housing the urban poor- a tale of two cities in China

Authors: Li Yu*, University of Lethbridge, Wei Xu, University of Lethbridge
Topics: China, Economic Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: housing market, low-income housing, urban development, housing inequality
Session Type: Paper


“Where does the poor live in the city and why?” is a classical and forever-puzzling question to urban geographers. In the context of China, the urban housing market has undergone profound neoliberal-like shifts since the late 1980s. Subsequently, much evidence suggests that around 2010 is the turning point of China’s housing policy pivoting to a more mixed “post-neoliberal” scheme. The reinforced governmental regulation, re-emphasis on public housing program along with the strong inertia of commercialization, privatization and decentralization in housing market, have simultaneously shaped and transformed the residential space in Chinese cities in recent years. Few studies have examined how the housing distribution system is functioning under such subtle context on a city-level, even fewer have touched upon its implications and impacts on low income urban residents. What are the locations, housing conditions and the neighbourhood conditions for low-income urban residents? What makes urban poor choose the current housing? And more importantly, what is the casual mechanism of such a pattern?

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