Housing renewal has been an important feature of housing policies in many European countries, especially since the Second World War. Along with demolition and new building, renewal is one of the three main elements in housing production, yet in recent years it has received less attention than it should in public policy. The ‘housing crisis’ is seldom seen as a crisis of housing renewal despite the fact that 30 million people or 6 per cent of the EU population in 2009 suffered from ‘severe housing deprivation’, with wide variations between countries around this figure. For those affected by bad housing conditions, ‘the market’ has not been effective in dealing with their problems. Previous cross-national literature on housing and urban renewal in northern and western Europe is reviewed. The book aims to bring this analysis up-to-date and to widen the discussion by including chapters on countries in central, eastern and southern Europe which have not featured in previous studies. The background to the book, the choice of countries, the nature and approach of the project, and relevant definitions are explained. A discussion of the contemporary challenge of housing renewal sets the scene for the remainder of the book; and the chapter ends with a summary of its structure and content.
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