Politecnico di Milano: The New Affordable Housing Observatory

The Affordable Housing Observatory for the Milan metropolitan area, which is sponsored by the housing cooperative Consorzio Cooperative Lavoratori (CCL) and Delta Ecopolis, has been established in partnership with the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies (DAStU) at the Politecnico di Milano.

The goal of the new observatory is to monitor affordability trends in the metropolitan city of Milan and draft a regular report which will be presented each spring, based on the coordinated research activity carried out by Massimo Bricocoli (professor of Urban Planning and Policies and Head of DAStU at the Politecnico di Milano) and by Marco Peverini (a temporary research fellow) in partnership with the Mapping and Urban Data Lab (MaudLab) and an international multidisciplinary committee.

Affordability means the level of accessibility to a home for the population, whether purchased or rented which is measured by comparing housing costs with available income, a ratio that has become difficult to sustain in Milan in recent years: suffice to say that house prices are estimated to have increased by 39% in 5 years and average rental costs have reached €240/m2 per year, compared with 60% of workers earning less than €26,000 per year an 35% less than €15,000.

What we refer to as ‘affordability’, that is the ratio of housing costs to economic capacity, has an impact on quality of life and the social and spatial justice of cities.

explains Massimo Bricocoli, professor of Urban Planning and Policies and Head of the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies of the Politecnico di Milano. He adds:

“The proportion of income spent on housing indicates how open and accessible a city is to new citizens, especially those with low and medium incomes. If the success of a city is measured by the increase in its property values, this is to the detriment of a vision in which a city is an open platform for personal growth and improvement. In Milan, it is not only the poor and young that struggle to find housing: the presence of qualified professionals in the job market contrasts with a growing difficulty in finding housing at an accessible cost and enjoying an acceptable level of quality of life. For this reason, as has also occurred in other growing European cities, it is important to gather data on housing expenses and incomes in order to establish the size of the problem publicly and support interventions and projects which are capable of making Milan more open and inclusive”.