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Anna Martin

ESR7

Anna Martin has a background in environmental social science and holds a double degree from the Master Program in Environmental Science (EnvEuro) from the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) and SLU (Sweden). She completed her studies with a specialisation in Environmental Management to be able to move between science, policy and practice.

Originally from Hungary, she has lived and worked in Denmark, Sweden, France and in the USA. Her experiences with private foundations, consultancies and governmental authorities added to her strong interest in development projects based on specific societal (democratic, sustainability) issues.

Anna will be working on the research project “Housing crisis and its impact on adequate housing” (ESR7), based at the Institute for Sociology, Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre of Excellence (Budapest).

Research topic

Updated sumaries

September, 11, 2023

May, 14, 2022

Housing crisis and its impact on adequate housing

 

In 2021 the European Parliament finally responded to the housing crisis, calling member states of the union to recognize adequate housing as a fundamental human right. Adequate and affordable housing in the different Member States of the European Union is inseparable from European and international politics. However, the success is heavily dependent on the attitude of Member States, on how much they are willing to use their discretion and develop a new standard of housing policies with a focus on social inclusion (with addressing both regional and social inequalities), economic effectiveness, and environmental protection.

 

Housing is a social need, as it is at the heart of our daily lives. It affects the longevity of our civilization. Member states must be willing to invest in social housing with the help of European Cohesion Funds (e.g., ERDG, ESF+, Just Transition Fund, or Next Generation EU) and beyond. The European Semester provides the Member States with a forum where they can discuss fiscal, policy, and economic challenges and transfer good practices from one country to another, overcoming institutional differences. There is a need to address the issues of housing affordability, lack of access to housing finance, increasing segregation, homelessness, and deteriorating housing situations. Marginalized societal values are requesting center stage during these critical times. Agency is often removed from vulnerable groups, and they cannot exercise their right to adequate housing (including the security of tenure, access to services and materials, facilities, and infrastructure, affordability, habitability, accessibility, location, and cultural appropriateness).

 

This research aims to investigate the housing crises in Europe both at the individual level and at the level of society. Including both the macro and the micro-level, it will be demonstrated how individual and structural factors are interlinked and contribute to housing issues together.

 

Sub-topics:

  1. The main causal mechanisms caused by the underlying and conflicting paradigms (”Enable Housing Market” / ”Housing for All”) (Hegedüs, 2021) will be examined in the context of two countries: Croatia and Hungary. Both countries were affected by the wealth-creating feature of housing as a commodity that has been reinforced over time, which inevitably made housing costs more expensive. Despite the optimistic expectations of the decades following the Second World War, social and territorial inequalities increased, and a new housing precariat emerged as the socio-economic position of the middle class became unstable. With a particularistic nature, the research will rehabilitate the ´juxtapositional approach´ (Kemeny and Lowe, 1998) and describe the contrast and similarities between the two countries.

 

  1. Housing affordability is a primary driver of precarity, affecting both upward and downward mobility. A growing number of middle-income people have difficulty affording adequate housing in Europe, facing safety concerns, as they can only access unhealthy, low-quality, energy-inefficient, or overcrowded housing options. Their situation has become fragile partly because of the liberalized labour market, or the system abandoned them due to the cuts in the welfare state. Meanwhile, the number of evicted and homeless people is also rising. The planned output of this research is to correct misinterpretations of the concept of the precariat and to explore the new meaning(s) of risk society. Also, to examine clashing vulnerabilities between marginalized people and increasingly downwardly mobile people from the middle classes (as they are competing for the same resources).

 

  1. The built environment profoundly impacts our mental, emotional, and physical well-being and promotes empowerment. This study explores the role of trauma-informed design in the supportive housing sector, where people often live with complex needs. In the form of a conceptual paper, the knowledge and expertise of academic and non-academic members of our society (particularly those in the housing and care sector) will be synthesized to explore the opportunities and challenges of implementing psychologically informed design principles. It is argued that considering these fundamental principles should be a crucial aspect of any effective social housing program, whether at the European, national, or local level. The results go beyond the boundaries of specific scientific disciplines, offering a convergence of different theoretical perspectives.

 

Hegedüs, J. (2021). Limits and Options for Affordable Housing Policies. Housing governance to support housing affordability. UNECE Regional Online Workshop. 

 

Kemeny, J., and S. Lowe. (1998). “Schools of Comparative Housing Research: From Convergence to

Divergence.” Housing Studies 13 (2): 161–176. doi:10.1080/02673039883380.

