We believe that social housing is a tool with which to solve social problems, many of which cannot be solved by housing markets based purely around profit. The basic aim of social housing is to house individuals and families, but also to improve the environment and society as a whole.

In the past, social housing was of great importance in responding to major collective challenges. In the Netherlands the first wave of social housing (in the early 20th century ) was a response to the deplorable circumstances of the 19th Century housing market. A second epoch came with World War II and the necessity of massive post-war reconstruction in cities and towns. From the 70’s onward, social housing was a tool for the restructuring of cities.

Challenges of the future

What are the challenges that social housing should be addressing today and in the future? We have defined three major challenges.

Migration to cities / mobility  Rapid urbanization is exerting great pressure on the housing markets of cities. Social housing is important in giving every citizen, both newcomers and deep-rooted, not just a temporary house, but a permanent home. This is as true—if not more so— in developing countries as in developed and industrialised ones. How can social housing be a tool to keep cities open?


Segregation / inequality  Increased demand and real estate investment speculation are driving housing prices up. This leads to growing segregation where only the rich can afford to live in city centers forcing low income groups to move to the periphery. How can social housing be a tool to keep cities undivided?


Diversification of tenant’s demands  As a result of demographic and migration trends we see that dwellers’ profiles are more diverse than ever before. Depending on age, health or ethnic background, requirements differ. New strategies for the organization of social housing including self-building are emerging. How can social housing be a tool to create an inclusive society?



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