Segregation in European Social Housing- A Path to Move Forward

The International Social Housing Festival is underway in Amsterdam and is bringing many interesting minds from academia, social housing companies and other think tanks together.  Today we had the opportunity to hear from

Maartin van Ham who is a professor of Urban Renewal at the University of Delft spoke about segregation and inequality.  He brought out that the gap is increasing and that in global cities we are seeing more low-income and high-income households but less middle-class.  Most of this has to do with the many jobs that are disappearing.  To give an example of the differences in countries, the speaker brought out that the UK is one of the most unequal countries while the Netherlands is trending better but there are still issues.  The speaker brought out that housing provision and re-distribution of income is a major driver of inequality.

13 European Country Study:

Does increasing income inequality also lead to increasing spatial segregation and poverty? The research by the speaker and 13 teams in different European countries found that inequality and segregation go hand and hand.

This social-economic segregation is increasing due to increasing inequality, globalization, changes in labor market, immigration of low skilled people and decreasing investment in social housing.  The poor and rich are increasingly living separated.  The rich often live in different areas from than the poor.  Segregation by income often has a huge strong ethnic component as well.  The negative consequences lead to social division, reduction in social cohesion and increasing social conflict as well as rising crime rates.   The issues bleed over to create negative neighborhood issues including in education, employment and health infrastructures.   The effect on children/students is also clear.  Research shows that children born in a poorer part of the city tend to stay in those areas.  This has an effect on the income for 20 years after these children move out.

Conclusion

Interestingly the speaker argues that many minorities and races like to live with each other so policy makers should not be patronizing when it comes to policy creation in regards to segregation.   Instead, Professor van Ham said that investing in upgrading in neighborhoods is important and can have positive impacts on combating segregation.  He also mentioned strong public transportation networks.  He also argued that we should be investing in people and take a long-term perspective on solving poverty.  Education in this regards is the key.   He said, “This is a fight that takes a generation.”- go to www.segreationeurope.eu for more.

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