Understandings of social mix and community opposition to social housing constructed under the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan

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    Historically social housing has acted as a catalyst for community concern, resistance and activism (Bostock et al., 2004; Rose, 2004; Kleinman, 1999). Such resistance is couched in concerns over the changing nature of place and the character of local neighbourhoods and anxiety over social issues such as crime and stigmatisation (Jacobs et al., 2011; Arthurson, 2004; Randolph and Wood, 2004). However with the Australian context, under a neoliberal urban governance model, such conflict and community concern has been tempered as very few new social housing dwellings have been constructed (Jacobs et al., 2010; Beer et al., 2007). With the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) this position changed with major public expenditure on new social housing coming from the Federal government under the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan (NBESP) in 2009/2010. This new construction acted as a trigger for community opposition in a number of targeted neighbourhoods. Community concerns was as much about process as it was opposition to new social housing construction. As part of this resistance, the discourse of social mix was adopted to challenge construction. The purpose of this paper is to neither provide a comprehensive review of academic writings on social mix nor to provide a detailed discussion of such policies in Australia, as this is done elsewhere (Randolph and Wood, 2004; Musterd and Andersson, 2005; Galster, 2007; Graham et al., 2009). Rather, while providing an overview of the perceived benefits of such polices at a broad level, here social mix is repositioned as a discursive construct which, at least in the context of the NBESP, has been adopted by local residents as a tool for challenging the legitimacy of new developments. Here rather than opposing social mix (or the development of social housing) residents are seen to support ‘appropriate’ social mix as a planning principal (echoing policy and some academics positions), but rather oppose the type and scale of mix thereby seeking to protect their neighbourhood. Social mix therefore moves from a policy objective (however loosely) associated with the management of social housing, to a discourse used to challenge the very process of providing social housing. This paper offers a unique opportunity to explore the ways in which social housing and notions of social mix are constructed by communities prior to new social tenants moving in. As such, this paper does not explore the actual interaction of public and private tenants, but rather focuses on the ways in which constructions of policy, community and social housing are mobilised to challenged the legitimacy of new social housing constructed under the NBESP.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationState of Australian Cities National Conference
    Subtitle of host publicationfull papers
    Place of PublicationMelbourne
    Number of pages10
    ISBN (Print)9780646568058
    Publication statusPublished - 2011
    EventState of Australian Cities Conference (5th : 2011) - Melbourne
    Duration: 29 Nov 20112 Dec 2011


    ConferenceState of Australian Cities Conference (5th : 2011)

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