 

Housing crisis and its impact on adequate housing - The new housing precariat in Denmark and Hungary

 

In 2021 the European Parliament finally responded to the housing crisis, calling member states of the union to recognize adequate housing as a fundamental human right. Adequate and affordable housing in the different Member States of the European Union is inseparable from European and international politics. However, the success is heavily dependent on the attitude of Member States, on how much they are willing to use their discretion and develop a new standard of housing policies with a focus on social inclusion (with addressing both regional and social inequalities), economic effectiveness, and environmental protection.

 

Housing is a social need, as it is at the heart of our daily lives. It affects the longevity of our civilization. Member states must be willing to invest in social housing with the help of European Cohesion Funds (e.g., ERDG, ESF+, Just Transition Fund, or Next Generation EU) and beyond. The European Semester provides the Member States with a forum where they can discuss fiscal, policy, and economic challenges and transfer good practices from one country to another, overcoming institutional differences. There is a need to address the issues of housing affordability, lack of access to housing finance, increasing segregation, homelessness, and deteriorating housing situations. Marginalized societal values are requesting center stage during these critical times. Agency (“the ability to act”)(Valentine, 2001, p.349) is often removed from vulnerable groups, and they cannot exercise their right to adequate housing (including the security of tenure, access to services and materials, facilities, and infrastructure, affordability, habitability, accessibility, location, and cultural appropriateness).

 

This research aims to investigate the housing crises in Europe both at the individual level and at the level of society. Including both the macro and the micro-level, it will be demonstrated how individual and structural factors are interlinked and contribute to housing issues together. The main causal mechanisms caused by the underlying and conflicting paradigms (”Enable Housing Market” / ”Housing for All”) (Hegedüs, 2021) will be examined in the context of two countries: Denmark and Hungary. Both countries were affected by the wealth-creating feature of housing as a commodity that has been reinforced over time, which inevitably made housing costs more expensive. Despite the optimistic expectations of the decades following the Second World War, social and territorial inequalities increased, and a new housing precariat emerged as the socio-economic position of the middle class became unstable.

 

With a particularistic nature, the research will rehabilitate the ´juxtapositional approach´ (Kemeny and Lowe, 1998) and describe the contrast between the two countries (e.g.: different political economies, social security systems, regime types). Also, a new framework will be developed, to differentiate marginalized groups (people in extreme poverty) from the precariat (low- and middle-income groups in precarious housing situations).

 

The research would employ a mixed research design to reach its objective. After desktop research, it will experiment with the role of action research in housing studies to nurture a transdisciplinary understanding. There is a hypothesis that action research would be able to overcome the split between local initiatives at the action level and their societal potentials on the macro level, and it would be able to connect the pillars (community participation/policy and financing/design, planning and building) of the RE-DWELL ITN research project. Results of the research will enable the researcher to have an intelligent estimate of the forces that caused the housing crises and provide the reader with theoretically informed and empirically verified knowledge about the best practices in affordable housing options and policy solutions.

 

In short, this study will highlight the brutal consequences of the shift from a general welfare approach (where housing is a societal pillar) to a neoliberal housing market and provide both: a systematic overview and personal stories to show the full spectrum of issues of the housing crises in Europe.

 

Hegedüs, J. (2021). Limits and Options for Affordable Housing Policies. Housing governance to support housing affordability. UNECE Regional Online Workshop. 

 

Kemeny, J., and S. Lowe. (1998). “Schools of Comparative Housing Research: From Convergence to

Divergence.” Housing Studies 13 (2): 161–176. doi:10.1080/02673039883380.

 

Valentine G. (2001). Social Geographies: Space and Society.

Prentice Hall: London.

