The Key Ideas

#85 Desegregate housing along socioeconomic lines though mixed community planning

There are two explicit social (and economic) goals which should be a definitive part of a public housing strategy. The first is to control house prices. As discussed previously, house price rises in Britain have been driven not by social need but by financial speculation. Rising house prices is one of the most direct ways that wealth has been transferred from the majority of the population to a minority, and so is at the heart of inequality. Perpetually-rising house prices are very clearly not sustainable. There must be a manageable way to bring house price inflation back under control. Greater housing supply will do that on its own, but even more so if people are given an option of high-quality rental housing and are not left with their only option being to buy houses from commercial developers. Diversity in the housing market will ease the pressures of what has become a sort of cartel in which a very small number of enterprises control most of the housing supply for purely commercial aims. Rent controls in the private rental sector will also have an impact.

The second is the desegregation of housing. The uniform nature of housing developments leads to a uniform pricing of the houses in those developments. This in turn leads to people of specific income spectrums inhabiting these uniform developments. So we end up with housing estates of high earners, housing estates of high-middle earners, housing estates of low-middle earners and so on. This creates a society which is segregated on the basis of income. We are no longer building mixed communities where we meet people who are not exactly like us. This damages our society and hinders empathyour ability to understand how other people live and the different sets of issues that affect their lives. If we can build public rental housing which is both so good in quality and so reasonable in price that it is accessible both by people with low incomes and desirable by, for example, young professionals, designed to be attractive to both young and old, we can create mixed communities. From this intermixing, community empathy and cohesion can grow.