Plenary Sessions

Welcome Plenary, Wednesday 28 August 2019, 09.00 – 10.30 main building

Plenary I, Wednesday 28 August 2019, 11.00 – 12.30 main building



Dimitris Emmanuel, National Centre for Social Research, Athens
Housing in Greece 2000-2018: A Short Overview

The presentation will cover, in outline form, the main characteristics and trends in the Greek housing sector leading up to 2009 as well as the changes effected during the “crisis” decade up to 2018 – both in the broader economic context and in housing policies, housing conditions and the “social economy” of this particular case of “Southern” European housing. At present, the major challenge for housing policy is to gradually mobilise funds required for the reproduction of the Greek owner-occupation system thus also assisting a restart of the house building sector and, more generally, investment in new and upgraded housing (including rental). This task should be complemented by forming, in parallel, a realistic social housing policy from scratch. Efforts in these directions, however, face the exceptional intensity of negative shifts in the fundamentals of the Greek system and the seeming impasse imposed by prospects of continuing stagnation and austerity.

Dimitris Balampanidis, Department of Geography, Harokopio University (Athens, Greece)

As in numerous countries around the world, short-term rentals through AirBnB and several similar platforms constitute a rapidly spreading practice in Greece, lying at the heart of public debate, raising serious questions and concerns, and generating much controversy. It is about a booming housing market, which develops unevenly both in geographical and social terms, and affects the local economy, urban space and society in multiple and –more importantly– ambiguous ways. While short-term rentals have provided a way out of the long and continuous crisis in Greece –apparently to low-income individuals and households–, they have also offered a great opportunity for speculation on real estate property and land –primarily to upper-income individuals and households, small to large investors and real estate agencies. At the same time, while they may partially contribute to the upgrading and reuse of the existing building stock or to the reactivation of the long-stagnant local economy, they also threaten to lead to processes of local residents’ displacement, neighbourhoods’ “touristification” and increasing residential segregation. Public authorities, the civil society, policy makers and “experts” are confronted with a complex phenomenon that can be neither utterly condemned nor fully celebrated but, instead, requires far more thorough context-based understandings and responses.

Dimitra Siatitsa, General Secretariat of Welfare

Plenary II, Thursday 29 August 2019, 09.00 – 10.30 main building



Hans-Thor Andersen, Research Director, SBi / Danish Building Research Institute, AALBORG UNIVERSITY
Welfare or growth? The changing meaning of housing policy

The European Social Model was launched as an answer to social threats generated by globalisation. Decent housing is part of the model; in particularly the claim for affordable housing in larger cites has been clearly articulated. Although globalisation is considered the main guilty local and national governments have contributed, too. Under headlines such as competitiveness and liberalisation have governments followed their narrow interests by attracting investments, businesses, culture and various organisations. However, attraction of affluent taxpayers has also been important element in the strive for success and competitiveness. This paper will investigate the transformation of local housing policies and its main consequences in Copenhagen, Denmark.


Yuri Kazepov, Professor of International Urban Sociology and Compared Welfare Systems at the University of Vienna
Local social innovation against homelessness: Contextual multi-scalar puzzles

Most scholars have predominantly understood social innovation as a local phenomenon. The emphasis on “the local” as the locus of social innovation and on bottom-up dynamics as the modus of social innovation, however, entails manifold risks of falling into a “local trap”: i.e. to assume that – by definition – the local scale is preferable to larger scales. Escaping the local trap entails challenging this assumption in order to embrace a more comprehensive and relational approach on how social innovation actually moves across scales. The presentation will address this problématique by providing examples on housing innovations targeting homelessness. The argument put forward pleads for an analysis of local social innovation from a context-sensitive multi-scalar perspective.


Sako Musterd, Professor of Urban Geography, University of Amsterdam
New Perspectives on Segregation; the Functioning of Neighbourhoods

Households differ from each other in socioeconomic, demographic, ethnic, and socio-cultural terms and have sorted themselves or have been sorted into specific residential milieus across urban space. Collectively this created some type of segregation. The type will differ between urban contexts. In this contribution I will discuss social urban segregation in several European contexts, and put the findings in a wider spatial and societal perspective. A range of questions will be addressed, such as: how segregated are European cities? How problematic is the level of segregation? How is it framed? When should politicians and policymakers intervene? Is there space to embrace the idea of the ‘function of a neighbourhood’ for specific types of households who find themselves in certain stages of their lives? What are the potential positive and negative effects of such ideas?

Plenary IIIa, Thursday 29 August 2019, 16.00 – 17.30 main building



Vassilis P Arapoglou, Associate professor in social inequalities and social exclusion, University of Crete
Housing, precarity and social integration: changing relationships in Southern Europe

The presentation considers how the concept of precarity, its material and social dimensions, exposed first in Bourdieu’s writings about urban transformations and housing conditions in colonial Algeria,  enables us to better understand contemporary struggles over social and housing policy changes. I will briefly review the waves of neoliberal globalization and highlight how the precarization of labour, housing, and citizenship produced profound inequalities in the living conditions across the cities of Southern Europe.  I will also discuss the potential and limitations that the engagement of civil society organizations and grassroots initiatives entail for the design of inclusive housing policies by referring to examples for the housing of displaced persons, homeless and refugees in Greece.


