COP Housing and Equitable Cities

Members of the COP Housing and Equitable Cities are currently involved in the following projects:

  1. City Occupied: The City Occupied project explores land and building occupations in São Paulo, Cape Town, and Bogotá, calling attention to relationships between housing movements, occupiers, and municipalities. The team has generated various outputs, including a ‘zine’ focused on the residents of the Cissie Gool House occupation in Cape Town, and a documentary comparing three occupations across Cape Town, Sao Paulo, and Bogota. Additional reports and popular outputs on occupations in the inner-city of Cape Town will be launched in the course of 2023. In Cape Town, we are also actively engaged in the co-design process led by residents, movement leaders (Reclaim the City), and practitioners (Ndifuna Ukwazi), which aims to engage public and private stakeholders in efforts to obtain tenure security and transform the building into inclusive, affordable and adequate accommodation. In Bogota, we are engaged in the development and implementation of community indicators for the community of Altos de la Estancia. Other recent activities included the organisation of a panel of “Housing as commons: sites of struggle and possibility” at the EADI General conference in Lisbon in July 2023, where team members presented on their city occupied project, and conducted a site visit to informal neighbourhoods and social housing complex in the greater Lisbon area. For further details refer to
  2. Social and Affordable Housing: Well-located social and affordable housing offers considerable opportunities to make South African cities more inclusive and equitable. Team members in collaboration with government officials, practitioners (Development Action Group, Ndifuna Ukwazi) and technical experts are researching the barriers and ways of fast-tracking the release of municipal land for social and affordable housing in the Cities of Cape Town, Tshwane, Johannesburg and eThekwini. Recent activities included the finalisation of research reports and development of popular outputs, which will be launched in the course of 2023.
  3. Small-scale rental housing (SSRH): SSRH is accommodation for rental that includes a single room, a full dwelling or two to three storey walkups provided on an existing dwelling by individual owners or small to medium enterprises. SSRH is an unusually vibrant township activity driven by people’s own enterprise, ingenuity and investment, but its informal and unauthorised character poses health and safety risks and can place immense strain on basic infrastructure, community facilities, and social cohesion. Through years of research, practice, policy engagement and strategic partnering, team members have contributed to capacity building, awareness raising and a turnaround in public policy towards the sector. Recent activities included the co-organisation of a National Symposium on SSRH as part of National Treasury’s Cities Support Programmes, which resulted in a short summary report and a forthcoming policy brief. For further information see
  4. Housing as Economic Policy: This project aims to bring housing scholars/practitioners and progressive economists together in a constructive dialogue to interrogate the role of housing in South Africa’s economy and how it could help to address the country’s biggest economic challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality. At the heart of this endeavour are public dialogues where state-of-the art knowledge and evidence will be discussed. The first dialogue took place on 5th April 2023 and focused on the causes, consequences and strategies to contain the ‘construction mafia’. For further information see:
  5. Urban vacancy, occupations and commoning: Team members are leading an Urban Studies Foundation Seminar Series on urban vacancy, occupations and commoning. The dynamic relationship between vacancy, occupations and commoning is explored across Northern and Southern geographies, focusing on a) learning from embedded discussions involving academics, occupiers and social movements, b) developing a global comparative urban approach, c) training early career researchers to develop grounded and international collaborations. Recent activities included the organisation of a hybrid workshop and a site visit to a collective housing project in the City of Vienna. For further information see

In addition to the above, team members are engaged in writing up research findings into co-authored articles for peer-reviewed, accredited journals and/or as chapters for books.