Unaffordable socialized housing and real estate financialization as neoliberal governmentality in the urban South

Authors: Chester Antonino Arcilla*, University of the Phllippines-Manila
Topics: Economic Geography, Urban Geography, Political Geography
Keywords: Affordability, Financialization, Global South, Precarity
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 38
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Forced evictions into unaffordable socialized housing of precarious urban workers underpin Philippine real estate expansion. Using socialized housing and macroeconomic data analysis and building on earlier work in housing governmentality, I explicate the economics of unaffordable socialized housing and trace this problem to increasing labor precarity and real estate financialization.

The current dominant approach to socialized housing – mortgaged and privately-produced completed housing units in off-city resettlement – barely addresses affordability issues. These focus on lowering housing prices and fail to account for livelihood displacement, living costs, and social service inaccessibility. The substantial gap between what prices the private shelter producers find economically feasible and the poor's actual capacities to pay for housing highlight that the housing crisis is a problem of labor precarity.

Coinciding with the implementation of dominant socialized housing beginning in the 2000s, real wages growth is zero despite increasing workers’ productivity. Decades of declining agriculture and manufacturing production, coupled with the withdrawal of labor protection, have created conditions for expanding livelihood and habitation informality in Philippine cities. Current gentrification projects are fuelled by foreign investment and overseas Filipino remittances through elite real estate corporations' financialization.

With immense livelihood precarity and huge slum populations, unaffordable socialized housing in the Philippines is a critical neoliberal technology where surplus populations are transformed into consumers for credit-led accumulation and slum communities torn down for gentrification.

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