Darinka Czischke, Assistant professor at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, Delft University of Technology
Refugee integration through collaborative housing? The formation of social connections through social mix and collective self-organisation

Across Europe, the effectiveness of current approaches to housing refugees regarding integration goals is unclear. Refugee integration policies tend to focus mainly on tangible outcomes such as work and education, which are nevertheless considered insufficient by a wide range of actors, including refugees themselves. I argue that the role that housing can play in refugee integration has been neglected both in research and policy, disregarding its potential as enabler of social connections such as social bridges, social bonds and social links.  Building on case study research on Amsterdam’s new approach to housing young refugees together with Dutch starters in collaborative housing, the relative merits of this approach will be critically examined in relation to its capacity to foster social connections that lead to better integration outcomes.

Plenary IIIb, Thursday 29 August 2019, 16.00 – 17.30 new building



Katalina Turcu, Associate Professor of Sustainable Development and Urban Planning, The Bartlett, University College London
Decarbonising the housing sector: does it make us healthier and happier?

The housing sector can contribute significantly to climate change mitigation. It alone contributes globally to almost 18% of direct carbon dioxide emissions from household energy consumption, with 11% coming from use of electricity and district heating in homes, and 7% from household activities such as cooking and heating. At the same time, the housing sector bears an important impact on health and well-being outcomes. It aims to provide safe, secure and comfortable shelter for human habitation; plays an important role in public health; and is central to addressing poverty, equity and affordability issues, which are closely related to physical and mental health and well-being.

This talk claims that decarbonisation, and health and well-being housing policy are pursued separately in the housing sector, at the moment; and they both tend to focus on the building or dwelling scale. It makes a twofold argument: aligning these two housing policy areas can achieve mutual benefits and reduce trade-offs; and a holistic perspective is needed which takes into consideration the wider scale of residential neighbourhoods. A number of housing policy initiatives and measurements used to decarbonise and monitor performance in the sector beyond buildings or dwellings are referenced throughout, while synergies for alignment with health and well-being objectives are discussed.


Fereniki Vatavali, University of Thessaly
Evangelia Chatzikonstantinou
Access to energy at home in the neoliberal context. Insights from Greece.

Access to energy at home emerged as an important social issue in the European countries in the context of the recent financial crisis. The adopted neoliberal policies and austerity measures have reduced disposable family income, deteriorated living standards, and – together with high energy prices – made access to energy unaffordable for many households. Moreover, the transition to a new energy model, that fosters liberalization of energy market, renewable energy sources and mitigation of climate change, forms the ground for the promotion of energy retrofitting of existing housing stock, as well as of a new paradigm of building constructions.

The aim of this presentation is to investigate the social challenges of access to energy at home in the context of the crisis, by focusing on the Greek case. Through a historical approach of housing production and domestic use of energy, the presentation intends to highlight the problems and opportunities that households face with regards to coping with their energy needs, but also to assess relevant policies, actions of NGOs and social mobilizations.

Plenary IV, Friday 30 August 2019, 11.30 – 13.00 main building



Manuel Aalbers, Professor of Human Geography at KU Leuven / University of Leuven (Belgium)
The Uneven and Combined Financialization of Housing

Since the 1970s, mortgage markets have been transformed from being a ‘facilitating market’ for homeowners in need of credit to one increasingly facilitating global investment. Likewise, subsidized rental housing has become exposed to global financial markets through the use of social housing bonds and financial derivatives as well as through the rise of financialized landlords such as private equity firms and real estate firms listed at the stock exchange. Yet, the financialization of housing in the Global South and peripheries of the Global North develops in different ways than in the core of the North because the mechanisms underlying and pushing financialization are fundamentally different. Subordinated and dependent financialization in the (semi-)peripheries is the contemporary form of uneven and combined development, shaped by the financialization of the core.


Josh Ryan-Collins, Head of Research at UCL’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose
Breaking the housing-finance feedback cycle

The housing affordability and inequality crises facing advanced economies are still largely viewed in policy circles as ‘urban’ issues with remedies focussed on the supply side.  Fundamentally, however, these are ‘macro-finance’ issues, driven by long-term shifts in commercial bank credit creation and macroeconomic policy that have driven up the demand for housing as a financial asset.  Drawing on classical political economy, post-keynesian and Schumpeterian heterodox economics perspectives, it is argued that policy effort should be focused on breaking the feedback-cycle between the financial sector and house prices that characterises most advanced economies, including European economies. Two areas are examined in detail: 1) structural and institutional reforms to banking systems and 2) land policy reforms targeted at reducing the potential for rent extraction from home ownership.