Weekly Urban News Update
October 25, 2019
In This Update: 
Berlin Plan to Freeze Housing Rents for Five Years Sees Mixed Reactions in Other German Cities
Why a Chinese Development in Johannesburg Failed
Penang Fisherman Petition UN-Habitat to Oppose Malaysian Reclamation Project
Proposal to Increase Metro Fare in Santiago Sparks Widespread Protests
Indian Women Press for More Safety Mechanisms in Urban Spaces
Mobile App will Increase Citizen-to-Government Engagement in Latin American Cities
University of Chicago Online Database Will Map Slums Worldwide
IHC Global Spotlight Event: World Cities Day
IHC Global Spotlight Event: Community Screening of PUSH the Film
In the News and Around the Web
Berlin Plan to Freeze Housing Rents for Five Years Sees Mixed Reviews 
In the city of Berlin, a city government-stipulated five-year freeze on housing rents highlights a stark divide in approaches to making housing affordable in Germany. In Berlin, rents have doubled over the past decade, leading to popular demands for affordable housing, widespread protests, and a push from some for the government to expropriate properties from wealth landlords. The idea of a rent freeze has gained salience in other German cities, including Munich which is pushing forward a plan for a six-year freeze. But, other cities see a freeze as an unsustainable approach to the creation of affordable housing. Rather than focus on capping rent, they seek to encourage building. According to Hamburg Mayor Peter Tschentscher, the only way to "avoid further rent increases is to build enough properties to keep pace with demand. Enforced sales and rent freezes will only deter investors."

Read more here.
Why a Chinese Development in Johannesburg Failed
In Johannesburg, South Africa, a proposed Chinese development failed after the developers refused to include affordable housing in their plans. Shanghai-based Zendai development firm applied to build a new city on the periphery of Johannesburg that would include luxury high-end housing, offices, rail station and entertainment district. The city of Johannesburg, under Mayor Parks Tau, insisted that the new city must include 5,000 units of affordable housing and denied permission for Zendai to build after it refused. For supporters of the Shanghai-based Zendai Group, the plan for an "African Manhattan," would serve as a resolution to many of the urban challenges facing Johannesburg. But, opponents said the language and goals of Zendai contrasted the city's long-term goals to become more inclusive for all its residents. The dispute comes during a time of increased scrutiny of Chinese investment into African cities and infrastructure across the continent .

Read more here.
Penang Fisherman Petition UN-Habitat to Oppose Penang Reclamation Project
The Penang Fisherman's Association in Malaysia has petitioned UN-Habitat to oppose a government-planned "Penang Southern Reclamation Project. The Malaysian government hopes to create three artificial islands off the country's southern coast to add new land and generate revenue for mainland infrastructure projects. The government says it conducted a social assessment impact study of the project, but the fisherman say that even though their livelihood will be the most effected by the reclamation, they were never contacted for the impact study. In their petition to UN-Habitat, the fisherman assert the project will violate UN Sustainable Development Goals 2, 8, 10, 11, and 14 as it will respectively jeopardize food security, cause unemployment, increase the gap between rich and poor, result in the development of unaffordable housing units, and violate underwater life.

Read more here.
Proposal to Increase Metro Fare in Santiago Sparks Widespread Protests
Ongoing widespread anti-government protests in Santiago, Chile began with a government proposal to increase metro and bus fares. After the announcement, high school students began to jump train turnstiles, vandalize barriers, and pull emergency brakes on the train, effecting the more than 2.5 million daily commuters. The reaction to the hike in metro prices speaks to broader grievances against the government with conditions of urban decay in Santiago. The New York Times editorial board writes that on the one hand, Santiago's "prosperity is undeniable," with wealthy sections of the city nicknamed "Sanhattan," after Manhattan in New York City. Yet, on the other, "poverty is striking," as shantytowns, crumbling hospitals, and overcrowded schools exist side by side with Sanhattan.

Read more  here .
Indian Women Press for More Safety Mechanisms in Urban Spaces
At National Geographic, Nilanjana Bhowmick praises the grassroots efforts of ordinary Indian women to improve safety in their cities. In 2012, a brutal assault of a woman on a Mumbai bus leading to her death, sparked outrage both within India and the international community. Bhowmick says that since then, women in India have pressed for more protection from harassment and abuse in public spaces. India is currently ranked the fourth most dangerous place for women in the world, behind Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Their pressure, in combination with government investment, has produced a number of significant city initiatives such as the "Pink Police," a police force made of women to help respond to incidents of harassment and assault, women's only transportation services, and freely-available self-defense programs for women.

Read more  here .
Mobile App Will Increase Citizen-to-Government Engagement in Latin American Cities
UN-Habitat and start-up companies Colab in Brazil and OS City in Mexico, announced the creation of a new citizen consultation service to improve government services in Latin American cities in Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. The "Sustainable Cities and Communities Consultation," tool is a mobile app that serves as citizen to-government engagement platform. It allows citizens to report on what they believe to be the most pressing issues for urban improvement in their cities. UN-Habitat hopes the app will help city policymakers make decisions that are more responsive to the challenges of urbanization and that better reflect the needs and perceptions of city residents. Participating cities are Chimbote, Trujillo, Barranco, and Miraflores in Peru, Tarija and La Paz in Bolivia, and cities in Brazil nationwide.

Read more here
University of Chicago Online Database will Map Slums Worldwide
The University of Chicago introduced its "Million Neighborhoods," project to map slums across the world, beginning with African cities. "Million Neighborhoods" is an open-source database that will allow anyone to upload road and building locations to unmapped places. Even the best-intentioned slum upgrading programs may be ineffective when maps of informal settlements are inaccurate or lack key information. University of Chicago Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation and UN-Habitat says the platform will help better city planning by providing mayors with more information on which areas and infrastructure needs the most help. The Mansueto Institute also emphasizes the importance of empowering city residents to have a say in urban planning. Director Luis Bettencourt explains: "The idea is that we will work with people on the ground in cities towards making plans that they think are appropriate.

Read more here
IHC Global Spotlight Event
World Cities Day: Better Cities, Better Lives through Frontier Technology

Monday, November 4th
1900 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20006

IHC Global and Dentons Smart Cities and Communities Editorial Board invite you to join us for a brown bag lunch panel in celebration of the United Nations World Cities Day! We will explore the potential of frontier technologies to make cities better for all. For more information, contact ngill@ihcglobal.org
IHC Global Spotlight Event: 
PUSH the Film

Tuesday, November 5th
The Potter's House
1658 Columbia Road, NW, Washington, DC 2009

IHC Global and The Global Land Alliance invite you to a special community screening of "PUSH," the film.  PUSH is a new documentayr investingating the housing crisis and why having a home is becoming more and more difficult.  Watch the film trailer here.
RSVP here or by emailing  ngill@ihcglobal.org
In the News and Around the Web
  • South African Cities Week: The Guardian Cities dives into urban challenges facing South Africa.
  • London Efforts Lower Air Pollution: Air pollution has fallen by a third in London's ultra low emission zones.
Protests in Santiago began with a student protest against increased metro fares.
(Photo Credit: PABLO VERA/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES/ Foreign Policy)

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