The 21st Century Urban Housing Crisis and its Discontents / STREAM F – Urban renewal

Organizer: Matthias Bernt (Leibniz-Institute for Regional Development and Structural Planning, DE); Paul Watt (Birkbeck, University of London, UK).


The 2008 capitalist crisis began in the U.S. housing market, but rapidly spread out across many other countries. Its social after-shocks are currently being felt by many millions of urban dwellers who experience deepening housing unaffordability and insecurity. In many cities across the Western world there is talk of a “new housing crisis” which seems to be especially acute in those housing markets – such as in London, Berlin, New York and Paris – that represent a magnet for footloose, speculative real estate capital. This development, alongside depleted social housing provision, has brought Engels’ housing question’ into political prominence across many major cities. As a result, the urban housing crisis has generated considerable discontent by groups of city dwellers who fear their ‘right to the city’ is being fundamentally compromised. At the same time, responding to housing shortage and affordability has taken center stage in “official” policies and stimulated a wide range of government responses. In many cases, these have brought about new discussions about the relation of ideals (such as “social mix”) and realities (such as public housing cuts).

This stream welcomes papers that either offer a comparative approach or examine single-city case studies on the current housing crisis. Examples of questions that papers might consider include:

  • How have different cities experienced the housing crisis? How do cities’ differential positions in the global economy impact on the nature of the urban housing crisis?
  • What are the impacts of the housing crisis on city dwellers? How far do such impacts reinforce existing class, race, gender, generational and housing tenure divisions, or generate new socio-spatial fault-lines?
  • How have urban political responses either ameliorated or exacerbated different cities’ housing crisis? How do the current responses differ from its predecessors?
  • In what ways have residents responded to the housing crisis in terms of political contestation?
  • How can we theorise the contemporary urban housing crisis and its discontents?

F2.1 21st century housing crisis

Chairs: Matthias Bernt (Leibniz-Institute for Regional Development and Structural Planning), Paul Watt (Birkbeck, University of London)


Luna Glucksberg
A view from the top: unpacking capital flows and foreign investment in the Alpha territories of London

Andrej Holm
Berlin’s housing crisis, the gentrification mainstream, and the Zombie politics of the local state

Ute Lehrer
Condo Towers and the Housing Crisis

Jin-Kyung Lee
Housing unaffordability, dwelling insecurity, and their causes in Korea

Roman Matoušek
New paths and geographies of public housing in Czechia: in search of explanations


F2.2 21st century housing crisis

Chairs: Matthias Bernt (Leibniz-Institute for Regional Development and Structural Planning), Paul Watt (Birkbeck, University of London


Duncan Bowie
Responses to the housing crisis in the UK

Richard Goulding, Joe Beswick and Stuart Hodkinson
The New Housing Crisis in the UK: Comparing Austerity Urbanism at Different Urban Scales

Cássia Nagle and Leandro Medrano
Economic and housing crisis: Losses and opportunities after the 2008 crisis, the Brazilian case

Mikołaj Lewicki and Joanna Kusiak
Housing Crisis, Financialization, and the “Glass-Jar” Citizen: New patterns of Housing Segregation in Warsaw

Manuel Aalbers
The financialization of a social housing provider


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