Bernhard Gugg (2019)


Municipal housing policies for newcomers in Greece : a multi-level perspective on Thessalonikis REACT Program


Access to adequate housing is a fundamental prerequisite for a good and self-determined life. A country’s housing policy is co-determined by several policy levels. International and European documents provide a framework that defines adequate housing and enshrines it as a right. The concrete design of housing policy, however, lies within the competence of the nation states. In this thesis, urban housing policies are examined against the background of the increasingly important role of cities.

This paper deals with the development of urban housing policy in Thessaloniki, Greece since 2015, the year of increased transnational migration. The urban programme REACT (Refugee Assistance Collaboration Thessaloniki) was launched to provide adequate housing for refugee newcomers moving to other EU countries within the framework of the Relocation Programme of the European Union. Though often newcomers remained in Greece for various reasons, and some may  end up living in camps, sometimes under inhumane and socially isolated conditions.
REACT is a housing programme co-initiated by municipalities in the Thessaloniki region. It focuses on organising housing for refugee families. However, the programme is also interesting from a housing policy point of view. The only Greek organisation for the construction of social housing (OEK) has been closed since Greece’s financial and debt crises. The housing market is characterised by high rates of ownership versus rentals, little new construction and vacancy. Against this background, the establishment of REACT leads to the conclusion that the municipal level might already represent a new way of implementing housing policy.

As a model for a new municipal housing policy, however, REACT differs from the programmes in place other European cities (e.g. Barcelona) in its less participatory approach. Furthermore, the question of sustainability arises, because, despite institutionalization efforts, as well as regional cooperation and a consolidation or transformation of old governance structures, the question remains as to whether REACT can provide long-term guidance for a restructuring of Greek’s housing system.

Submitted   an der Fakultät für Architektur und Raumplanung
Supervision   Dr. phil. DI (FH) Sabine Knierbein