Strategies for promoting affordable housing in Oslo: a case of strong path dependence?
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This paper is an analysis of the new policy paper for the provision of affordable housing in Oslo, ‘Nye veier til egen bolig’ (new paths to a permanent home), launched by the City Government of Oslo in January 2019. The policy paper is examined in the theoretical light provided by Bengtsson and Ruonavaara’s weak (non-deterministic) conception of path dependence. I have identified the main political strategies for the provision of affordable housing in Oslo and mapped out four criteria based on three key moments (critical junctures) of in Norwegian housing history that I have used to discuss and measure the degree of path dependence in the affordable housing strategies: owner-orientation, rental-friendliness, market-orientation and subsidy-friendliness. The Danish housing scheme Almenbolig+ is included as a comparative element in the analysis, as the City Government have suggested to adapt this from Copenhagen. In the discussion I argue that there are varying degrees of path dependence in today’s affordable housing strategies, but the main tendency is that ownership strategies are the most emphasized and that the ambivalence towards rental housing still persists. The research questions of this paper are: 1) What are the main political strategies of the new policy paper (Nye veier til egen bolig) for the provision of affordable housing in Oslo? 2) To what extent do the affordable housing strategies of the City Government and the surrounding political debates reflect a strong path dependency? The purpose of this study is to shed light on the historical preconditions shaping the affordable housing strategies in Oslo. I also seek to contribute to the scholarly literature on path dependence and housing. Contrary to many other studies in this research field, I do not take path dependence for granted, but seek to measure and discuss the causal strength of the critical junctures of the past.