This essay is a revised, updated and edited version of a thematic report on the financial crisis and the right to adequate housing presented by myself (as UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing) to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2009. The report was written with the assistance of Bahram Ghazi, then assistant to the housing mandate in the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights.
Debates and Developments
Late Neoliberalism: The Financialization of Homeownership and Housing Rights
Article first published online: 24 APR 2013
© 2013 Urban Research Publications Limited
International Journal of Urban and Regional Research
Volume 37, Issue 3, pages 1058–1066, May 2013
How to Cite
Rolnik, R. (2013), Late Neoliberalism: The Financialization of Homeownership and Housing Rights. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 37: 1058–1066. doi: 10.1111/1468-2427.12062
- Issue published online: 24 APR 2013
- Article first published online: 24 APR 2013
- financialization of homeownership;
- right to housing, adequate housing;
- housing policy;
- housing markets
Over the last few decades we have witnessed a global U-turn in prevailing housing and urban policy agendas, spread around the world by the driving forces of globalization and neoliberalism. The new paradigm was mainly based on the withdrawal of states from the housing sector and the implementation of policies designed to create stronger and larger market-based housing finance models. The commodification of housing, together with the increased use of housing as an investment asset within a globalized financial market, has profoundly affected the enjoyment of the right to adequate housing. Taking the World Bank's 1993 manifesto as a starting point and the subprime crisis as its first great international flashpoint, this essay traces some key elements of the neoliberal approach to housing and its impact on the enjoyment of the right to housing in different contexts and times. The reform of housing policy — with all its components of homeownership, private property and binding financial commitments — has been central to the political and ideological strategies through which the dominance of neoliberalism is maintained. Conversely, the crisis (and its origins in the housing market) reflects the inability of market mechanisms to provide adequate and affordable housing for all.