Facing demolitions and forced evictions: involving youngsters


By URBACT, on August 18th, 2011

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The effects of Demolitions and Forced Evictions on Youngsters in Utrecht

When neighbourhoods fall into decline, cities often set up large-scale regeneration projects to revive them. Frequently, these projects also involve demolitions and forced evictions, strongly affecting local residents. Much research has been done in this field, but not much is known about the effects of neighbourhood redevelopment on youngsters. The research project ‘Youngsters, Housing & Demolitions’, conducted by Utrecht University, Utrecht University of Applied Sciences and Nicis Institute, looked into this question. The researchers discovered that involving youngsters in neighbourhood redevelopment can both have a positive influence on the neighbourhood and young people’s lives.

Young People & Neighbourhood Policies

The two main questions the research project focused on were:

Are youngsters positively or negatively affected by forced evictions and neighbourhood demolitions?

How do youngsters feel about living in a deprived neighbourhood?

There are three reports in Dutch on this. Two of them are more academic reports investigating, each of them one of the key questions. The third report was written for policy makers and practitioners. The results are presented in an accessible way which allows municipalities, welfare organisations, schools and housing corporation to make direct use of them in the formulation of their projects and policies.


The study – conducted among youngsters between the age of 12 an 21 in Utrecht, the Netherlands – found that neighbourhood restructuring can have a positive effect on young people’s lives, especially with respect to housing. Neighbourhood regeneration project often result in better housing conditions for youngsters and their families.

However, when it comes to other areas of social mobility, such as education, work and leisure time, more could be done. The researchers conclude that especially when it comes to the use and development of public space in the neighbourhood, youngsters should be involved more directly. Youngsters like to meet and hang out with their friends outside, which often leads to local problems of nuisance. If youngsters are involved in the creation of spaces for them to hang out, this problem could be reduced and minimised.

In addition, policy makers and practitioners should try their best to decrease the amount of stress and insecurity for youngsters in regeneration projects. Questions such as ‘Where are we going to live?’ or ‘Will I still be able to see my friends?’ form a strong source of stress for young people that could have a negative effect on their educational and professional performance. However, in general the study found that neighbourhood regeneration does not really obstruct social mobility among youngsters. Generally, the neighbourhood regeneration projects had a positive influence on their lives and their social position.

Policy Recommendations

  • Involve youngsters in neighbourhood (re)development;
  • Neighbourhood regeneration leads to upward mobility when it comes to housing. If youngsters are involved in regeneration projects more directly, the same effect could be reached in the field of leisure;
  • Youngsters need clarity and security when it comes to their position in a regeneration project;
  • Involve youngsters in the (re)development of public- and outdoor spaces;
  • Involve the parents. They often don’t know what their children are doing and could be stimulated to play a more prominent role in the redevelopment of the neighbourhood.

Related URBACT Projects

More Information ( in dutch)

NICIS, URBACT National Dissemination Point in the Netherlands

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