Beijing: Role of Private Sector and Privatization
The history of privatization in Beijing is somewhat recent, as the city entered the sphere of the market economy at the end of the twentieth century (Yang et al. 522). The market-oriented housing reform significantly affected the place of public housing in the country. According to Walder and He, privatization of property gave many citizens an opportunity to purchase their public housing at a significantly reduced price, which in turn created a disparity between people of different socio-economic statuses (97).
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While persons with high incomes were able to afford large and comfortable occupations at a low price, individuals with lower salaries had a limited number of housing options. The authors argue that this difference in opportunities exacerbated the inequality of different socio-economic classes. Thus, public housing was affected as a result.
Beijing, with its rapidly growing population and an increasing number of immigrants, had to create a system that would accommodate new and old residents of the city. Before 2009, Beijing had a strict policy for immigrants and their access to public housing (Zhou and Ronald 265).
However, even after the restriction for newcomers was lifted, the city continued to limit access to public housing for immigrants whose level of education did not meet the standards of the city’s administration. Access to the private sector was and is structured in the same way, with some regulations that maintain the significance of financial and professional achievements. The authors state that Beijing can be considered an example of a city with a high degree of market involvement (Zhou and Ronald 267). Therefore, the role of privatization is high in the city.
It is possible to assume that the sphere of public and private housing in China is moving towards a hybrid system, where the market economy is joined by public housing initiatives. However, Beijing, in particular, is an example of a city where a market-focused economy brought changes to public housing. Privatization of property highlighted the advantages of higher socio-economic status as professional households were able to afford to privatize their homes at a reduced price. Thus, the public sphere of housing shifted from serving all classes to mostly accommodating the needs of high-skilled migrants and persons with lower incomes.
The process of privatization highlighted the inequality of affordability for Beijing residents. The idea of public housing remains an integral part of the city’s view of the future as opposed to New York, which view of public housing is vastly different from Beijing’s.
New York: Role of Private Sector and Privatization
In contrast to Beijing, public housing in the US is mostly associated with people with the lowest incomes. The focus on private property and the private sector overall is based on the political and economic views of the country’s government. Thus, the place of public housing in the city is also different. According to Wolch and Dear, public housing in the US is incredibly limited, as it is usually seen as a way to accommodate the needs of individuals who live below the poverty line (223).
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The stigmatization of public housing is also affected by the private sector. The issue of affordability limits one’s access to purchasing private property. Furthermore, the city’s structure does not allow many citizens to live in public housing. Many scholars argue that the area of public housing is failing in such cities as New York because of the way private businesses treat this system.
The combination of private and public services is a common occurrence in the US. Public-private arrangements define the sector of housing, limiting access to public property for citizens with low incomes. Pierre states that federal funding alone cannot cover the costs needed to sustain public housing, and companies are often asked to assist with the process of creation of all public occupations (63). Thus, the administration of the city may be less inclined to maintain their public housing and prioritize privatization as a way to ensure that citizens can afford their property. This choice creates a situation of inequality, which puts people with low incomes in a challenging position, where they cannot afford to purchase the property from a private sector and do not have access to public housing, which is becoming more and more limited.
The issue of government is unable to support public housing without the help of the private sector shapes the way the city views the need for affordable housing. Moreover, people’s perception of public housing is also different because of that concern. According to Newman, researchers believe that people who can buy their property or move to a purchased house or apartment are more likely to receive a better education than individuals who are forced to stay in public housing. Therefore, the role of privatization affects public housing in many ways, as it creates a negative perception of the property that is owned by the government.
In the previous decades, the vision of public housing becoming an affordable option for citizens of various socio-economic classes as possible. The role of the private sector, however, limited the availability of affordable housing with the idea that it was going to affect the state of the market negatively. Current prognoses state that this sector faces serious problems and may not change people’s beliefs that public housing is only fit for the most impoverished citizens.
Comparison and Conclusion
Beijing and New York have many similar characteristics – they are large, popular among immigrants, and filled with prosperous businesses and organizations. These aspects of the two cities raise the need for affordable housing for the people who live in the city or move to it for a short or long time. However, the courses of actions taken by the cities’ administrations are vastly different from one another (see table 1). In Beijing, the focus on affordable public housing is seen in the efforts of the city to create more space for people of different incomes. The issue of privatization, while affecting the state of public housing, does not diminish its significance to the city’s structure.
Table 1. Comparison of Beijing and New York’s Public Housing.
|Availability of public housing||All socio-economic groups of local citizens, some restrictions for immigrants.||Low-income individuals and families, immigrants.|
|View of public housing||Neutral, public housing can accommodate different needs.||Negative, public housing if for people who cannot afford anything else.|
|Funding||Comes from the government.||Combination of public and private funding.|
|Main focus||Affordable housing for the growing population, the attraction of high-skilled immigrants.||Affordable housing for persons with the lowest income. Public housing is viewed as a threat to the market.|
The private sector of the US has a much more significant influence on the government in comparison to the one in Beijing. Private-public collaborations are a result of insufficient funding of the US government. Thus, the role of the private sector in New York is much more significant to public housing. While Beijing tries to balance the two spheres and does not stigmatize public housing to be the occupation of the poorest residents, New York struggles to offer affordable public housing to its diverse residents and places the responsibility on the individuals and the market.
Newman, Caroline. “An Economist Shaping the Future of Public Housing.” UVA Today. 2016. Web.
Pierre, Jon, editor. Partnerships in Urban Governance: European and American Experiences. Springer, 2016.
Walder, Andrew G., and Xiaobin He. “Public Housing into Private Assets: Wealth Creation in Urban China.” Social Science Research, vol. 46, 2014, pp. 85-99.
Wolch, Jennifer, and Michael Dear, editors. The Power of Geography (RLE Social & Cultural Geography): How Territory Shapes Social Life. Routledge, 2014.
Yang, Zan, et al. “Affordability of Housing and Accessibility of Public Services: Evaluation of Housing Programs in Beijing.” Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, vol. 29, no. 3, 2014, pp. 521-540.
Zhou, Jing, and Richard Ronald. “Housing and Welfare Regimes: Examining the Changing Role of Public Housing in China.” Housing, Theory and Society, vol. 34, no. 3, 2017, pp. 253-276.