Location and the 'success' of a city are determining factors. In other words, the economic health of a municipality has a strong influence on the opportunities for its inhabitants. And whichever way you look at it, the government has a determining role in this; both central and local.
The role of the government in the Netherlands is broad. And because the government is involved in many subjects at different levels and often has (final) responsibility, situations often become complex and decision-making turns out to be a challenge. In Jordan, the Al Za'atari refugee camp seems to be at the other extreme. A camp that was set up in 2012 as a temporary solution, but where the daily life of more than 80,000 people is becoming increasingly permanent. Due to the absence of any form of government, important basic facilities such as water and electricity, structural education, waste management and infrastructure, as well as police to combat crime and insurrection, are missing. Maintaining the temporary character and not investing in the basic facilities by governments results in companies not wanting to settle there. And with it the lack of tax revenue and economic context. A hopeless situation with zero social mobility and no prospects for the people in the camp.
On a completely different scale, we see an increase in polarization in the Netherlands. More than a million people live below the poverty line and there is a (growing) inequality in the areas of housing, job security and income. Due to limited social mobility, fewer and fewer people are able to withdraw from their living situation on their own. Missing or poorly organized basic facilities in a city or neighborhood have a (negative) impact on the socio-economic position of its inhabitants and their social mobility; it may offer living space, but no perspective. The layout of a city or neighborhood and its public space is an important element in this. It offers opportunities for its inhabitants to develop themselves.
In urban development, the spatial point of view goes hand in hand with the social and economic context. Where this is in balance, it offers young people opportunities for a job and housing, prosperity increases and the role of the municipality as a social safety net decreases. Where this is not the case, the opposite happens. The decentralization of our government has gone too far and has led to major economic and social disparities between regions, cities and neighborhoods. There is a need for national policy as a clear framework for local customization aimed at integral design of the city. The (local) government, in the collective interest, has the challenge of ensuring that balance. The role of the government, a diabolical dilemma, perhaps a suitable topic for the Christmas dinner.
Every month a column by Elsbeth Quispel is published on a topic related to the value of the city. In it she gives her vision on the social relevance of cities, urban development and therefore also real estate. This vision is based on internal research and dialogue with internal and external stakeholders, in close collaboration with consultants and analysts from our Real Estate Strategy & Innovation team.