Housing as a Nexus of Unaffordability, Illegality and Livability

A special issue of Buildings (ISSN 2075-5309). This special issue belongs to the section "Architectural Design, Urban Science, and Real Estate".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2023) | Viewed by 15034

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Institute of Policy Studies & Department of Sociology and Social Policy, Lingnan University, Hong Kong 999077, China
Interests: building illegality; building control; building management; building rehabilitation; housing studies; green building economics; inclusive built environment; urban renewal and regeneration
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Providing affordable housing for its residents has long been a challenge for many cities in both the Global South and Global North. The imbalance between supply and demand of affordable housing triggers the proliferation of substandard or even illegal housing in many cases. While the extant literature on this aspect has focused mainly on informal settlements built on government land (such as slums and squatter areas) and urban enclaves (such as urban villages), little attention has been paid to unlawful extensions or alterations of existing housing stock. In many cities such as Hong Kong, Guangzhou, London and Melbourne, existing houses or apartment units are subdivided in an illegal or unauthorized manner and leased out to low-income earners. Addressing this informal housing crisis will require research that illustrates the scope of the problem. The questions of how the informal housing sector swells in these places and how safe and decent accommodation can be provided to the disadvantaged must be investigated. This Special Issue calls for papers that can address any of the following questions:

  • How does the problem of housing illegality evolve?
  • How do we predict who the residents in the illegal housing sector will be?
  • Why do institutions fail to cope with the problems of housing illegality?
  • How is illegal housing configured spatially?
  • How do informal settlements or illegal housing shape the quality of life of the residents?
  • Does housing illegality contribute to threats to public health, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic? If yes, in what ways?
  • Are there any socially innovative solutions to this informal housing crisis?

Prof. Dr. Yung Yau
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • building control
  • building stock management
  • development control
  • housing illegality
  • illegality
  • informal settlement
  • informality
  • livability
  • public health
  • quality of life
  • unlawful alterations

