Special Issue : Housing as a Nexus of Unaffordability, Illegality and Livability

Yung YAU (Guest Editor)

Research output: Other PublicationsSpecial issue (Editor)


Providing affordable housing for its residents has long been a challenge for many cities in both the Global South and Global North. The imbalance between supply and demand of affordable housing triggers the proliferation of substandard or even illegal housing in many cases. While the extant literature on this aspect has focused mainly on informal settlements built on government land (such as slums and squatter areas) and urban enclaves (such as urban villages), little attention has been paid to unlawful extensions or alterations of existing housing stock. In many cities such as Hong Kong, Guangzhou, London and Melbourne, existing houses or apartment units are subdivided in an illegal or unauthorized manner and leased out to low-income earners. Addressing this informal housing crisis will require research that illustrates the scope of the problem. The questions of how the informal housing sector swells in these places and how safe and decent accommodation can be provided to the disadvantaged must be investigated. This Special Issue calls for papers that can address any of the following questions:

How does the problem of housing illegality evolve?
How do we predict who the residents in the illegal housing sector will be?
Why do institutions fail to cope with the problems of housing illegality?
How is illegal housing configured spatially?
How do informal settlements or illegal housing shape the quality of life of the residents?
Does housing illegality contribute to threats to public health, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic? If yes, in what ways?
Are there any socially innovative solutions to this informal housing crisis?
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationBuildings
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

A special issue of Buildings (ISSN 2075-5309). This special issue belongs to the section "Architectural Design, Urban Science, and Real Estate".


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