This paper investigates how the inclusion of political lifecycles and unrestricted housing development by private developers will impact the spatial arrangement and density of slums in a virtual urban environment. To do this, I build on the agent based model (ABM) entitled “Slumulation” developed by Crooks, Koizumi and Patel (2012). The intention of this is to generate conversation around the ways individual action impact the urban environment, and also how other stakeholders in the city create conditions that motivate the emergence of certain spatial arrangements over time. Through the addition of code into the original model, I am able to augment the actions of two actors in particular: politicians and developers. Borrowing from literature, I include local political cycles that minimize the interaction between urban dwellers and politicians throughout most of the simulation, except for in the case of election times where special consideration is made that allows for lower rents and lax rule enforcement in exchange for political support. In the center of this city, housing developers are programmed to build housing for high- and middle-income households because the real estate sector and government policies are encouraging the construction of a new and modern urban image that slowly prices out lower-income residents of the inner city. These additions show that local politics and development without efforts to mitigate the impact on individual households may contribute to slums, high density urban neighborhoods, and the peripheralization of the city’s most vulnerable.
About the Author
Alexander McGrath is a non-profit professional currently working as an analyst on national grant programs in the Washington, DC metro area. Prior to this he earned his degree in city and regional planning from Cornell University, where his academic work focused on quantitative methods of planning and how they can be employed to better understand larger issues that impact individuals in urban and rural environments. Alexander’s re- search has focused on employing these methods to better understand the current rapid changes in Vietnam and the impact of new housing developments on the city’s outskirts.