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

15 pages, 1479 KiB  
Article
Investigating the Influence of Age-Friendly Community Infrastructure Facilities on the Health of the Elderly in China
by Qingwen Chen, Zhao Zhang, Yihua Mao, Ruyu Deng, Yueyao Shui, Kai Wang and Yuchen Hu
Buildings 2023, 13(2), 341; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings13020341 - 24 Jan 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2283
Abstract
Global population aging has become a continuous and irreversible trend. Most of the elderly in China prefer “aging in place” owing to the influence of traditional concepts and social welfare, but many communities, as a basic place for the elderly to live, generally [...] Read more.
Global population aging has become a continuous and irreversible trend. Most of the elderly in China prefer “aging in place” owing to the influence of traditional concepts and social welfare, but many communities, as a basic place for the elderly to live, generally lack age-friendly infrastructure facilities. Based on the 2018 China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study database, this study applies the propensity score matching method to empirically investigate the influence of the infrastructure facilities on the health of the elderly in China. The results show that adding elevators, installing bathing facilities, supplying gas or natural gas, and changing squatting toilets into sitting toilets, positively influence the health of the elderly, but there are some differences. The order of the degree of impact on self-rated health (SRH) was elevator > toilet type > kitchen gas supply > bathing facility, while that of activities of daily living (ADL) was bathing facility > toilet type > elevator > kitchen gas supply. Elderly people with different personal characteristics and family status have different degrees of ownership for the infrastructure facilities. It is suggested that age-friendly regeneration schemes be developed according to the different impacts and demands of the facilities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Housing as a Nexus of Unaffordability, Illegality and Livability)
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24 pages, 8539 KiB  
Article
The Inter/Transdisciplinary Framework for Urban Governance Intervention in the Egyptian Informal Settlements
by Eman El Nachar and Doaa Abouelmagd
Buildings 2023, 13(2), 265; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings13020265 - 17 Jan 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1619
Abstract
There is a need to understand the complex nature of informal settlements to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 11: “Making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable”. Thus, addressing the urban governance of informal settlements requires an [...] Read more.
There is a need to understand the complex nature of informal settlements to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 11: “Making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable”. Thus, addressing the urban governance of informal settlements requires an inter/trans-disciplinary scope to reach a cross-cutting agenda that combines social/behavioral, economics, and public health with the built environment disciplines. Respectively, this paper aims to establish an integrative framework based upon a blended inter/trans-disciplinary approach of urban governance for informal settlements in Egypt. The study adopts a theoretical analytic methodology to achieve its aim by reviewing the literature on informal settlement policies. It argues that the inter/trans-disciplinarity approach contributes to integrative urban governance agendas that enhance the quality of life of informal settlements. While exploring three bottom-up perspectives of understanding the formation of informal urban settings—socioeconomic, morphological, and sociophysical—an integrative model is developed to allow a contextual perspective for examining informal domains. The model is articulated to guide the purpose of the multidimensional analysis methods for investigating informal contexts. An integrative agenda with six analysis tasks, each involving interdisciplinary group of academics, experts, stakeholders, and authorized representatives, is outlined by the method originated in this paper. Ultimately, and concerning aspects of sustainable urban cities, the paper introduces an integrative agenda that enables overcoming gaps in current upgrading practices when examining the informal settlements of the Egyptian contexts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Housing as a Nexus of Unaffordability, Illegality and Livability)
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23 pages, 857 KiB  
Article
Lead-Lag Relationship between the Price-to-Rent Ratio and the Macroeconomy: An Empirical Study of the Residential Market of Hong Kong
by Daniel Lo, Yung Yau, Michael McCord and Martin Haran
Buildings 2022, 12(9), 1345; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings12091345 - 31 Aug 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2121
Abstract
The price-to-rent (PtR) ratio is one of the most commonly used indicators to assess housing market conditions by policy makers and real estate practitioners. It is often employed as an economic barometer to detect whether a housing bubble exists and determine whether the [...] Read more.
The price-to-rent (PtR) ratio is one of the most commonly used indicators to assess housing market conditions by policy makers and real estate practitioners. It is often employed as an economic barometer to detect whether a housing bubble exists and determine whether the property market has become unaffordable relative to historical trends. Despite a plethora of research studies on the PtR ratio in the housing literature, relatively little is known about its long-term dynamics with macroeconomic and financial determinants. By utilising time series data on the Hong Kong residential property market, this study examines the cointegration and causal relationships between a wide spectrum of macroeconomic indicators and the PtR ratios of housing segments of different tiers which comprise different socioeconomic groups of homebuyers and investors. The results point towards market compartmentalisation, in the sense that the PtR ratios of the housing submarkets respond to changes in macroeconomic fundamentals in a differential manner. For instance, the PtR ratios of housing segments with a greater proportion of owner-occupiers are statistically less y correlated with investment-related macroeconomic attributes, such as foreign direct investment and equity market performance. On the other hand, the pricing of large-sized housing units in prime locations, generally favoured by investors from mainland China, are found to be Granger-caused by the exchange rate of the Chinese Yuan to the Hong Kong dollar. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Housing as a Nexus of Unaffordability, Illegality and Livability)
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22 pages, 1547 KiB  
Article
No More Illegal Subdivided Units? A Game-Theoretical Explanation of the Failure of Building Control in Hong Kong
by Yung Yau and Ka Chi Yip
Buildings 2022, 12(7), 1005; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings12071005 - 13 Jul 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3493
Abstract
Safety has long been regarded as one of the most important functional requirements of buildings. However, building safety in Hong Kong has long been jeopardised by the proliferation of unauthorised building works (UBWs), which are essentially works constructed without any prior approval or [...] Read more.
Safety has long been regarded as one of the most important functional requirements of buildings. However, building safety in Hong Kong has long been jeopardised by the proliferation of unauthorised building works (UBWs), which are essentially works constructed without any prior approval or consent of the government. Due to the acute problem of housing supply–demand imbalance, the numbers of illegal subdivided units (ISUs) in the city have been increasing since the early 2010s, frequently resulting in injuries and deaths amongst the residents. It is therefore a matter of urgency for the government to tackle the problem. Speculative property owners construct ISUs in their premises for economic gain so the government needs to enforce rules against the construction of ISUs. Building inspection should be carried out to uncover cases of illegal construction for subsequent enforcement actions. In this article, a game-theoretic model for the strategic control of existing buildings in Hong Kong is developed to illustrate that, when the level of punishment against ISU increases, the less frequent ISU inspections needed by the government will be, and concurrently, the chances of ISU construction by property owners will decrease. The model offers valuable insights into why Hong Kong’s building control system fails to solve the problem of ISU proliferation in the city. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Housing as a Nexus of Unaffordability, Illegality and Livability)
