Urban Street in Africa

Precarious Homes

Housing, inequality and the making of urban futures

Precarious Homes is an Urban Age research project examining current approaches to housing in Addis Ababa, Nairobi and Lagos and whether they are fostering or constraining the achievement of better and more just urban futures.

This research project examines the extent to which investments in the built environment, in particular in “affordable” housing and real estate, are not only reconfiguring urban space in African cities but also producing new forms of inequality and precariousness among ordinary urban residents. By documenting the narratives of government housing officials, real estate developers and the experiences of residents in new housing developments in Addis Ababa, Nairobi and Lagos, the starting point of this project is that “affordable” housing and real estate are not necessarily embodiments of opposing visions of urban shelter, but complementary in enabling the marketisation and financialisation of the urban space. The developmental concern with providing home ownership for the city’s low and middle classes, the explosion of real estate investment and the expansion of the banking system via an increasing volume of mortgage financing, all contribute to seizing value and land for investments.

The objective of this project is to explore how current approaches to housing  are contributing to make the present more precarious for city’s residents: burdening city dwellers with indebtedness and spatial injustice, and rendering their livelihoods contingent on the fragile validity of investors’ and government’s projections of growth as continuous and cumulative.




Project coordinator
Marco Di Nunzio
Research strand
Cities, Space and Society
2017 - 2018