Affordable Housing in NYC and London: Contemporary Policies between ‘Marketplace’ and ‘Mix’

Marom Nati and Carmon Neomi

On the background of severe housing affordability problems in global cities, this article reviews contemporary housing policies and plans in London and NYC in the context of neoliberal urban regime. In both cities we find an increasing dependence on the market for the supply of affordable housing and an accelerated shift from targeting low- and moderate-income residents to supporting housing for close-to- and above-median-income households. Social mix policies are found to be linked to affordable housing and concerns regarding their implementation and unintended consequences – including gentrification and displacement – are presented and discussed. The article addresses also policy implications and suggests research-based tools for more equitable affordable housing policies. These include prioritizing the upgrading of existing housing stock over demolition and redevelopment, and promoting social mix in the form of small homogeneous housing clusters within heterogeneous neighborhoods. Finally, we hypothesize that discussion of London and NYC is relevant also to other global and globalizing cities, which similarly face an ‘affordability crisis’ and rely heavily on the private sector to provide affordable housing.

Key words:  affordable housing, global cities, housing policy, mixed-income housing, gentrification, social equity