Why it’s time to consider both the social and political dimensions of housing in Kuwait and how the earliest housing programs fueled social divisions and current biases. #Thread
Neighborhoods in the early stages of modern development were built as semiautonomous units with access to schools & other amenities, principles that supported a shift from urban to suburban living. They also reflected class politics that discouraged vibrant & diverse communities
The first suburban dwellers had the choice of buying either government-owned land at prices below market value through interest-free loans, or government-built detached single-family homes. They moved into model neighborhoods just outside the city.
Also in these neighborhoods were state-built low income homes. Pressure from interest groups ended housing based on income but features like sand-colored brick, smaller plots, had cemented class difference. To this day sand colored brick is associated with limited income housing
LIG housing is not to be confused with housing provisions for those who lived in shanties just outside the city. Shanty dwellers were singled out and given even smaller homes in neighborhoods that included Jleeb and Jahra
These residential planning principles quickly became out of step and had not taken the rapid population increase, of which over half were non-Kuwaitis, who were restricted from participating in state housing, had no access to housing loans and denied the right to own land.
The private sector quickly filled in this market gap with rental accommodation for non-Kuwaitis in neighborhoods that had a higher residential density. Low maintenance and apartment subdivisions contributed to substandard living. Some of these neighborhoods are now quarantined.
These demographic & socioeconomic divisions reflected in neighborhoods & housing models reinforced biases that are boiling over today. Housing is both social and political if we ignore either dimension we will continue this unsustainable cycle & build more inequitable communities
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