In the United States, however, housing is primarily a commodity – something to be bought and sold for a profit, the price of which goes up and down based on how the real estate market values the land on which the housing stands and its potential to create future passive income for investors. The ideology of the capitalist real estate market has thus colored not just economic and social policy in this country, but also the way we look at housing. We accept that 30% or more of our income is a rational price to pay for housing and that a person’s lack of adequate housing is simply a problem of laziness.
Housing is a human right. Full stop. As with clean water, food, and healthcare, humans come into existence needing some kind of shelter from the elements, a safe place to sleep, and a place to take care of the work of life: making and storing food, receiving mail, raising children, and caring for each other as we age.
We swim in the waters of “there is no alternative” from birth, even as that water gets more and more polluted. Our imaginations become so paralyzed that we can only react to symptoms of the housing crisis – eviction, homelessness, foreclosure, affordability, displacement, etc. – instead of generating new ways of organizing and creating housing that are rooted in equity and justice.
The practical goal of this website is to share research and news related to housing justice – both the symptoms of the crisis as well as a variety of perspectives, ideas, and examples of how people in different places define and struggle for housing. The aspirational goal of this website is to inspire people to embrace housing as a human right and to demand policy solutions that address the roots of the housing crisis instead of just putting bandaids on symptoms.
Artwork in lead photo by New Orleans artist/activist Brandon Odums as part of Project Be, 2013. Mural depicts the fourth point of the Black Panther’s 1966 10-Point Platform: We Want Decent Housing Fit For The Shelter Of Human Beings. “We believe that if the White Landlords will not give decent housing to our Black community, then the housing and the land should be made into cooperatives so that our community, with government aid, can build and make decent housing for its people.”