Industrial spaces, real estate development, and housing rights [Enikő Vincze]

Housing is a complex phenomenon produced at the intersection of social and economic policies, but both in academia and in politics, it is conceptualized and debated as a rights issue or an economic matter of production/consumption/investment. In this paper, I discuss the historically shifting connections between these two dimensions while also relating the production and distribution of housing to alternating industrial relations.

I am writing this piece of analysis in Cluj-Napoca, a city that, in the past seven years, has become the most expensive locality in Romania from the point of view of the housing market. In the past three decades, changes to the political economy were built across the whole country on the “creative destruction” (Harvey, 1982) of state socialism, including its economic and housing regime. Therefore, in the first two sections of the article, I will address housing as a right and housing as an economic matter in the context of these transformations. In a third step, I will demonstrate that the transformation of former industrial platforms into assets and sites for new real estate development contributed to forming a new housing regime that prioritizes the interests of capital accumulation and neglects housing rights. Most importantly, in this article I will argue that after three decades of capitalist transformations in Romania when housing became accessible predominantly through the market, there is a political imperative to prioritize housing as a social need and human right, and subordinate the concerns of capital accumulation to this perspective.

The article was published in Romanian and English in Transeuropa Journal,