Reference documents

Reference documents

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Social Sustainability in post-communist countries

Posted on 18-09-2023

During my secondment at CERANEO, I gained valuable knowledge about housing needs in Croatia and about the causes and effects of homelessness together with the various programs and interventions that can be used to prevent and reduce homelessness. I also learned about advocacy and how to collaborate with civil society organizations to achieve social change.   I am grateful for the opportunity to meet with such dedicated and passionate people, like Mr. Zvonko Mlinar (Croatian Network for the Homeless), Professor Olja Druzic Ljubotina (University of Zagreb, Faculty of Law, Department of Social Work) and Maja Bukovšak (Croatian National Bank). In the case of the Croatioan Network for the Homeless, I had an insight into the work of the network. I saw the “different faces” of homelessness and how the network continues to advocate for the rights of homeless people and to promote policies that will improve their lives. Hopefully, Housing First can be proven effective in Croatia, helping homeless people find and maintain permanent housing.   My visit to the Croatian National Bank was useful for my macro investigations. I familiarized myself with statistics and different studies (about relevant provisions, and loan schemes that are/were unique or highly relevant) that can help my work. I checked out and discussed the proportion of housing loans compared to GDP (total outstanding residential loans to GDP ratio), also, I looked for information about existing subsidies, the number of transactions per year, and the characteristics of the system of housing finance. (We discussed questions, such as: Is there a relevant difference between the number of “investment” loans - and the number of traditional housing loans? What are your thoughts about the relevance of spatial inequalities in the country? What do you think of the importance of Euro? Is there a correlation between housing loans and housing costs? Who is the main target group of housing loans?  What do you think about the role and consequences of inflation these days? What do you think about the risk of people not paying back loans?  Do you see significant patterns in building permits/housing completions? Is there an estimation for new constructions? And so on.)   During my stay in Zagreb, I explored the possibility of making a comparative study between Croatia and Hungary. My specific interest lies with social sustainability in these post-communist countries, where homeownership is a dominant form of housing tenure (it is accepted as a social norm), while adequate housing is unaffordable to more and more people. It is interesting to see (historically) how Croatia and Hungary succeeded/failed in “regulating” the market, noting special "cracks" in their systems.     Altogether this secondment completes my previous secondments nicely. I like the way CERANEO is working on projects with a focus on trends in social development, such as poverty and unemployment, and monitoring the provision of social services, such as housing and healthcare. I honestly believe that housing and healing (care) have a close connection and it is timely to investigate and critically reflect on the contested provisioning of these two sectors. CERANEO and the Croatian Network for the Homeless are making a real difference in the lives of homeless people in Croatia. I commend them for their work, and I encourage them to continue to fight for the rights of homeless people.   Finally, I would very much like to thank Professor Bežovan and Marko Horvat for making my stay worthwhile with their constant support and productive help.

Secondments

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Activism and Philanthropy: A Call for Collaboration in Addressing Housing Affordability and Social Challenges in Europe

Posted on 13-09-2023

Over the past few decades, housing affordability for low-income individuals and families in Europe has been on a steady decline. The marketized housing systems, which once promised a sustainable and socially vibrant living environment, have been plagued by long-term issues that have threatened the very fabric of our communities. Within the European Union, member states share both similarities and differences, ranging from institutional and legal frameworks to political landscapes. Following the transition to multiparty democracies in Eastern European countries, there was a glimmer of hope as these nations boasted a well-educated and cost-effective workforce. However, the path to development has been marred by various challenges, including recession, privatization, restitution, and price liberalization. These hurdles have particularly impacted the social aspects of these countries, leading to persistent social tensions. Despite significant progress since the early 1990s, negative demographic trends continue to exacerbate the existing social challenges. Additionally, the prevalence of informal economies in these countries remains higher compared to their counterparts. This can be attributed to reduced tax revenues and inadequate support schemes that fail to target those in need. It is clear that the current support systems are dysfunctional and require a collaborative effort from various stakeholders to bridge the gaps and foster mutual learning. In light of these pressing issues, it is crucial for activism and philanthropy to join forces and work hand in hand. Activism, with its ability to raise awareness and mobilize communities, can shed light on the dire housing affordability situation and advocate for policy changes that prioritize the needs of low-income owners and renters. Philanthropy, on the other hand, can provide the necessary resources and support to implement sustainable solutions that address the root causes of the problem. By fostering a close collaboration between activists, philanthropists, policymakers, and other stakeholders will enable us to develop innovative strategies that tackle housing affordability and social challenges in a holistic manner. It is only through such collective efforts that we can restore sustainability and social cohesion within our communities.   Here are some key elements that can contribute to addressing challenges: 1. Long-term Vision and Housing Policy Framework: A clear and comprehensive housing policy framework is essential to guide decision-making and ensure a long-term vision for affordable and sustainable housing. This framework should prioritize the needs of low-income individuals and families and address the root causes of housing affordability issues. 2. Strategy to Fight Homelessness: It is crucial to develop a strategy that focuses on preventing and addressing homelessness. This includes measures to stop the criminalization of homelessness and provide protection for vulnerable groups, such as families with children. Adequate support and resources should be allocated to ensure that those in need have access to safe and stable housing. 3. Alleviation of Housing Poverty: Housing subsidization should be targeted towards those who are in genuine need, ensuring that the most vulnerable individuals and families receive the support they require. 4. Increasing the Stock of Affordable Housing: Efforts should be made to increase the availability of not-for-profit and affordable housing. This can be achieved through partnerships with housing providers, philanthropic organizations, and other stakeholders. Investing in the development of new homes and renovating existing ones can help expand the stock of affordable housing. 5. Supporting Energy-Efficient Renovations: Many housing units are in poor condition, contributing to energy poverty and environmental degradation. Supporting energy-efficient renovations can improve living conditions, reduce energy costs, and contribute to sustainability goals. Funding and incentives should be provided to encourage homeowners and landlords to undertake these renovations. 6. Collaboration between Housing Providers and Philanthropy: Housing providers, including local authorities and community organizations, play a crucial role in delivering affordable and sustainable housing services. However, they often face challenges in funding and resources. Philanthropic organizations can play a vital role in providing funding and support for essential community investments. This collaboration can lead to the development of stronger community efforts and innovative housing solutions. 7. Flexibility in Funding: Greater flexibility in utilizing EU funding for housing initiatives, combined with central state support, can help foster the growth of affordable rental housing and combat energy poverty. This flexibility allows for tailored approaches that address the specific needs of different regions and communities.  

