Virtual Special Issue – Housing and Disadvantaged Groups

Housing is not equally accessible to all; instead housing exclusion is rife and across the developed world it is often the same groups who are disadvantaged. Lines of exclusion are persistently drawn according to age, gender, ethnicity, disability, residence status, and of course socio-economic status, and whilst each individual encounter with exclusionary housing systems will differ from the next, many of the same problems are reported.

Disadvantaged groups are frequently restricted by their housing options; with limited access to different tenures and locations. Moreover, housing conditions are often poor both in terms of housing quality and neighborhood conditions, including racial discrimination.

This virtual special issue focuses on the housing issues faced by disadvantaged groups and considers the potential positive impacts of housing policy interventions. Delfani, De Deken and Dewilde examine the impacts of pension and housing systems on poverty amongst the elderly, concluding that poverty levels amongst the elderly are reduced in countries with high rates of home-ownership. Lux and Sunega also focus on the elderly, describing the importance of tenure in increasing the limited housing options available to this particular group. A lack of suitable housing options is also a concern in Skifter Anderson et al.’s paper on housing policy for ethnic minorities in the Nordic countries and Netto’s discussion of refugee housing experiences in Scotland. These two papers share a further similarity in their discussion of the poor housing conditions, including racial discrimination, often faced by these two groups. Low incomes are common amongst the disadvantaged groups discussed in these papers and Skobba and Goetz focus on this important household characteristic in their study of housing experiences in the USA. Their paper explores coping strategies, which often includes doubling up, whereby households rely on family, friends and acquaintances to keep a roof over their heads. This virtual special issue ends with Levy-Vroelant’s (2010) perceptive policy review on housing and vulnerable groups.

– Peter Mackie, Review Editor, International Journal of Housing Policy