: Implementation

Stakeholders

  • Dublin City Council
  • AIRO

Location

Continent: Europe
City: Dublin
Country/Region: Dublin, Ireland

Description

The Dublin Housing Observatory (DHO), a novel research unit within Dublin City Council, is steered by an independent advisory board and spearheads the council's multifaceted approach to housing, planning, economic development, inclusion, and integration. It comprises a dedicated team of three professionals under senior management's guidance, reporting to the Deputy Chief Executive in Housing and Community Services.

At its core, the DHO is committed to furnishing evidence that informs housing policy and enhances operational efficacy. Embracing its mission to foster an affordable and sustainable living environment in Dublin, the Observatory strives to fortify housing and urban development strategies with rigorous empirical foundations. It acts as a custodian of crucial data encompassing pricing trends, rental landscapes, vacant properties, and zoning dynamics.

With a clear vision in mind, the Dublin Housing Observatory delineates four primary objectives. Firstly, it aims to bolster Dublin City Council's efforts in delivering top-tier social and affordable housing solutions while nurturing sustainable communities. Secondly, it positions itself as a vibrant knowledge-exchange hub, fostering dialogue and collaboration in policy design, analysis, and implementation within the realms of housing and urban development. Furthermore, the DHO serves as a pivotal research nexus, generating insights crucial for evidence-based decision-making across housing and its allied domains, including planning, economic development, inclusion, and integration. Lastly, it assumes the mantle of a data navigator, offering stakeholders, the public, and elected representatives an objective compass through the intricate dynamics of Dublin's housing system and market.

Since its inception, the Dublin Housing Observatory has made significant strides. From the launch of a comprehensive Mapping Viewer, in partnership with AIRO and OSi, to the publication of an insightful report on the city's Rapid Build Programme, the Observatory has enriched public discourse and policymaking with invaluable data and analysis. Moreover, its contributions extend to informing strategic initiatives, supporting departmental reviews, and fostering collaborative events attended by national and international stakeholders, reinforcing its pivotal role in shaping Dublin's housing landscape.