Reflections

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Clashing Vulnerabilities

Posted on 13-02-2023

Clashing vulnerabilities   The globalization era resulted in the fragmentation of class structures, and regional and social inequalities grew. As a result, upward mobility is declining in most countries in Europe. More and more people are at risk of downward mobility, but they are classified as “not poor enough” to receive help and are pushed back of the queue for benefits, including housing.   Housing affordability is a primary driver of precarity, affecting both upward and downward mobility. A growing number of middle-income people have difficulty affording adequate housing in Europe, facing safety concerns, as they can only access unhealthy, low-quality, energy-inefficient, or overcrowded housing options. Their situation has become fragile partly because of the liberalized labor market, and partly because the system abandoned them as an outcome of the cuts in the welfare state. Meanwhile, the number of evicted and homeless people is also rising.   ”Clashing vulnerabilities” between marginalized people and increasingly downwardly mobile people should be managed, even though risks are being distributed differently, and it is hard to estimate how structural and individual factors influence the probability of becoming downwardly mobile.   I had my first secondment at BMSZKI (Budapest Methodological Centre of Social Policy and its Institutions). BMSZKI is the largest homeless service provider in the capital, also it is one of the largest social service providers in the country and the Central European region. They are making a great effort to ensure the highest quality of services for vulnerable people who turn to them for help, also they developed the methodology of needs assessment for homeless people and established a special professional network to solve issues (e.g: related to housing, health care, addiction). BMSZKI differentiates the profiles of their services based on the needs of homeless people and these services are adapted to the demands that arose.   This secondment demonstrated how “social practices” as a framework can serve transdisciplinarity. There is a certain knowledge that we cannot get from books or lectures. Personal experiences of the working people at particular institutes, or organizations are essential parts of the learning process. During my stay, I learned about the theory and practice of social work, and I had the possibility to have site visits, meeting with the leaders of different programs (FET, No Slum), and homes (Temporary home for families, K22). I had the chance to have individual and multi-person consultations to shape my understanding and the direction of my research.   I benefited from the fruitful discussions about how important it is to open services both for homeless and at risk people. To open the system from the bottom and the top. On the one hand, social/housing policy should lower the number of people who are homeless (living literally on the streets), and on the other hand, it should provide people in general with more opportunities to get a safe, affordable home. A policy that focuses only on the most serious problems or restricts itself to the poorest residents is clearly not sustainable. The question remains: How to find harmony between these two interrelated goals? They are non-contradictory public purposes, but they compete with each other in terms of resources and administrative capacities. There lies the challenge.   I would like to conclude this post with a book recommendation and a quote.   Book recommendation: Tell Them Who I Am: The Lives of Homeless Women by Elliot Liebow The author of this ethnographic research spent time with homeless women in the late eighties (after being diagnosed with cancer). Liebow tells us that these women were not homeless because they had mental health issues or addiction problems. (There are many women who are mentally or physically ill or who are having family issues or addiction problems who have homes.) They are homeless because they cannot afford a home, even when they have several jobs at the same time.   Quote about homelessness from Sharon Stone (from her speech presented at the Compass Community Services, Spring Forward 2009 luncheon, San Francisco, April 23, 2009), who is the co-founder of Planet Hope ( https://planethope.org ):   “I think so many people don’t really know what it is to be homeless, or how people get there. Many people hear the word “homeless” and they think of that guy cast in a movie who is kind of skinny and skanky and stinky and stands outside a bar begging. That’s not homelessness. That’s an idea. Homelessness is what happens when you’re one paycheck away from losing your home. When you have tried everything you’ve got. Everything. When you’ve leveraged everything, sold everything, sold your lawn furniture, sold your couch, taken your grandmother’s engagement ring to the pawn shop, given away your clothes, haven’t eaten, live on a dozen eggs for a week, fed your kids but you don’t eat, slept in your car, they’ve taken your car, you’ve lived in a pup tent, and now you don’t have that. Homelessness is when your government job is gone. Homelessness is when you’re a professor, and they don’t need you anymore at the school. Homelessness is when your dental group is cutting down and they don’t need that many dentists anymore. Homelessness is educated people. Homelessness is when you’re a wife, and your husband wants a younger one. Or a different one. And not you and those noisy kids… And when children — good children, not drug users — but good normal children just like yours are in the street, innocent, pure, lovely, beautiful children just like mine and yours are in the street for two weeks, 14 days, and they have nowhere to live, and not a mother who is a tiger, who stands over them and gets them to school and keeps her head together, or something happens to that parent — in 14 days they are prostitutes to live, because that’s the only way they can eat. And that is a governmental statistic. This is homelessness.”

