For decades, many cities have introduced densification policy objectives to stop urban sprawl or to promote efficient use of natural resources. In the urban housing sector, however, densification projects often intensify social challenges. Due to rising rents after modernization of existing housing stocks as a consequence of densification, low-income tenants are forced to leave their apartments. Risks of social exclusion and segregation increase simultaneously. In this article, we analyze how municipal planning authorities cope with affordable housing shortages in a context of urban densification. Specifically, we ask: How do municipal planning authorities promote affordable housing in densifying cities? To answer this research question, we apply a neoinstitutional analysis approach to better understand (1) the basic mechanisms of how land policy instruments impact affordability, and (2) why specific instruments are activated to defend affordable housing objectives. Through qualitative case study analysis of four Swiss urban municipalities, our results show that the mere availability of land policy instruments is not sufficient but that the strategic activation of specific instruments matters.
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Land Use Policy is an international and interdisciplinary journal concerned with the social, economic, political, legal, physical and planning aspects of urban and rural land use. It provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and information from the diverse range of disciplines and interest groups which must be combined to formulate effective land use policies.
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