At a panel discussion, IUE experts presented a review of international and national practices in urban development regulation for improved housing affordability. A study by IUE was presented by T. Polidi, IUE Executive Director and Real Estate Market Department Director.
According to T. Polidi, at the stage of strong economic growth, with annual GDP growth at 7 percent, in Russia during the first decade of the 21st century, the increase in household income, combined with practically unlimited possibilities for developing cities’ fringes and peri-urban areas, resulted in a significant increase in residential construction, though without paying much attention to its quality. Today we have different economic conditions when real household income is shrinking, thus putting limits to the market potential, along with a scarcity of areas most attractive for development. The urge for creating a comfortable urban environment makes it necessary to ensure the access to affordable housing via the development of market housing, social housing and also non-profit rental housing. This is the case in foreign countries where the homeowners’ share is insignificant, but along with the creation of ‘expensive’ urban environment the mechanisms for redistribution of private urban resources for development of rental housing, including the housing affordable for households with modest and low income, are being formed.
Representatives of state agencies, design organizations, development companies, architecture firms, professional associations, financial companies, and legal and educational institutions took part in the discussions.
The findings of the study concerning a number of European cities were shared by A. Kolontai, Moscow GenPlan Institute Director. The findings show that social housing policies in European cities, such as, for instance, Vienna, Helsinki, the Netherlands and Scandinavia, do not focus exclusively on weak low-income households but rather they aim at sustainable development of the society. “The idea is to form ‘social lifts’ for development of the population, to attract the best staff to cities and to form future economy, or human capital, in other words,” said A. Kolontai.
N. Kosareva, IUE President, turning to the stages of development of the housing policy in Russia, noted three historic points of reference: a ‘give-away’ privatization of housing, development of housing and mortgage markets, improving the affordability of homeownership. She said that the stages had been linked to the most important priorities of each historic period and had been determined by certain stages of socio-economic development. “Today we have already approached a new stage of town-planning and housing policies, and new priorities are needed – high-quality urban environment and tough town-planning policy, for one part, and a new large-sale project on development of affordable rental housing, on the other part,” concluded N. Kosareva.