The potential of alternative housing initiatives to ‘transform’ the housing sector: Examples from New York City and Berlin

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Most major cities around the world are faced with a housing crisis, as real estate has become the dominant sector of the economy. The purpose of this paper-in-progress is to review selected affordable and integrated housing initiatives from New York City and Berlin to consider how they can be supported, scaled up, and sustained to resist the financialization of the housing sector, and potentially, lead to a transition toward de-commodification of housing. Despite the differences between the two cities in terms of scale, history and socio-economic context, the majority of residents in both cities are renters, unlike the rest of the country, and both have a legacy of working-class activism that led to the establishment of successful collaborative affordable housing development and programs in the second half of the twentieth century. After a brief review of the current affordable housing crisis, we provide an overview of some past and recently proposed low income and integrated housing models. We consider their potential and limitations in terms of sustainability and scaling up. The methodology is based on a review of previous studies, newspaper and agency reports, and interviews with housing experts, activists, and local government representatives.
major cities, housing crisis, dominant sector