10. Housing and urban rehabilitation and qualification for places of dignity

The rehabilitation of urban areas in order to improve living conditions is a central concern of urban policies. Over the years, the objectives of urban rehabilitation have extended from the improvement of the quality of the dwellings, via the improvement of the quality of buildings, public space and facilities, to the improvement of “quality of life” in the broadest sense, including notions of socio-economic development, environmental wellbeing, and social cohesion.

Since the 1990s, under the influence of the retreat of the welfare state, and of cuts in public spending, urban rehabilitation projects have become more and more dependent on private investment. Public interventions have become indirect, focussing on incentivising private investment in deprived areas.

In the current situation, after the Great Financial Crisis, this approach to urban rehabilitation is challenged. Private investors have become more selective in their investment decisions, and more reluctant to invest in the rehabilitation of deprived areas. As the public budgets are also decreasing, new ways have to be found to rehabilitate those areas.

In this context, participative practices, and the stimulation of citizen initiatives in order to improve living conditions are considered as innovative ways to appraoch urban rehabilitation. But what are the capacities of such approaches to actually regenerate deprived areas? How to mobilise citizens to participate actively in the improvement of their neigbourhoods? What kind of economic model to invent in order to translate citizen involvement into investment? What is the most appropriate role of the public sector in this context?

The aim of the track is to explore these and related questions on the relation between urban rehabilitation, citizen initiatives, private investment, and public sector activities. The track would welcome papers focusing on theoretical reflections, and applied analyses of urban policies and projects dealing with these issues.