Planning for equal social sustainability at the intersection of social policy and housing policy


Chiara Valli , Stina Hansson (project leader), Nazem Tahvilzadeh, Klara Öberg

The housing crisis in Sweden is primarily characterized by inequality. The dominating response, i.e. to build new housing based on market principles, will not solve the problem of structural homelessness, overcrowding and insecure tenure for people excluded from the possibility of choosing where and how to live. Instead, these problems land in the lap of the social services, as ultimately responsible for providing the homeless with dwellings. So do the negative social effects of lack of adequate housing, with significant impact on social work. Due to extensive socioeconomic and ethnic segregation in Swedish cities, the situation contributes to cement and exacerbate patterns of exclusion and in the long run to break down social cohesion.

Taking as its point of departure the problems experienced by the social services regarding the housing situation of their clients, the project brings together research on social sustainability, housing policy, public administration and social work. The research will map and critically analyze governance in its discourses and everyday unfolding, at the intersection of housing policy and social policy, looking for governing mechanisms that enable planning for transformation that includes currently excluded groups.

We plan to do a comparative process tracing analysis of sustainability policies, existing solutions to social housing problems and their implementation and negotiation in practice. The study builds on close collaboration with the administrations in the two cities, Boverket, the region, the County Administrative Board, SALAR and civil society to formulate relevant research questions, together develop concrete recommendations and to effectively spread learning among practitioners and decision makers. 

This grant will be used to develop a complete research application and for three primary purposes to this end: 1) identifying the international research front and understanding the European context 2) developing interdisciplinary collaborations between the researchers and designing work packages, 3) organizing two workshops to develop collaborations with public administration and civil society organizations.

Financing body: The Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (FORMAS)