Urban growth, social-spatial inequalities and housing policy: A case study of Cordoba, Argentina
Urbana: Urban Affairs and Public Policy
Numerous studies point out as a new feature of the process of socio-territorial transformations in the new century, the intensification of inequalities and the increasing difficulty in accessing affordable housing in the cities. In Cordoba Argentina, urban form is characterized by low densities, discontinuous expansion, increased segregation, and urban fragmentation. The paradox is that even in a context of economic growth (during the first decade of the 21st century) the housing deficit and
... sing deficit and urban informality enlarged. The objective of the research is to determine the way in which housing policy has influenced the production of new territories. The methodology seeks to integrate quantitative and qualitative approaches. The results allow us to recognize processes of urban fragmentation, as well as the conditions derived from the peripheral location of housing policy. In this way, we seek in this study to advance in the notion of more inclusive residential environments. Socio-territorial transformations, physical expansion, and the growth of urban inequalities In the last three decades, Latin America has become an essentially urban region. More than 70% of its population live on cities; and some countries such as Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, and Uruguay, exceed 80% of the urban population. The studies on the evolution of growth in the main cities of the region, as well as in cities of developed countries, indicate that the characteristic feature in recent decades is the extension of urbanization. The general tendency is the conformation of metropolitan areas with diffuse borders and regional agglomerations and the decline in densities of the built-up areas (UN HABITAT 2012; Angel, 2010) . It is noted that the annexation of urbanized land accompanies the transformations produced in recent decades, in most of the cities of the region, even when population growth ratio has slowed. As Abramo (2004) points out, the extension of physical growth responds to different logics of spatial production (the logic of private capital, of state action and of necessity) that compete for a scarce resource: urban land. Numerous researches indicate that the main characteristic of the process of socioterritorial transformations that cities have in the new century is the intensification of inequalities. Also, there is an increasing difficulty in getting access to worthy livable conditions, which affects an increasingly large number of urban residents in Latin America. Since the nineties of the last century, it is observed in most of the cities of the region that the socio-spatial forms in the periphery of cities are associated with a more divided urban-space. The different urban sectors are interconnected, yet are separated, either by functional divisions (residential areas, public spaces, industrial zones, etc.) or by social divisions. The areas in the city that different sectors of the population occupy, reflect, and reinforce conditions of inequality (Marcuse, 2000). Social inequalities, as main characteristic of urbanization in Latin America, are manifested in the urban form: dual and polarized residential areas, ones with luxury environments, physically differentiated and closed; and others, impoverished places that concentrate a highly vulnerable population and low levels of public investment in urban services and infrastructure. The reproduction of inequalities within cities and the intensification of residential segregation among population groups with a much greater intensity than in previous stages, is evident when analyzing the possibilities of access to land and housing-markets for different social sectors. Growth crises, derived from the mismatches between the demand for spaces and the supply of land and housing in the market, translate into the lack of urbanized land. Following the hypothesis of Harvey (1989, p. 121) the market limits the possibilities that different social actors have to choose a location in the city, the dynamics of urbanization create a structure where individuals can choose, but cannot influence the production of urban land value. This process "can only be corrected through a public housing policy that goes beyond the pure and simple acceptance of market trends" (Castells, 1990, p. 37). Land and housing become essential assets for the development of urban life and are an essential component for overcoming poverty. The current context of financialization of land and housing, coupled with the accelerated precariousness of urban workers, has had a significant impact on the right to the city, in terms of access to a decent habitation for much of the population.