Densification in consolidated informal settlements – Peter Ward, University of Texas

By on 12/03/2015

In this lecture Peter Ward from The University of Texas at Austin presents data drawn from a nine-country/eleven city collaborative study that examines self-built housing in old established low-income neighborhoods formed 25-40 years ago.

mp3 icon Rehabilitation & Densification in Consolidated Informal Settlements – Peter Ward


Peter Ward in thus lecture brings up the issues of:

1) How to address the often forgotten needs for in-situ rehabilitation of the physical structure and design after 30 years or more of intensive use?

2) In a context where Wills are rarely used, and/or forced heirship is the norm, how to manage the transfer and provision of clean title to second generation beneficiaries, as the parents pass away?

3) How to increase renting and non-owner housing opportunities in these settlements?

4), How to engage the community and neighborhood in rehab and renovation without displacement that often accompanies external urban regeneration projects. In short: how does one make room in the existing housing stock?

The lecture will present data drawn from a multi-country/city collaborative study to examine self-built housing in old established low-income neighborhoods. The location of many of these consolidated settlements makes them increasingly desirable locations sand a likely target for back-to-the-city densification and urban regeneration governmental policies. This threatens to generate pressures for displacement and to enhance gentrification. The challenge will be to ensure mixed-use and mixed income residential development associated with densification and infilling.

Propositions for addressing the issue:

  1. Consolidated self-help settlements that formed 30 years ago are rarely on the radar screens of policy makers, there is an urgent need to think about housing rehab within the context of the housing stock in the innerburbs.
  2. The sociology and household arrangements of these neighborhoods are poorly understood, including: the low mobility and turnover of ownership; the dynamics of physical dwelling expansion and consolidation; the succession by second generations as they inherit and continue to use the properties of their parents.
  3. The housing market in these innerburbs is dysfunctional because few owners wish or are able to sell-out due to ongoing use value, housing needs and expectations of their adult children, and a lack of formal financing to facilitate sales and buy-outs by other lower income families.
  4. Past title and tenure regularization programs will be thrown into disarray and titles will become clouded if programs of low cost title transfer are not developed to facilitate sales and inheritance.
  5. We need to think about low-cost building applications and user behaviors that that embody “green” and sustainable living practices.


Peter M. Ward holds the C.B. Smith Sr. Centennial Chair in US-Mexico Relations, and is professor in the Department of Sociology (College of Liberal Arts), and in the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs where he also serves as the Associate Dean for Research. He has worked as housing policy adviser for the Mexican government and held senior academic positions at the University of London and the University of Cambridge prior to moving to Texas in 1991. He was formerly director of the Mexican Center at the University of Texas LLILAS, and served as Executive Editor of the Latin American Research Review between 2002-07. He is the coordinator of the multi-city Latin American Housing Research Network.

Associated Materials

University of Texas webpage

Latin American Housing Research Network

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