Smart Housing Policy= True Immigrant Integration


It is a fact of life.  As long as there is violence, floods, famines and a lack of opportunity, we will experience refugee outflows around the world.  I personally experience the refugee crisis in Germany and Austria when my train was stopped because thousands of refugees had congregated at the border.  The absolute horror of having to leave your homeland and face uncertainty should make it clear how bad the home situation must have been.  As migration patterns continue to evolve and develop, it is clear that cities are going to bear the majority of these newcomers.

Cities are places where there are more opportunities, access to language learning, access to developed infrastructures and systems that make sense.  An article on the website Citylab recently brought out that:

It’s an important truth: Local authorities are critical to addressing the needs of the displaced. Today, roughly 60 percent of the world’s 22 million refugees reside in cities rather than in camps, according to UNHCR. Internally displaced people also tend to make their way to urban areas.

Smart Housing Policy Means Integration:

City planners and housing experts must work with international leaders on immigration to plan their cities in ways that can evolve and handle refugee movement in the future.  We will need to see housing that not only can handle the needs of refugees but place them in places where they can be successful.  Think about New York in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Immigrants from Europe would end up in poorer neighboorhoods in the city but they were well integrated and dense.  I do not mean integrated in the sense of racially but in the sense that people moved through these areas from all income bands.  This allowed small businesses to develop and relationships and educational bonds to be formed.  The second generation often did better then the first generation arrivers.

Fast forward to today suburbia.  If housing experts think that building massive housing blocks on the outskirts of a city will help the dilemma of migration, they are drastically mistaken.  Geographic isolation and lack of opportunities to meet other people and mingle with other races, classes and cultures do nothing but cut off opportunity.  Instead of second and third generation upward mobility, we will see stagnant or little mobility.  The lack of opportunity and educational wastelands that can take place can kill the entire idea of integration.  If immigrants and refugees are housed with other immigrants and refugees and do not have the ability or access to the culture and language of their new homeland, it is a recipe for disaster and distrust.


We need to ensure that housing policy in cities across the world embrace the challenges that will come with migration.  This trend will not slow down and continued globalization will come at us all like a rocket.

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