Secondments

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Case studies

Contributions to the case study library

Vocabulary

Contributions to the vocabulary

Critical Utopian Action Research

Housing Regime

Precariat

Trauma Informed Design

Area: Community participation

The term Critical Utopian Action Research (CAR) was inspired by critical theory originating in the Scandinavian action research milieu (Nielsen & Nielsen, 2006; Gunnarson et al., 2016). CUAR advocates a critique of social structures, as these are often the barriers to human development (Coghlan & Brydon-Miller, 2014; Hansen et al., 2016). In this tradition, the role of the researcher is to raise awareness of societal problems. CUAR was inspired by (1) critical theory, (2) the work of Kurt Lewin, (3) socio- technical action research and (4) future research. (Coghlan & Brydon-Miller, 2014). CUAR researchers function as facilitators of free spaces (Bladt & Nielsen, 2013), that is to say, they create forums and arenas to foster deliberations, dialogues and joint activities. These spaces serve as laboratories where social learning and imagination are developed in order to enable “new forms of social learning between citizens and scientists" (Egmose, 2015, p.1). The CUAR framework was developed by Kurt Aagaard Nielsen and Birger Steen Nielsen (Nielsen & Nielsen, 2006). The tradition of CUAR emerged for the practical application of critical knowledge through analysing modernity in the social sciences, and in cultural and philosophical studies. This theoretical, methodological, and practical framework was inspired by some relevant critical theorists, such as Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer.  They formed a view that science cannot be considered valid unless it is the result of democratic processes. On that same note,  an undemocratic investigation of the world can only lead to an undemocratic reality (Coghlan & Brydon-Miller, 2014). In addition, purely positivist approaches, devoid of critical reflection, neglect fundamental democratic values (McIntosh, 2010). According to CUAR advocates, society cannot be governed in a technocratic way with a purely authoritarian development logic (Coghlan & Brydon-Miller, 2014). CUAR encourages the creation of democratic knowledge with a high level of reflexivity (Elling, 2008). A basic argument used by Lewin was that researchers do not only work for scientific reasons -in the circuit of academically mediated reflexivity, away from other members of society -, but they also work for and together with research participants (McIntosh, 2010; Coghlan & Brydon-Miller, 2014). Lewin’s methodology is relevant for housing studies, as it is institutionalized in the socio-technical tradition of action research and where participants co-operate with researchers in real life  projects. Another important inspiration for the CUAR tradition is future research, a notion introduced by the German philosopher Robert Jungk, who applied tools and created forums for democratic change  for a better future (Jungk & Müllert, 1987; Reason & Bradbury, 2008). According to Jungk, the future is determined by a small elite, while the majority of citizens remain powerless. Therefore, he wanted people not to close their eyes to the future, but to become co-creators of it (Coghlan & Brydon-Miller, 2014). The convergence of critical utopian thinking and everyday knowledge are the key ingredients of CUAR. This research framework provides a unique and useful orientation of imaginative processes towards sustainable social change. CUAR fosters transdisciplinary thinking across a wide range of existing knowledge. By creating new platforms (for example educational platforms, campaigns, or experimental pilot projects) it can give people the opportunity to act upon their values and knowledge.

