The relevance of the ‘social housing’ approach in meeting housing needs
Keywords:social housing in the Global South; financialization of housing, financialization of housing, developmentalist states, rudimentary welfare systems, informality
This paper addresses the problem of accessing decent and affordable housing in the Global South, where the housing need is, in general, more problematic than in the Global North. The paper first identifies five distinctive characteristics of housing systems in the Global South as compared to those in the Global North. These include: (a) the diverse facets of global financialization; (b) the role of the developmentalist state; (c) the importance of informality; (d) the decisive role of the family; and (e) the rudimentary welfare systems. Given these features, the paper reflects on the concept and practices of social housing, particularly their appropriateness to deal with the housing problem in the Global South. The paper then addresses the question of whether the social housing approach is relevant for solving the contemporary housing needs in the Global South. It argues that social housing, redefined to better encompass the distinctive characteristics of housing systems in the Global South, is indeed a useful policy approach and can play a decisive role in satisfying unmet housing needs. Such an approach needs to take into account the great role of informality and family support systems and develop appropriate funding instruments and modes of institutionalization protecting housing rights and the quality of life.