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How Affordable Housing Design Strengthens Social Resilience

Urban resilience is the ability to efficiently adapt and change a city over time, as circumstances dictate. Urban resilience includes any number of types of resilience, such as economic, physical, social, and ecological resilience, to name a few. The concept of urban resilience is similar to the concept of urban sustainability but less static. A perfectly sustainable city is one where the three pillars of sustainability — equity, ecology, and economy — are in perfect balance, presumably forever. A resilient city, on the other hand, is one where the three pillars are largely in balance but continue to change in sometimes unexpected ways. Cities can and should be designed to be resilient in the face of profound changes such as the rural-to-urban migration, birth rate collapse, and vanishing middle class we will experience in the next four decades.

These transformations will, of course, occur in the context of the mother of all perturbations: climate change. By 2060 the world’s developed nations must reduce per capita production of greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80 percent. Absent success in this last goal, our other ambitions are probably moot. Most climate scientists agree that failure to reach this target paves the way for a global biosphere crash with cataclysmic economic and social consequences worldwide. In this book, we focus more on burgeoning social and economic shocks, particularly how economic inequality is largely manifested in the form of unaffordable housing.

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