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The future of public housing : ongoing trends in the East and the West

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This book has explored the state of public housing at the beginning of the twenty-first century across a wide range of societies. In doing so, two key messages emerge. First, public housing systems are embedded in, and are shaped by, distinct social pressures, economic circumstances, political institutions and cultural norms. Temporally and spatially public housing is highly differentiated. This may seem an obvious point but in general discussion of housing systems there is a tendency to assume that markets produce diversity and government and quasi-governmental interventions are intrinsically bound to produce uniformity. In housing debate there is regular reference to the differentiated nature of home ownership but references to public housing still generates a strong monotone image- to extend the metaphor, we tend to think of home ownership in colour but public housing in black and white. National public housing systems have, however, emerged along particular paths, under different circumstances and this means that they will have different trajectories in changing times. A second message relates to uniformity of purpose as opposed to diversity of approach or outcome-namely, public housing as the vehicle to provide accommodation to people who cannot afford to buy in private housing markets or pay market rents. Over time and over space the precise nature of the housing question will vary but public housing always has a social purpose in the broadest sense of addressing a societal need (e.g. better housed workers as part of economic strategy; better housing conditions as better public health; better housing as visible price to pay for political support). The societal need will be multilayered with different interconnected motivations and purposes. Thus, there is unlikely to be a mono-causal explanation for the emergence of public housing. But however nuanced, the role of public housing is to provide housing which would be absent or of unacceptably low quality if left solely to market processes. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. All rights reserved.



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Copyright © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

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ISBN of the source publication: 9783642416217

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Recommended Citation

Forrest, R. (2013). Reflections. In J. Chen, M. Stephens, & Y. Man (Eds.), The future of public housing: Ongoing trends in the East and the West (pp. 303-310). Heidelberg: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-41622-4_17