Created on 05-07-2022

Author: A.Martin (ESR7)

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Area: Policy and financing

The discussion on housing regimes dates back to e neo-institutional turn in policy research which occurred during the 1980s. This literature viewed institutions not so much as “formal” entities but more as the culmination of conflicting power relations, market dynamics, and ideology. The study of these dynamics could, in turn, be used to understand the variegated development of post-war welfare states, as exemplified by Esping-Andersen’s seminal Three worlds of welfare capitalism (1990). Kemeny defined the housing regime as “the social, political, and economic system of housing supply, distribution, and consumption, which determines the housing market opportunities of a certain period” (1981, p. 13). His framework follows the logic of the historical and institutional structure of society. Kemeny (2006) argues that, due to the central role of real estate in modern capitalism, housing systems follow similar paths, albeit with  different logics. Studying the emergence of regimes of a different nature between countries, he distinguished between unitary and dualized housing regimes, based on their rental-market systems, that is: (a) countries with an open private sector but with a firmly regulated public sector are characterized by a dual rental market; and (b) societies where the private and public sectors are strictly regulated have a unitary rental market. In dualist countries (primarily the Anglo-Saxon ones), homeownership is commonplace, while in countries with an integrated/unitary system (such as Germany, Netherlands, and Scandinavian countries) renting is a realistic and even competitive alternative to ownership. Kemeny highlighted that the dominance of homeownership is not organically developed but is socially and politically constructed. The above conceptualization of housing regime based on the functioning of rental market systems does not mirror the (Foucaultian) political and conflictual approach of Clapham, for whom a housing regime stands for a “set of discourses and social, economic and political practices that influence the provision, allocation, consumption [of housing] and housing outcomes in a given country” (2019, p. 24). He views policy as an arena where actors “negotiate and bargain” through discursive processes (Ruonavaara, 2020b). Clapham clearly distinguishes regime types from housing regimes. Regime types are useful for categorization since they can function as a baseline for comparative studies. However, “every housing regime is unique”(Ruonavaara, 2020b). Because of the complexity of the concept, Clapham (2019, p.17) proposes a three-stage analysis for housing policy (Figure 1). Ruonavaara (2020b) finds Clapham’s approach nuanced but too general and broad, which – according to him - makes it less applicable. On the other hand, Hegedüs (2020) considers Clapham’s (2002) housing pathway reasonable, as it describes housing provision forms as a result of interactions. In line with Clapham, he argues that “interventions within the housing system can only be understood in the context of interactions between different housing market actors” (Hegedüs, 2020, p. 569). Consequently, an analysis that only focuses on the rental sector would lead to narrowed interpretations with low explanatory power. More recently, Ruonavaara provided a new definition of housing regimes, which combines the elements of previous theories. He defined housing regime as a “set of fundamental principles according to which housing provision operates in some defined area (municipality, region, state) at a particular point in time” (2020a, p. 10). These principles are present in discourses, institutional arrangements, and political interventions. All actors have certain principles when operating in the system of housing provision at a given time and place. Housing regimes can be considered as the “principles of operation” (Ruonavaara, 2020a). In this sense, the housing regime concept faces challenges in its ability to represent an effective analytical tool for today’s housing systems. For Stephens (2020), it is necessary to rethink housing regime as a way to find middle-range theories given that current accounts of neoliberal convergence (Aalbers, 2016; Clapham, 2019) barely manage to explain the role of regime path-dependences in continuing to shape variegated housing outcomes.

