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A Research on a Development Plan of Safe Residential Environment for Young Women in Seoul
  • Date : 2021-08-10
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A Research on a Development Plan of Safe Residential Environment for Young Women in Seoul

Kong Ju
Research Fellow, Seoul Foundation of Women & Family

Choi, Yoo-Jung
Researcher, Seoul Foundation of Women & Family


Housing instability among young people residing in Seoul continues to increase due to housing market conditions such as high rent and rising housing prices. As sexual crimes based on young women's residences, such as dating violence and stalking, have become publicized through the media, the anxiety that young women have inside and outside their residential place is high. However, many young women suffer from arranging a safe independent residential place in Seoul due to their low-paid unstable labor and limited access to affordable loans. Therefore, it is of great significance to pay attention to the reality of young women households and their policy demands in relation to housing safety, and to come up with policy alternatives accordingly. Thus, this study aims to understand household compositions and residential conditions of young women in Seoul, and suggest policy tasks necessary to development safe residential environment for them.

This study is divided into three parts. First, we analyze raw data of 「Korea Housing Survey」(2018~2019), by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, to understand housing conditions of young women in Seoul. The subject of analysis is young-headed households (a total of 1,655 households) between the ages of 19 and 39. We then categorized householders by their gender and marital status. Second, we review the policies and legal grounds of the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) and the central government related to housing safety and security for young women. Third, we conduct in-depth interviews. It is intended to understand the actual housing environment and policy demands of young women residing in Seoul, not revealed in statistical analysis.

Let's look at the statistical results of household economic level and housing conditions of young women in Seoul. The average monthly income of unmarried young female-headed households (hereafter UYFH households) in Seoul is 2.28 million won, and the average monthly living expenses is 1.36 million won. Their average asset is 83.59 million won, and the average debt is 11.66 million won. In addition, the relative poverty rate of UYFH households is 20.2%. The housing type of UYFH households is the highest in the order of detached house (including multi-family house) 36.2% > row house 22.8%. The rate of living in non-residential places, such as goshiwon, is also 8.7%. The occupancy type is the highest in the order of monthly rent(62.4%) > lease on a deposit basis(Jeonse) (29.4%) > owner-occupation(5%). Furthermore, 98.6% of young female-headed rental households live in private rental housing. The average rental deposit is 65.3 million won, and the average monthly rent is 500,000 won. We can see that young women's rent burden is quite high. Among UYFH households, only 13.6% have experienced housing renewal within 5 years. It means UYFH households move out frequently. As for the anxiety related to the renewal of the contract, it related to rising in rent is the most.

Among UYFH households, the percentage of the households that do not meet ‘the minimum residential standards' is ① 12.5% of less than the minimum size, ② 58.9% of the lack of room(s) by use, and ③ 8.2% of 190 the lack of facilities. It is also analyzed that 26.1% of UYFH households do not have firefighting equipment. In terms of quality of households, the level of dissatisfaction with noise is the largest, followed by mining > ventilation > fire > crime prevention > disaster stability. For the environment outside the house, the level of dissatisfaction with noise around the house is also the highest. Furthermore, 61.4% of UYFH households answered that they are in need of housing support programs. The demand for loans for Jeonse are the highest. In addition, 65.2% of UYFH households said they would like to move into public rental housing.

Secondly, we examined the governmental policies on women's safety and housing for the young. To date, the SMG has announced three comprehensive plans on women's safety(‘Women's Safe Metropolitan City', hereafter WSMC). In 2013, the WSMC 1.0 was announced with such policies as expanding the crime prevention environment design (CPTED) throughout the city in relation to creating safe living environments, supporting single women's home safety services, installing and operating a female-safe unmanned delivery service, and implementing facility maintenance projects like lighting improvement projects. In 2019, as part of ‘the Women's Safe Happy Maeul' project, ‘the Safe Single Zone' project was introduced, and expanded to 11 autonomous districts(gu) this year.

The SMG is also required to announce the comprehensive youth policy plan every five years after enacting the 「SMG Framework Ordinance on the Young」 (FOY) in 2015. In the “2020 Seoul Youth Security Promotion Plan,” announced in 2015, it presented the supply of customized public housing for single youth households as a key task. In 2018,
SMG Ordinance on Housing for the Young(OHY) was enacted to provide a legal basis for supporting policies on youth housing. The SMG has promoted its own projects such as ‘Youth housing in station areas' and ‘Intergenerational empathy under one roof'. In addition, as a policy entity that implements the central government's youth housing support policy in detail, the SMG promotes happiness housing, purchase/rental lease, public support housing, and college student dormitory(hope housing).

Meanwhile, the central government announced
Housing Welfare Roadmap 1.0in 2017, and Housing Welfare Roadmap 2.0in 2020. While diversifying the policies to reflect various policy demands from young people, ‘Yeoseong-Ansimjutaeg(female safety housing)' was also proposed by reflecting the concerns about housing safety that young women have. Moreover, it seeks ways to expand public housing and implement policies to promote shared housing. The central government enacted Framework Act on the Young(FAY) and Framework Act on Housing(FAH), legal basis for support policies on youth housing. The SMG also established OHY for a more comprehensive housing policy for the young.

Thirdly, the results from in-depth interviews of 30 young women living in Seoul can be summarized as follows. First, there is a high percentage of young women living under ‘the minimum residential standards'. Second, the burden of housing expenses is quite high. Third, the proportion of living in illegally established/renovated residential places is increasing. Fourth, they are experiencing frequent residential movements and various household configurations in the process. Fifth, there are distinctive differences in housing conditions and safety between young women. The economic power of the original family, the current state of economic activity, and the place of origin have influences on them. Sixth, the experience of ‘Social distancing' appears differently depending on residential conditions. The mental health problems of young women with poor housing conditions are likely to become more serious. We also analysed risk factors for residential safety that include crime damage, window structure, noise between floors, difficulty responding to problems with neighbors, and risks such as fire. In order to cope with those risk factors, we found that young women are trying to secure a minimum level of safety at an additional cost.

The interviewees emphasized that in order to develop safe residential environment for young women, housing stability needs to be strengthened first. Regarding housing safety, the interviewees said that although Seoul's women's safety policy has several limitations, it is rather effective for people in need. Therefore, it is necessary to further expand the policy targets so that young women in need can utilize them. It is also important to reinforce facilities by conducting a survey on the actual condition of residential safety to development safe residential environment.

Finally, we propose policy tasks based on the research results. First, we suggest policy tasks for improving residential safety as follow: ① Expanding public housing or social housing where various generations live together, ② Strengthening a crime prevention through environment design in the city with citizen participation, ③ Expanding support for safe home sets and reinforcement of follow-up inspections, ④ establishing support plans for women victims of residence-based crimes, ⑤ installing and inspecting firefighting facilities centering on multifamily houses, and ⑥ training citizens on countermeasures in case of danger, and expanding publicity of policies.

Second, we also propose policy tasks for residential stability as follow: ① Expanding of public housing, ② Strengthening rent support for precarious young workers and freelancers, ③ Including various types of households for public housing-expanding eligibility for occupancy in shared housing, ④ Expanding community facilities and prepared a plan for safe use, ⑤ Enhancing crackdown on illegally established/renovated houses, and ⑥ securing legal coercion against ‘the minimum residential standards' and establishing appropriate housing standards.

*Key words: Housing Conditions of Young Women in Seoul; Residential Insecurity; Residential Instability; Policy Tasks for Safe Residential Environment