Migrants’ Access to the Rental Housing Market in Germany: Housing Providers and Allocation Policies

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Hanhörster , H & Ramos Lobato , I 2021 , ' Migrants’ Access to the Rental Housing Market in Germany: Housing Providers and Allocation Policies ' , Urban Planning , vol. 6 , no. 2 , pp. 7–18 . https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v6i2.3802

Title: Migrants’ Access to the Rental Housing Market in Germany: Housing Providers and Allocation Policies
Author: Hanhörster, Heike; Ramos Lobato, Isabel
Contributor organization: Department of Geosciences and Geography
Helsinki Institute of Urban and Regional Studies (Urbaria)
Date: 2021-04-27
Language: eng
Number of pages: 12
Belongs to series: Urban Planning
ISSN: 2183-7635
DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v6i2.3802
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/330755
Abstract: Housing markets play a decisive role in the spatial distribution of populations and the integration of immigrants. Looking specifically at Germany, shortages of low-rent housing in many cities are proving to be an open door for discrimination. This article looks at the influence institutional housing providers have on migrants’ access to housing. Based on 76 qualitative interviews with housing experts, politicians, local government officials, civil society and academics, the internal routines of housing companies are examined for the first time in a German context, looking at what effect they have on producing socio-spatial inequality. Using Lipsky’s (1980) ‘street-level bureaucracy’ as our conceptual framework, we argue that the barriers denying migrants access to the rental housing market are attributable to two factors: the organisational culture, whether in the form of official guidelines (’policy as written’) or in day-to-day activities in the front-line context (‘policy as performed’) – as well as in the huge gap between the two. Corporate policies, the resultant allocation policies, staff training and housing company involvement in local governance structures play a decisive role in determining migrants’ access to housing. The goal of achieving the right social mix and the lacking guidelines accorded to housing company staff in deciding who gets an apartment – turning their discretionary power into a certain kind of ‘forced discretion’ – in many cases arbitrarily restrict access to housing in Germany. Theoretically embedding these findings in organisational sociology, the article adds to urban geographical and sociological research into the drivers and backgrounds of residential segregation.
Subject: 519 Social and economic geography
allocation policies
diversity policies
housing market
institutional housing providers
migration-led institutional change
social mix
street-level bureaucracy
Peer reviewed: Yes
Rights: cc_by
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: publishedVersion

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