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16 pages, 4498 KiB  
Article
Early Experience of Land Readjustment in Hong Kong: Case Study of the Kowloon Walled City
by Mark Hansley Chua and Yung Yau
Buildings 2022, 12(6), 757; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings12060757 - 2 Jun 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 4439
Abstract
Since the early 2010s, sub-divided flats have been proliferating in Hong Kong—one of the world’s most compact and expensive cities to live in. The growth of informal housing in the city has long been attributed to the shortage of housing supply. Apart from [...] Read more.
Since the early 2010s, sub-divided flats have been proliferating in Hong Kong—one of the world’s most compact and expensive cities to live in. The growth of informal housing in the city has long been attributed to the shortage of housing supply. Apart from developing new land for housing, one possible approach to deal with the land supply constraint is to speed up the redevelopment of old buildings in the city centre in order to maximise the land use potential. Yet, this approach brings about many socio-economic issues that drive up the transaction costs for its implementation. To get around the hurdles of urban redevelopment, a land management technique called land readjustment (LR) has been recommended, but its use has never been institutionalised in the city. Using declassified archival documents and maps, this article argues that LR was already implemented—albeit informally—in Hong Kong during the 1960s–70s within the Kowloon Walled City. With the historical experience of the City of Darkness, the aim of this article is to shed light on the in situ resettlement of original site residents—very much at the heart of land readjustment—as a means to bring down the transaction costs of deep urban redevelopment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Housing as a Nexus of Unaffordability, Illegality and Livability)
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17 pages, 1371 KiB  
Article
The Effect of Building Electricity Consumption on Residents’ Subjective Well-Being: Evidence from China
by Yidong Wu, Yanbo Wu, Yalin Zhang, Xianzhu Wang and Zisheng Song
Buildings 2022, 12(6), 710; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings12060710 - 25 May 2022
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2000
Abstract
Residential electricity consumption has an important impact on China’s construction of a low-carbon society. However, at present, little of the literature analyzes the influencing factors of residents’ overall well-being from the perspective of micro investigation. Based on the micro mixed cross section data [...] Read more.
Residential electricity consumption has an important impact on China’s construction of a low-carbon society. However, at present, little of the literature analyzes the influencing factors of residents’ overall well-being from the perspective of micro investigation. Based on the micro mixed cross section data of the Chinese General Social Survey (CGSS), this paper empirically studies the impact of residential electricity consumption on residents’ subjective well-being. In addition, in the heterogeneity analysis, we found that an increase in residential electricity consumption will improve the overall well-being of females and people with low levels of education, but it has no significant effect on males and people with high levels of education. Moreover, the increase in residential electricity consumption has improved the life satisfaction of young people and middle-aged people. Meanwhile, the increase in residential electricity consumption has a significant, positive impact on both low-income and high-income households. Further analysis shows that no nonlinear relationship exists between the increase in residents’ power consumption and the improvement in life satisfaction. This paper enriches the research on residential energy and provides policy implications for the current Chinese government to save energy, reduce emissions, and improve residents’ quality of life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Housing as a Nexus of Unaffordability, Illegality and Livability)
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19 pages, 1497 KiB  
Article
An Analysis of Transaction Costs Involved in the Urban Village Redevelopment Process in China
by Dinghuan Yuan, Yung Yau, Wenyi Lin and Jianxin Cheng
Buildings 2022, 12(5), 692; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings12050692 - 22 May 2022
Viewed by 1946
Abstract
A well-designed institutional arrangement for urban village redevelopment projects (UVRPs) must consider transaction costs, but academic papers discussing it from the perspective of transaction cost economics are lacking. This paper applies theory of transaction cost economics to analyse the types and sizes of [...] Read more.
A well-designed institutional arrangement for urban village redevelopment projects (UVRPs) must consider transaction costs, but academic papers discussing it from the perspective of transaction cost economics are lacking. This paper applies theory of transaction cost economics to analyse the types and sizes of transaction costs and who bears these costs during redevelopment when implementing UVRPs in China. This paper finds that transactions in UVRPs have high asset specificity, high uncertainty and low frequency, which easily results in high levels of transaction costs. Based on 439 UVRPs collected from seven cities, this paper finds that UVRPs implemented with top–down institutional arrangements remain prevalent in China. Based on semi-structured interviews with participating parties, this paper proves that the sizes and types of transaction costs and the distribution of these costs borne by different participating parties vary with the change of stage under dissimilar institutional arrangements. This implies that a high level of transaction costs at one stage does not necessarily mean the costs stay high at another stage. Transaction costs have essential implications for process efficiency, so policymakers need to consider transaction costs and use hybrid institutional arrangements to enhance the efficiency and sustainability of policies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Housing as a Nexus of Unaffordability, Illegality and Livability)
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15 pages, 2054 KiB  
Article
Housing Expectations of Future Seniors Based on an Example of the Inhabitants of Poland
by Agata Gawlak, Magda Matuszewska and Agata Skórka
Buildings 2021, 11(7), 305; https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings11070305 - 14 Jul 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2741
Abstract
A longer life span, which entails a dynamic increase in the numbers of seniors, poses a wide range of global challenges, among others for engineers and architects. The said challenges include, among others, a well-organised medical care system, proper legislation and social education. [...] Read more.
A longer life span, which entails a dynamic increase in the numbers of seniors, poses a wide range of global challenges, among others for engineers and architects. The said challenges include, among others, a well-organised medical care system, proper legislation and social education. The respective planning process should also recognise the important role of a well-designed environment. This paper is intended to analyse the current senior housing solutions in Poland and to define the desirable development of those housing forms that can successfully meet the needs of future seniors. For this purpose, we have analysed the current structure of elderly care. Further, this research was conducted using the diagnostic poll method (“Housing needs of the future seniors”), in order to define the current housing preferences of the young (future seniors). The results thereof provide relevant guidance in the search for spatial solutions that can ensure a high-quality housing environment for seniors in the future, which, at the same time, will facilitate their independent living. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Housing as a Nexus of Unaffordability, Illegality and Livability)
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