Journal of Housing and the Built Environment

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 293–309 | Cite as

The creation of the incapable social tenant in Flanders, Belgium. An appraisal

  • Pascal De Decker
  • Isabelle Pannecoucke


As long as the social rented sector housed traditional families and the allocation procedures were rather loose, there was little commotion about the sector. A combination of a change in family structures, economic changes, and the strengthening of allocation procedures in favour of those most in need did change perceptions. Marginalisation and ghettoisation, especially of high-rise social housing estates, became buzzwords. This paper deals with the causes of these changes and with their implications. The marginalisation discourse calls for enlarging the target groups and estate-specific allocation procedures (to obtain a `social mix'). It illustrates a profound desire to diminish the number of ethnic minorities, single parents, single-person households and all kinds of people with a weak income profile who gain access to social rental housing. Furthermore, this discourse is reaching a crescendo: after it was started in the early 1990s by staff members of local social housing companies, it passed through the union of the social housing companies, the umbrella organisation of the sector, and parliament, reaching its greatest momentum so far in early 2002 when it was adopted by the Flemish housing minister. The counterpoint to this negative discourse is the high degree of satisfaction among social tenants, as observed in a study carried out in 1999. In our paper we will try to explain the background of these opposing trends and the possible consequences for the social rental housing in general and for tenants in particular.

incapable tenant marginalisation social housing stigmatisation 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pascal De Decker
    • 1
  • Isabelle Pannecoucke
  1. 1.OASeS (Research group on poverty, social exclusion and the city)Antwerp UniversityBelgium

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