The potential of collaborative housing to tackle the social deficit of housing

The Chilean case

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In recent decades, various programs have been developed as part of Chile’s housing policies to respond to the housing deficit. Most policies have so far focused on addressing the quantitative, qualitative, and urban deficits, neglecting the social dimension of housing. At the same time, the concept of collaborative housing has been referred to as a possible alternative to respond to these social challenges by fostering social cohesion, collaboration, and mutual aid. This article explores how collaborative housing can tackle the social deficit of housing. Here, we conceptualise this deficit as ‘the lack of non-physical or intangible social characteristics given among residents of a project, such as trust, social cohesion, and a sense of community, necessary for housing to be considered adequate.’ We examined the relation between these two concepts by developing a theoretical and empirical study. The first consisted of a theoretical framework and a review of literature on collaborative housing’s response to the social deficit of housing. Second, we interviewed stakeholders from two study cases. We found that residents in both collaborative housing cases perceive an improvement in their social interactions, sociability, trust, and sense of community in their current homes compared to previous homes. Therefore, we conclude that collaborative housing presents opportunities to tackle the social deficit of housing.