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By : Sasha Tsenkova

The 1990s have marked a departure from the Soviet model of housing provision in Latvia with deregulation of housing markets and privatisation of public housing being the flagship of the reform process. In the context of this wholesale shift away from direct state intervention to market-based provision of housing services, municipalities have emerged as the new social landlords with major responsibilities for the provision of social housing as well as housing assistance. This paper explores the impact of housing policy reforms on the system of public rented housing in Latvia. It evaluates the process of change with a particular emphasis on the institutional context and the emerging challenges for housing management. It is argued that the organization of public housing in Latvia still exhibits the features of a 'command' system where ownership and management is vested with municipalities and pricing policies are not sensitive to demand or quality of housing services. Allocation decisions rely on bureaucratic processes and institutional arrangements seem to impede the transition to a more market sensitive model.
Keywords : Public Housing, Asset Management, Housing Reforms in Eastern Europe, Latvia

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