Journal of Housing and the Built Environment vol:28 issue:1 pages:157-166
Gentrification has become part and parcel of urban policies throughout the world. Critics have argued against those policies but they have not yet developed concrete and comprehensive alternatives. This paper seeks to remedy this omission by investigating the Belgian ‘housing contract’ experiment (2005-2007). Quite exceptionally, Belgium’s ‘housing contract’ experiment was based on the premise that housing policies should improve the quality of life in deprived urban neighbourhoods, without displacing the poor. We investigate both the philosophy of the housing contract experiment as well as its effects. On the basis of this evaluation, we sketch the contours of a housing policy which incorporates rent gap theory and counters the negative effects arising from disinvestment and gentrification.