Created on 24-02-2022

Author: A.Martin (ESR7), C.Verrier (ESR)

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Area: Policy and financing

Precariat The term 'precariat' is a compound word formed from 'precarious' and 'proletariat'. (Standing, 2011). It refers to a group of individuals who face precarious employment conditions and may lack stable income and living circumstances. ‘Precarity’ encompasses the broader context, including the causes and conditions leading to this uncertainty of existence. When we describe a situation or relationship as ‘precarious,’ we mean it is characterized by instability and uncertainty. Belonging to the precariat does not confer a status; it is "not ... a status concept, but a condition concept" (LaVaque-Manty 2009, 107). Nowadays, the precariat is part of the everyday and public discourse, representing the essence of new poverty. As market-driven economic structures have evolved, traditional forms of employment and social safety nets have become less secure, leading to increased uncertainty and vulnerability for many individuals. The term 'precariat' was coined by Standing (2011) to describe a 'class-in-the-making' comprised of individuals distinct from other social classes, such as the salariat (those with stable full-time employment) and the proletariat (the traditional working class), due to their unique set of challenges and experiences related to precariousness—lack of security and predictability in various aspects of their lives. Standing´s definition of the precariat generated an active academic, public, and political debate about its meaning and scope, leading to its reinterpretation and broadening. In the Great British Class Survey (GBCS) (2013), the precariat was classified as the lowest social class. However, it encompasses more than just unemployed individuals or the working poor. According to Foti (2017), the precariat includes both emergent service workers and the low-wage workers in commerce, government, and industry. Additionally, Butler (2015) argues that precarity is a “condition in which certain populations suffer from failing social and economic networks of support more than others” (p. 144). The precariat emerges as a consequence of neoliberal ideology, which has shaped public policies by prioritizing market principles and integrating them into policy discussions and decision-making processes. Castel (2007) and Polanyi (2004) have emphasized that the proliferation of precarity and the uncertainty regarding the future impact a larger portion of the population than is commonly perceived. Precariousness, as a state of insecurity and instability,  surpasses conventional class distinctions and indicators of social status such as income, employment, and education (Waldron, 2021). As Standing (2011) stated: “Falling into the precariat could happen to most of us, if accidents occurred or a shock wiped out the trappings of security many have come to rely on” (p.59). The central aim of theorizing the precariat is to provide a framework wherein downward social mobility is understood within the broader context of social inequalities (Bukodi and Goldthorpe, 2019). Housing precariat The terms “precariat”, “precarity”, and “precarious” have seldom been utilized in the literature of housing sociology, but housing affordability is a key driver of precarity (Waldron, 2021). Nonetheless, there has been a noticeable surge in their usage within international literature in recent decades (Listerborn, 2021; Waldron, 2023).  Housing precariat can be defined as “a state of uncertainty which increases a person´s real or perceived likelihood of experiencing an adverse event, caused (at least in part) by their relationship with their housing provider, the physical qualities, affordability, security of their home, and access to essential services.” (Clair et al., 2019). The entrenched social inequalities serve as the fundamental cause of the current housing crisis. These disparities have progressively worsened, exacerbated by the expanding precariat—a group experiencing precarious employment due to shifts in the labour market and economy. In this context, the concept of precariat offers a lens to examine the widening gap between wealth and income, leading to economic instability, deteriorating living conditions, heightened unemployment, poverty, and homelessness. Moreover, it underscores the deepening spatial inequalities, evidenced by the rising residential segregation. The operationalization of the precariat in housing research presents challenges, particularly considering the distinctive shifts in the labour market and life trajectories of wage earners in Europe, with added complexities in Eastern Europe due to its intricate historical development. In this context, the precariat transcends specific historical periods; its dynamic nature is best understood through real-life scenarios. This juncture offers an opportunity to delve into its contemporary significance and its potential as a valuable tool for examining various social phenomena. These include household behaviours, housing-related issues stemming from interactions between authorities, institutions, and households, as well as diverse mechanisms, particularly within local and national contexts. It is essential to recognize that precarious housing does not necessarily reflect the housing conditions of individuals within the precariat.

Created on 21-03-2024

Author: A.Martin (ESR7)

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Area: Design, planning and building

