The Home Show

Can the global housing crisis be solved?

The Home Show In our increasingly crowded cities, the idea of owning the roof over your head is becoming more remote for the majority of citizens. This investigation travels to London, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Tokyo and New York in search of some solutions. From left-of-field entrepreneurs and government schemes to shipping container villages, it discovers that people the world over are developing innovative ways to solve the developed world’s housing crisis.

“Forget the politicians, forget them! They’re not going to help us. They can’t, OK? End of story!” exclaims Kim Loudrrup, a developer of cheap, floating apartments in Copenhagen. Kim believes that communities have to take matters into their own hands, or risk emptying Danish cities of their key workers. “The way we’re going now is that we’re pushing the existing infrastructure out of the big cities, I mean our nurses and our taxi drivers and our students – all the small cogs in the big machinery are being pushed out.”

Other ideas need government. Witness Co-op City, New York’s socialistic experiment that may be the world’s biggest housing development, with 15,000 apartments catering for up to 50,000 middle and lower income workers and seniors, it’s a mini-government all by itself. “This is a success story. We have people who work in hospitals, people who work for the Board of Education, teachers and what not and then we have a bunch of people who do business on their own”, explains Co-op City’s General Manager, Noel Ellison.

In Barcelona, locals are furious at being priced out of the market by hordes of cashed-up foreigners renting through sites like Airbnb. Now authorities are cracking down. The city’s employs inspectors who knock door-to-door, unnerving tourist tenants and busting illegal landlords who can cop fines of up to $100,000. “It’s very weird, no? Suddenly, you are a tourist, and you are having a holiday and someone knocks on the door and starts asking questions”, says inspector Carolina Perez.

There is no silver bullet for all our housing problems. But creative approaches – even niche ideas like tiny houses, canal boats and shipping containers, combined with a dose of brave public policy – can make a real difference.

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