Post-war large housing estates in Norway – Well-kept residential areas still stigmatised?

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Abstract

The large post-war housing estates constitute an important part of the housing resources in the large Norwegian cities, and the estates seem to present fairly satisfactory conditions physically and socially, compared to similar areas in other countries. Even so, Norwegian large housing estates are held in low esteem. Many of them are stigmatised, and there are some examples of areas facing grave problems. There are several reasons why large housing estates are held in low esteem and have a rather low score on socio-economic and social indicators. Low attraction, low preference for high-rise living, a deregulated housing market, the labelling process, spatial inequality and increasing socio-economic inequality have an impact on segregation and deprivation. We identify some additional factors to explain why large housing estates in Norway still seem to offer fairly satisfactory conditions: a mixed housing stock, the small size of Norwegian cities and estates, a growing local housing market, tenure (low proportion of rented dwellings and public housing), the composition of the occupants, low unemployment rate and a highly redistributing welfare system. Still, many estates are stigmatised and to a certain degree deprived. In these areas we see a need for initiatives to improve the situation. The results of most area-based initiatives in Norway have been positive, but it requires a long-term engagement, a broad perspective and variety of actions, close cooperation with the residents and sufficient resources. The housing co-operatives (co-ops) can create a good starting point for such processes of change when most of the population are already organised through co-ops.