Trauma informed design  is a new and evolving approach to designing the built environment that considers the potential impact of trauma on people's experiences and needs. It is based on the principles of trauma-informed care (Di Raimo, 2022), which recognizes that trauma can profoundly impact all aspects of a person's life. Accordingly, designers consider how the physical environment can help people feel safe, connected, empowered, and supported. Both trauma informed design (TID) and trauma informed care acknowledge that trauma can profoundly impact all aspects of a person's life, including their physical and mental health, cognitive functioning, behaviour, and relationships. In a TID process, all decisions about the physical environment are filtered through the overlapping lenses of psychology, neuroscience, physiology, and cultural factors (Bollo & Donofrio, 2021; Di Raimo, 2022) (Owen & Crane, 2022). TID environments are uniquely designed to meet the needs of the intended users, recognizing that what is helpful and healing for one person may not be for another.  TID builds on the "ability of architects to listen to the potential users" (Di Raimo, 2022). Designers should think about how people will feel in the living space, both physically and emotionally. They must consider: (1) how the space can help people feel comfortable (safety and trust), (2) how the space facilitates community-building possibilities and practices (sense of belonging, opportunities for social interactions and collaborations), and (3) how the space can suit/serve different needs, where people have the right to make their own choices (empowerment and adaptability of the environment in order to creating spaces that are flexible and adaptable to personal needs, for example, facilitating, adjustable furniture and accessible amenities). These are some examples of how to create a comfortable and supportive home for people, considering TID principles: (1) Open corridors with cues and landmarks can help people with cognitive impairments or mobility issues to navigate the space more easily. (2) Natural light can improve mood and well-being. (3) Artwork depicting natural elements, such as plants and landscapes, can also positively impact mood and well-being. Abstract art can be overstimulating for some people, so it is best to avoid it in this setting. (4) Colours such as blue, green, and purple are less arousing than other colours, so they can help create a calming and relaxing environment. (5) Natural materials like wood and stone can create a warm and inviting atmosphere. (6) Home design with commercial sustainability can help reduce the home's environmental impact and make it more affordable to operate. (7) People need a certain degree of privacy, even in a communal setting (e.g., by providing locking cabinets and lockers). (8) People should be able to personalize their living space to make it feel like home (e.g., by providing things like magnetic writing boards and other items that people can use to express themselves). (9) Open areas for relaxation separate from bedroom, in order to provide people with a place to relax and socialize without having to be in their bedrooms. (10) Soft, comfortable furniture can help people to relax and feel comfortable. (11) Adequate and easy access to services, staff, and counselling to support their needs. (12) Adequate indoor and outdoor playing spaces to assure the physical and mental well-being of children. (13) Adequate separation of men's and women's sleeping and bathroom spaces: to guarantee privacy and safety. (14) Accommodation for pets; since they provide companionship and support, it is essential to consider their needs as well. Apna Ghar said the following about the relevance of TID (Forbes, 2019): "[It] requires realizing how the physical environment affects identity, worth and dignity, and how it promotes empowerment. It requires recognizing that the physical environment has an impact on attitude, mood and behavior because there is a strong link between our physiological state, our emotional state and the physical environment. It also means that intentionally designing and maintaining healing environments leads to empowerment and resists retraumatizing those who have already experienced so much trauma." TID recognizes that people are resilient and can heal from trauma (Di Raimo, 2022). Hence, it encompasses the creation of both physically secure living environments and emotionally and psychologically safe spaces.  It can be applied to a wide range of spaces (Di Raimo, 2022; Anderson, 2010; Gill,2019), including schools, hospitals, offices, service providers, and homes. According to the Preservation of Affordable Housing (2023), TID  can be used to create affordable rental housing that is safe and supportive for residents and staff. TID is not only for vulnerable people. Calming and supportive spaces, appealing colours, comfortable furniture, and natural elements facilitate good health in general. It can improve the well-being of residents, enhance their productivity, and facilitate a more positive work environment in any organization.  TID is more than just a design process, it is a way of listening to the potential users of a space and understanding their needs and experiences in order to link design methods and psychological considerations through the contributions of several disciplines (Bollo & Donofrio, 2019; Bollo & Donofrio, 2021), and to rediscover and consider how the physical environment affects people (Di Raimo, 2022). It is still a relatively underutilized approach to design, but it has the potential to shift the focus from housing to healing, especially in social housing, where the psychological impact of the living environment is particularly important.    

Created on 10-12-2023

Author: A.Martin (ESR7)

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Publications

Martin, A. (2023, June). Clashing Vulnerabilities for the right to adequate housing. Marginalized groups vs. middle-income groups in a precarious housing situation. In Clashing Vulnerabilities, Uppsala, Sweden.

Posted on 23-05-2024

Conference

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Martin, A. (2023, December). Housing and Healing: The role of trauma informed design in the supportive housing sector. In Transformative Change in the Contested Fields of Care and Housing in Europe, Linz, Austria.

Posted on 23-05-2024

Conference

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