It is truly a tall order to fully understand the contribution of housing to growth, welfare and prosperity among individuals and societies. The field is generally under-researched and under-funded. Where there is research, it is often concentrated on a specific issue within a topical area such as: the link between labour market mobility and housing availability; the effect of poor housing on individual health outcomes, or the macro-economic risk of increased household indebtedness.
Rarely does housing research capture, or attempt to capture, the full socio-economic and dynamic effects of housing on individuals and society. Still, housing is affected by, and in turn affects, most other societal areas from architecture to private sector development. An obvious explanation is that housing markets are too complex to be described by unitary market equilibrium models and would require an empirical basis for submarket modelling. This, however, has not been embraced in applied research to any greater extent and, when it’s been done, it has been subject to inconsistency. The likely implication of this is that the effects of a functional, or indeed a dysfunctional, housing market may be both under-estimated and under-valued in literature and policy-research.
A boost for childcare in the autumn statement would be a profoundly depressing move. And it will be just as dispiriting if there are new programmes to help low-income families. Not because these measures aren’t to be warmly welcomed: it is just that it will tell you that the chancellor is focused on tinkering rather than boldly tackling the most pressing crisis of the age: housing.
Last week saw several heavyweight reports into Britain’s housing crisis. The Redfern review, detailing the catastrophic slump in home ownership, told us how real house prices have jumped 151% since 1996, while real earnings have risen only about a quarter as much.
The report by the ResPublica thinktank, out the next day, told us how 1.2 million people are languishing on housing waiting lists in England, while more than 6 million face tenure insecurity and no prospect of ever buying their own home.
Lyons Housing Commission reminded us last week how, after decades of failure to build the homes the country needs, public concern about housing is the highest it has been for 40 years.
A successful city is economically and culturally vibrant, healthy, safe, clean and attractive to business and tourism, and provides quality of life to its citizens. This vision is appealing but remains hard to realize as developing cities have to cope with changing demographics and climate with limited financial and human resources. The sustainable development goals have given a new impetus for cities to be inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable (SDG11), ensure citizens’ health and wellbeing (SDG3) and secure access to sustainable water and sanitation services (SDG6).
World Toilet Day on November 19th is the opportunity to remind ourselves of a few facts and propose a set of guiding principles for a renewed and revitalized urban sanitation agenda.
Many cities struggle to deal with the most basic municipal task of managing human excreta. Some are effectively “drowning” in human waste. Urban population growth continuously outpaces gains in improved sanitation access and, globally, Only 26% of urban excreta is deemed to be safely managed. The results? Environmental degradation, endemic disease leading to mortality and morbidity, especially among children, poor school attendance and performance, low productivity, constraints on the delivery of essential urban services such as housing, transport, safe water and drainage, and, ultimately, limits on economic growth and urban development. In short,
Historian Joel Schwartz takes us on a guided tour of New York City before the NYC Housing Authority razed large swaths of run-down neighborhoods to build public housing projects. These arresting photographs of a long-vanished New York City owe their astonishing detail to the 4×5 inch negatives captured by the NYCHA photographers. Photos are from the NYC Housing Authority collection housed at the La Guardia and Wagner Archives.
Part Two: https://youtu.be/kJ62bxhj3iA
For a while now I’ve had an issue with both the term and the definition of ‘urban design’. What exactly is it? Compare it to architecture or planning, which are professions that are easy to define and identify, even to a child’s mind. At its most simple level, architects design buildings, while planners design cities. We understand those roles because they have boundaries and actions that give them a clear identity. But not so for urban design.
We can all identify a well-designed space when we see it, but what part of this is due to good contemporary design? Did it come about due to robust planning policies that encouraged a vibrant mix of uses? Was it due to the active participation of community groups? For most projects, it is probably of all the above… and then some more. What we understand to be urban design involves a broad spectrum of disciplines, such as landscape architects, planners, architects, engineers, etc. In addition, there is the involvement of the public, government agencies, and developers. It’s clearly a ‘team effort’ to produce good urban design interventions.
In Brazil’s ongoing economic and political drama, one of the latest developments is a congressional proposal to freeze federal funds at 2016 levels, adjusting the 2017 national budget only for inflation. This move would mean deep cuts to spending on social programnes.
Though such reductions would affect programmes that launched millions of Brazilians into the middle class and put the developing country on track to meet many of the Millennium Development Goals, the senate seems likely to approve the budget freeze.
For Brazilian cities, this government belt-tightening promises a disquieting change: the possible end of the country’s ambitious slum-upgrading programs. Despite Brazil’s great wealth, many poor neighbourhoods known as favelas (slums or “informal settlements” in urban planning parlance) still struggle with inadequate construction quality, no sanitation, environmental risk factors and lack of the most basic infrastructure.