Weekly Urban News Update
February 15, 2019
In This Update: 
Rebuilding Libyan Cities After the Civil War
In India, Flood-Prone Surat Plans for Disaster Resilience
Department of Housing and Urban Development Struggles After the Shutdown
Roma in Bulgaria Disproportionately Face Evictions and Housing Demolitions
Co-Living Spaces Seek to Replace Coffin Apartments in Hong Kong
Historic Preservation and the New Data Landscape 
In the News and Around the Web
Urban Resilience

Rebuilding Libyan Cities After the Civil War
A newly published Brookings Institution report makes the case for a city-based strategy to rebuild Libya eight years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi.  The scholars propose that reinvigorated American policy in Libya administer payment installments to municipal and local leadership. According to the report's authors, this makes sense because Libyan political, social, and economic traditions have been historically oriented around cities, rather than a strong, central capital.  In the aftermath of the 2011 Libyan Civil War, national-level institutions remain weak, in part because Libya is "too atomized to be run by a strong central government." A decentralized form of monetary distribution between Libyan cities can lead to more effective development strategies. Rather than competing with each other for national resources, this enables cities to focus on improving education, health, security, and water and sanitation. 

Read more here

In India, Flood-Prone Surat Plans for Disaster Resilience
Over the past ten years population growth and geographical expansion in Surat, India have rendered it more t o devastating and costly flooding. For municipal leaders, this means that Surat must accept the inevitability of future flooding and plan accordingly.  Its proximity to the Tapi and Ukai dam, the Arabian Sea, and its 19 miles of city creeks has created a triple threat for Surat. New technological innovations under India's Smart Cities Initiatives, such as an early warning system. have helped. Deputy Municipal Commissioner Chaitany Bhat reports that the system has successfully diminished the impact of natural disaster. In 2013, the government was able to deplete the dam before major rainfall was expected and prevent flooding that may have occurred otherwise.

Read more here:
Housing

Department of Housing and Urban Development Struggles After the Shutdown
The U.S. federal government shutdown may have ended, but its repercussions remain serious at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, reports ProPublica. While other federal organizations have returned to normal activity,   HUD is struggling to recover from the shutdown. In early January, the   government contract to run HUD's online public records system expired and has yet to be renewed. This means members of the public can no longer submit or track requests on the Department's website.  Austin Evers, Executive Director of American Oversight says: "We knew the government was going to go dark during the shutdown, but we did not anticipate that the machinery would literally be removed while it was shutdown."

Read more here.

Roma in Bulgaria Disproportionately Face Evictions and Housing Demolitions
Housing demolitions in the past several years have disproportionately affected the Roma in Bulgaria, despite the fact they comprise a small percentage of the population. In 2012, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Bulgarian evictions and housing demolitions of their Roma population violated one's "right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." Yet, Thomas Reuters reports that Bulgarian authorities have repeatedly ignored the ECHR judgment that they "cannot evict people on an arbitrary basis leaving them without any shelter."  According to Equal Opportunities Initiative Association lawyer Daniele Mihaylova, data has shown a correlation between elections and the number of demolitions carried out, suggesting that right-wing nationalist parties were using anti-Roma sentiment to garner votes.

Read more here.

Co-Living Spaces Seek to Replace Coffin Apartments in Hong Kong
High property value in Hong Kong means that while the wealthier demographic enjoy "luxurious" housing, a significant segment of the population resides in "urban slums." These spaces colloquially called "coffin apartments" are s ometimes so small that residents are unable to stretch out their legs fully. This situation has inspired the construction of "co-living spaces"  in which dormitory-style bunk beds are private areas, but every other part is communal. Personalization has been key to their success. Architect Addie Cheng explains: "Each floor is designed to encapsulate a different theme, ranging from design and cooking, movies, fashion to sports, and is reflected in the library of books on display." Similarly, M3 International Youth Community Living explains: "Staff are on hand to help residents and the company hopes to encourage the building of meaningful relationships."

Read more here.
New Research in Urban Studies

Historic Preservation and the New Data Landscape
IHC Global Senior Technical Advisor Eduardo Rojas contributed to the newly published volume Preservation and the New Data Landscape, edited by Erica Avrami. The book is the first volume in a new series - Issues in Preservation Policy - that will examine the ways in which enhancing the collection, accuracy, and management of data can serve a critical role in identifying vulnerable neighborhoods, understanding the role of older buildings in economic vitality and community resilience, planning sustainable growth, and more. Rojas's chapter will discuss aspects of his current research on the governance of the preservation of urban heritage areas. A free edition will be made available online in the coming weeks.

Find the volume here.
In the News and Around the Web
  • Switzerland Votes on Urban Sprawl : Swiss voters reject a plan to curb urban sprawl.
  • Can Flint Be Fixed?: Three years after the Flint water crisis, Flint, Michigan remains plagued by poverty, violence, and poor municipal services.
  • Stacking Up New York Public Transportation Internationally: New York Times readers compare New York public transportation to public transportation abroad.
The "coffin homes" of Hong Kong
(Photo cred: MSN )

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