Tag Archives: low-income housing

Invisible migrant enclaves in Chinese cities

Huang, Youqin, Yi Chengdong. (2014) Invisible migrant enclaves in Chinese cities : Underground living in Beijing, China. Urban Studies. Pre-published online, December 22, 2014. DOI: 10.1177/0042098014564535

China is experiencing an urban revolution, powered in part by hundreds of millions of migrant workers. Faced with institutionalised discrimination in the housing system and the lack of housing affordability, migrants have turned to virtually uninhabitable spaces such as basements and civil air defence shelters for housing. With hundreds of thousands of people living in crowded and dark basements, an invisible migrant enclave exists underneath the modern city of Beijing. We argue that in Chinese cities, housing has been adopted as an institution to exclude and marginalise migrants, through: (a) defining migrants as an inferior social class through the Hukou system and denying their rights to entitlements including housing; (b) abnormalising migrants through various derogatory naming and categorisations to legitimise exclusion; and (c) purifying and controlling migrant spaces to achieve exclusion and marginalisation. The forced popularity of basement renting reflects the reality that housing has become an institution of exclusion and marginalisation. It embodies vertical spatial marginalisation, with exacerbated contrasts between basement tenants and urban residents, heightened fear of the ‘other’, even more derogatory naming, and the government’s more aggressive clean-up of their spaces. We call for reforms and policy changes to ensure decent and affordable housing for basement tenants and migrants in general.

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Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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China’s low income urban housing

Cook, Ian G., Gu, Chaolin and Halsall, Jamie (2013) China’s low income urban housing . Asian Social Science. 9 (3) pp. 7-17. ISSN 1911-2017. DOI: 10.5539/ass.v9n3p7

In this paper, firstly the authors briefly outline the historical legacies of inner-city housing that are the focus for redevelopment today, and then summarise the legacy of mass housing built by the work-unit or danwei in the Maoist era. The bulk of the paper, however, is then concerned with the switch to privatisation (via ‘market socialism with Chinese characteristics’) in the Reform Period under Deng Xiaoping and his successors, and the role of land policy that forms an important constraint on housing provision. Demand for low-income housing is in part due to the continuation of the Maoist hukou registration system which acts as a major barrier to full participation in the housing market and consequently China’s cities now have a huge migrant non-hukou ‘floating population’ (liudong renkou) that must be housed via alternative means, preferably as cheaply and effectively as possible. There is also the situation of the ‘ant tribe’ of young low-paid college graduates to consider. For people like these renting in overcrowded conditions is one option, but because of China’s unique development trajectory, (driven by the Chinese Communist Party since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, self-help housing is not a major form of housing provision, therefore there are few examples to consider. Hence, we discuss several examples of China’s low income urban housing.

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Monique Abud

Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine, EHESS, Paris, France

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