The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Tales from Many Cities: A collection of housing stories published as part of DPU module

29 June 2022

These housing stories have resulted in a mini-series of blogs revealing the complex ways in which personal and political aspects of shelter provision interweave over time, and impact on multiple aspects of people’s lives.

Buenos Aires slum street woman pushing buggy

Leading their readers from the chawls of Mumbai, via the orchards of Beirut, to a house on the banks of the Riachuelo in Buenos Aires, for more than a decade now, master’s students from the across the DPU’s seven MSc programmes have been collectively constructing a living archive of global housing stories.

Tasked with developing the housing story of an individual or the housing stories of a particular house, this assessed component from the module ‘Housing Policy: Practical Dimensions and Alternative Options (DEVP0009)’ simultaneously poses and responds to the question: What can we learn about the design and impact of housing policy and practice approaches from the stories of those inhabiting them?

With a focus on identifying those personal and political factors which conspire to open or close opportunities for individuals to attain housing security for themselves and their families, these stories shine new light on the gaps that can emerge between policy rhetoric and housing realities. In that sense, they provide a novel means to both evaluate the efficacy and reach of existing housing policies as well as to identify critical points for future intervention.

At a time when housing policy too often takes the form of storytelling from above, the rendering of such stories from below provides a crucial reminder of the human consequences of bureaucratic and political decision-making in the terrain of housing.

Curated by module tutors Tim Wickson and Ruth McLeod, this mini-series presents stories from Nigeria, Peru, Israel, India, Lebanon, Japan and Argentina, all of which are shared here with the kind permission of both the author and their key protagonists.

View the housing stories page