The Economic Crisis as Opportunity: How Austerity Generates New Strategies and Solidarities for Negotiating Roma Access to Housing in Rome

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The paper investigates how the economic crisis and austerity politics affect the strategies of pro-Roma non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and movements that fight for Roma access to housing in Rome. In the last 20 years, the main social housing policy for the Roma adopted by the City of Rome consisted of the so-called ‘equipped villages’, that is, equipped areas with Portakabins and basic facilities. Designed as a temporary housing solution to accommodate the Roma population living in the slums of the Italian capital, these villages nonetheless persist, hosting an increasing number of Roma evicted from informal settlements. As a result, these villages are now harshly criticised for being highly segregating, for being overcrowded with worsening sanitary conditions and for not enabling integration. Furthermore, the recent economic recession and austerity politics are putting a strain on Roma integration policies. The increase of social tensions and unrest, the rise of populist parties and of anti-immigration (and anti-Roma) attitudes do not facilitate the inclusion of the Roma minority, in Italy as in other European countries. What effects are these dynamics having on the capacity of pro-Roma associations arguing against the segregation of the equipped villages and for the development of alternative social housing for the Roma? Although it may seem that the crisis has mainly negative effects on the possibility of insisting on Roma integration, the pro-Roma NGOs and movements considered in this paper show how post-crisis austerity can be mobilised as a new resource for action. The paper focuses on two strategies using the crisis as a frame and base for contesting the segregation of the Roma: the first is to highlight the costs of segregation and the second is to mobilise a new form of solidarity based on the housing crisis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)808-823
JournalCity: analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2014

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© 2014 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any
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