Urban regeneration and housing policy — draft

Housing Regeneration Strategies: Towards Evidence-Based Practice
With post-doc Nava Kainer Persov

Funded by ISF – Israel Science foundation (270,000 NIS)

Housing regeneration is a main and necessary component of urban renewal, and will continue to be necessary in the foreseeable future in almost every city in the world. The research aims to (1) conceptualize the enormous amount of available information about projects of housing regeneration; (2) develop a method for ex-post evaluation of the projects, focusing of social justice considerations; (3) try the suggested method in the field, in order to enable evidence-based practice.
Preliminary results of an extensive literature survey identified three main strategies of housing regeneration that are currently implemented in Western countries, including Israel: (a) rehabilitation of the existing physical and social fabric; (b) demolition and redevelopment; (c) intensification of the existing urban housing by adding units attached to the existing ones or in their immediate proximity. A survey of the literature on evaluation of urban programs, especially impacts of housing regeneration projects on social equity, has led to proposing the following three evaluation measures: (a) distributive justice – costs and benefits for the most vulnerable stakeholders;(b) procedural justice – participation in decision-making; and (c) social mix in the new residential areas – mix of incumbent and new residents.
The ex-post evaluation is comprised of two units: an international unit – secondary analysis, a kind of meta-analysis of data from selected cases of housing regeneration from various countries, a few cases for each of the three identified strategies; only cases on which rich data was published and is available have been selected; an Israeli unit – primary data collection from projects of housing regeneration that are part of two different strategies, demolition and redevelopment (Pinui u’binui) and housing intensification (TAMA 38), using quantitative and qualitative research methods, including household survey of long-time and new residents. Similar questions are examined in both units, emphasizing the study of results of the regeneration projects in terms of social equity measures, while distinguishing among outputs, outcomes and impacts.

Housing Renewal and Structural Reinforcement in Israel’s Peripheral Towns
With Prof. Yechiel Rosenfeld, Planner Tami Gavrieli and students Inna Burstein and Doron Assis
Funded by Israel Ministry of Housing and Construction (230,755 NIS)

TAMA 38 is a national Israeli program to reinforce existing older buildings against damage by earthquakes. It takes advantage of the central urban planning system in the country to provide incentives for developers and homeowners; they receive building permits for housing renewal, both for expanding existing apartments and for adding new residential units on top of old buildings, providing that they strengthen the building and add anti-missile shelter rooms. The economic incentive where land values are high, in the center of the country, has been strong enough for a few thousand projects to be currently in process. However, none of them have been initiated in the peripheral regions, where land values are low, or along the Syrian-African Rift, where the risk is much higher than in Tel Aviv metropolitan area. Our research is intended to address this problem and suggest ways to overcome it.
Interim findings, based on literature surveys and interviews with practitioners, have led to develop alternatives to the national plan, alternatives that are designed to work synergistically in order to enable the program to be applicable where land values are low. Architectural alternatives, structural alternatives and financial alternatives for strengthening residential buildings and regenerating them are being studied, as well as special community-related and organizational-related guidelines that are being developed. The general conclusion that may be drawn is that the goals of urban regeneration and urban resilience, each on its own, cannot be achieved; however, simultaneous planning towards the two of them creates a synergy that enables achievement of both, even in urban areas with low land value.

Housing Cooperative In Israel: Challenges and Opportunities
With Dr. Efrat Eizenberg and MSc student Aviv Negbi

A housing cooperative is a legal entity that creates joint ownership of real estate. A housing cooperative constitutes intermediate housing tenure, between ownership and leasing; and like other intermediate tenures, it aims to promote housing stability, grant the tenants control over their living conditions and environment, and offer housing prices below market prices. Throughout the Western world, cooperatives constitute an accepted form of housing tenure; about 10% of the housing units in Europe are organized as cooperatives. In light of the continuously rising housing costs in Israel, and the diminishing prospects of many people for obtaining housing, the absence of a cooperative housing solution in Israel becomes ever more glaring.
This study explores the possibility of establishing housing cooperatives in Israel, examining their feasibility, the barriers facing them, and the opportunities available to them. The study aims to examine the cooperative model for populations that are currently struggling to achieve housing stability in Israel. To this end, we have chosen three population groups for which a housing cooperative might provide a solution: lower-middle-class citizens, low-income households, and single mothers.
The study begins by analyzing and characterizing three models of cooperative housing from different countries, each addressing one of the three target groups identified in the Israeli arena. The second phase of the study includes interviews with fourteen experts in the field of economics, law, culture, cooperatives, and housing policy in Israel. Thematic analysis of the interviews enables us to identify the opportunities and barriers facing the creation of Israeli housing cooperatives, in each of the experts’ fields. In the third phase of the study, three focus groups were gathered from among the three chosen target populations. The focus groups seek to learn the participants’ perceptions on housing and their housing needs, as well as to delineate the various housing aspects represented in cooperative housing, and to find out the participants’ attitudes and perceptions regarding those aspects.
In accordance with the nature of this study, its key conclusions will be practical, most of them actions towards removing obstacles and using the opportunities to make the establishment of housing cooperatives in Israel feasible.

Affordable Housing in Central Cities of the Developed Economies
Part (A) Affordable Housing in Global Cities
With Dr. Nati Marom
Part (A) was funded by Lady Davis Foundation (completed)

The research reviews and analyzes critically contemporary housing policies and plans in London and New York, in the context of neoliberal urban governance. We find in both cities severe housing affordability problems, an increasing dependence on provision of affordable housing by the market, and a gradual shift from support of low- and moderate-income residents to promoting housing for households around and above median income. Affordable housing plans in both cities also link their “marketplace” orientation to “social mix” objectives. The research addresses socio-spatial implications of these plans and raises concerns regarding the implementation and unintended consequences of mixed-income housing. It discusses ideas and tools for more equitable affordable housing policies. Finally, we suggest that our analysis of the policy trends in London and New York, and the implications we draw, can be relevant to other global and globalizing cities, which face similar affordability concerns and rely on the marketplace to address housing needs.

Part (B) Housing Renewal Projects and the Availability of Affordable Housing
With post-doc Nava Kainer Persov
Part (B) is in process

Housing renewal projects in Israel of the 21st century are typical public-private initiatives of the neo-liberal era, which assign first priority to the financial concerns of private developers, respect home owners and completely disregard renters. Two strategies of renewal are common: demolition and redevelopment (pinui u’binui) and intensification of the urban fabric. The intensification (TAMA 38) takes the form of adding space to existing units in selected buildings besides adding floors with large apartments to the same buildings, or the form of replacing a building by a taller one with larger apartments. All current renewal projects have taken place in the central regions of the country, because this is where land value is high enough to create large profits for developers.
The immediate outcome of both strategies is a gradual elimination of smaller and older apartments, i. e., gradual elimination of affordable housing units in Israel’s central cities and towns. In parallel, the extended apartments and the high-standard of the new residences that are the results of these renewal projects play a significant role in the trend of rising housing prices in these cities and towns. The research is designed to quantify these trends and explore the differentiation between the two strategies. Although both reduce dramatically the chances of lower-income households to reach affordable housing in these localities, at least one is hypothesized as contributing to the opportunities open to lower-middle-class households to improve their housing conditions in areas they may want to live in, and do that for prices they can afford.

More in Current Research: