Learning from the challenges and policy responses of mature and emerging housing systems

Every single country in the world today is solving a housing riddle. While social, economic and environmental urban challenges may vary from one state to the other, the big questions are the same at every corner.

At first sight, well-functioning and mature housing systems with solid welfare services can be easier to grasp or build upon. We only need to look twice to realise that even regions and cities with a good amount of social and affordable housing must reinvent themselves. Many are looking for the best coping mechanisms to offer living within ethical climate boundaries, renovate while increasing the housing stock; cater for an ageing population while keeping up to speed with evolving technology to provide access to housing for the youth; combat discrimination and segregation; challenge the massive spread of vacation homes in attractive city areas… The list is long.

In parallel, emerging or even nascent housing systems are preparing to make an enormous jump facing both structural and emerging housing challenges on their way. Learning from the past mistakes or successes of others with an innovative attitude can bring them far ahead, and provide a new source of inspiration to more mature housing systems.

External factors such as the global health pandemic, devastating war invasions, and financial crises, have also been reshaping housing systems. In a context of growing instability and uncertainty, reshaping housing systems to be more equality-driven, environmentally sustainable and resilient has become a moral imperative.

In this sense, the public sector is called to play an entrepreneurial role in supporting the development and preservation of affordable housing, in close collaboration with non- and limited-profit housing providers.

Our 2023 host city is special for multiple reasons

While housing systems across the world have seen an increase in market-driven urban development and a retraction of the public sector in the regulation and direct provision of housing in the last decades, some cities – including Barcelona – are introducing innovative housing policies to respond to pressing social needs resulting from the financialization of housing, housing unaffordability, forced evictions, homelessness, or migration flows, among other trends.

It takes political will,  dedication, time as well as adequate and targeted investment to ensure that communities have decent, quality homes that allow them to have a decent life standard. Barcelona provides a perfect example of the potential and limitations of such willingness to strengthen its housing system in a context of weak market regulations and scarcity of public resources devoted to housing.

The 4th International Social Housing Festival (ISHF) will focus on the lessons to be learned from mature as well as emerging housing systems vis-à-vis emerging social and economic challenges across the world, with a special focus on Southern Europe and extensive participation from the rest of the continent, Asia, Latin America and North America.

Join us in Barcelona on 7-9 June 2023 to find answers to some of today’s most relevant questions together.

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