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Welfare Reform on the Web (March 2012): Social housing - overseas

Targeted assistance and social capital: housing policy in Chile's neoliberal democracy

P.W. Posner

International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, vol.36, 2012, p. 49-70

Welfare regimes can either facilitate or impede inter- and intra-class cohesion depending on how they are structured. Social welfare policies that facilitate strong class cohesion among the poor can strengthen democracy and social equity by enabling the poor to compel democratic leaders to address their concerns, thereby strengthening political participation and accountability. This article asks whether the targeted assistance programmes adopted in Latin America in recent decades function in this way, using housing policy in Chile as a case study. During the 1980s Chile moved from a housing policy based on state provision of housing resources to a market-led programme which offers subsidies to the poor on the basis of relative need. This analysis demonstrates that the mode of housing subsidy provision and structure of local government exacerbate already high levels of social stratification, reinforce workers' vulnerability to the vagaries of the market, and undermine the urban poor's incentives for collective action. While the ostensible intent of this programme is to provide targeted assistance to marginal groups and promote the development of social capital, Chile's current housing policy instead promotes divisive competition among popular sector constituencies.

Voucher users and revitalized public-housing residents 6 years after displacement

F. Brooks and others

Research into Social Work Practice, vol. 22, 2012, p. 10-19

This study reports findings from the last wave of focus groups conducted with 56 former residents of Harris Homes, a 493 unit public housing complex in Atlanta, Georgia. Harris Homes was demolished in 2000 and redeveloped as a mixed income community, renamed College Town, through the HOPE VI programme. Displaced residents of the original Harris Homes had three options: they could keep their housing vouchers and continue to live in private rented accommodation; they could move back to redeveloped College Town; or they could remain in the public housing where they were relocated when Harris Homes was demolished. This research compared people who chose to return to College Town with those who decided to remain in private rented housing. Results show that people who moved back to College Town were very satisfied with their homes, experienced significantly fewer material hardships and were more positive about their economic well-being than those who remained in the voucher programme.

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