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Intersections between housing affordability and meanings of home: A review

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Kōtuitui, 18(1), 27-44

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This paper examines the critical intersections between housing affordability and the concept of home, highlighting the evolving challenges in the housing sector over the past three decades, characterised by rising housing costs, diminishing home ownership rates, and escalating rental burdens.

It advocates for a broader understanding of housing unaffordability by integrating economic measures with the nuanced meanings of home, encompassing cultural, symbolic, and social dimensions. By examining the Aotearoa New Zealand context, the paper specifically acknowledges the unique Māori perspectives on home, emphasising the need to consider diverse cultural norms and values in housing research. The narrative review methodologically synthesises existing literature on housing affordability and the essence of home, utilising international and New Zealand-specific studies to argue that current affordability metrics, while crucial, fail to capture the comprehensive impacts of unaffordability on homemaking processes and lived experiences. It critiques the dominant financialisation of housing, which prioritises market solutions and overlooks the broader social implications of housing as a space of security, identity, and community. Furthermore, the paper explores the tension between individuals’ aspirations for home ownership and the reality of achieving such goals in an increasingly unaffordable housing market. It suggests that examining the aspirations gap and the lived experiences of renters could offer deeper insights into the social and emotional impacts of housing unaffordability. By proposing a research agenda that considers the intersections between affordability and the meaning of home, the paper aims to reframe the issue of housing unaffordability, advocating for a more holistic approach that recognises the importance of homemaking in discussions of housing policy and research. This approach calls for a re-evaluation of how housing policies are formulated, suggesting that understanding the full spectrum of housing experiences could lead to more effective solutions to the housing affordability crisis. This review underscores the necessity of bridging the gap between economic assessments of housing affordability and the multifaceted concept of home, highlighting the potential for such interdisciplinary research to inform policies that address both the material and existential dimensions of housing unaffordability.

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