Sunday, January 2, 2011
Social Housing Mosaic
Posted by Deirdre Oakley, DELFT, THE NETHERLANDS -- There are 2300 residents of 40 nationalities living in Delft's Poptahof social housing neighborhood. Many more have come and gone since Poptahof was built more than 60 years ago, benefiting from its affordable rents. Similar to public housing in the U.S., social housing is government-subsidized with the primary purpose of ensuring that families and individuals with moderately-low to low incomes have housing that they can afford. Unlike the U.S., however, the Dutch system is based on universal access to housing and seeks to prevent residential segregation of the country's many minority groups. Supported by federal policy, local housing authorities around the U.S. have been tearing public housing down in response to a variety of issues such as a deteriorating building stock, urban blight, and poverty -- forcing residents to relocate. Concerns about Poptahof's aging building stock and fears that it might fall into social decline, prompted local authorities to begin revitalizing the community. But residents are not forced to leave. The phased redevelopment plan means no one loses their home. And those who wish to move are given a rental subsidy to do so. Current U.S. low income housing policy could be vastly improved by following the Dutch.
Deirdre Oakley is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Georgia State University and the Editor of Social Shutter. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. To view more 'Social Housing Mosaic' photographs, log on to our Facebook page.