chapter  4
16 Pages

Outsiders in the city: migrant housing and settlement patterns


Settlement patterns are an important determinant of the future socioeconomic standing of migrants. Where and how migrants live is likely to affect their general level of satisfaction with urban living and the ease or diffi culty to adapt to the new environment. Research on migrant settlement in Latin American cities reveals that new migrants (labeled as “bridgeheaders”) initially seek deteriorating rental shelter. Over time, migrants generally occupy better housing – from rented rooms to self-built shanties or houses. Once this transition is made, migrants become consolidators (Klak and Holtzclaw 1993 ; Turner 1968 ). To most migrants, proximity to employment ranks high on the list of preferences and needs, as income generation and economic viability are a primary objective for them. Particularly for new arrivals with few acquaintances in the city, an initial residence within walking distance of jobs is essential (Conway 1985 ; Gilbert and Varley 1990 ). Others also point out the importance of kinship and friendship ties, acting as social institutions (Abu-Lughod 1961 ; Banerjee 1983 ; van Lindert 1991).