I grew up in a union family and both of my grandfathers went on to work blue-collar union jobs when they came home from World War II. They started their families during “the good old days” – the years after World War II when the US built a huge middle class that the majority of Americans were part of. If you were not an aristocrat graced with old family money, you worked with your hands in a factory or a field before the Great Depression hit in late 1929. Unable to find work during the depression, my nineteen-year-old grandfather enlisted in the military in 1938 and served for four years in the Phillippines. He came home in 1942 and got a job working as a mechanic for International Harvester, later joining the civilian effort as a mechanic at Camp Kilmer. He owned a simple house where he and my grandmother raised four children. He only had an eighth grade education. My Pop-pop arrived in the US at the age of four from Kingston, Jamaica aboard the ship Abangarez. He was drafted and was awarded a Silver Star at The Battle of Anzio in 1944. He returned home and got a job at the Bristol Myers Squibb factory, raising three children with my grandmother in the simple row homes near the factory. Both of my grandfathers were union members – a Teamster and a Machinist. Continue reading “The greatest generation loved affirmative action”
This is the last part of my thesis I’m posting here: the introduction. My purpose is to share some of the thinkers that inspire me as I continue to think and learn about alternatives to the capitalist real estate market. It doesn’t get very deep; I’m not a great theoretician or jargon generator so it’s pretty short compared to the other parts of my thesis. You can find the first two parts here: A BRIEF-ISH HISTORY OF HOUSING POLICY IN THE UNITED STATES and SOCIAL HOUSING IN VIENNA: LESSONS FOR PHILADELPHIA?
Realizing a Right to Housing in Philadelphia: Towards a Cohesive Strategy
This paper is an intervention into the market-based housing policy status quo in the United States, and the city I call home, Philadelphia. It is also an intervention into the single-issue activism and advocacy that dominates in social movement circles that deal with housing issues. I will argue that current housing policy in the United States is layered upon generations of racialized public policy that has always centered market ideology at the expense of human flourishing, and therefore an ameliorative approach that seeks to tweak current policy will not be able to adequately address either the structural racism built into the US housing market or the gross distributional inequities the market produces. Instead, I will build the case for a transformative approach that not only critiques the status quo, but parts ways with it to create a realm of struggle for an ideological and instrumental right to housing. Continue reading “Imagining Housing Justice Under Late Capitalism”
I traveled to Vienna in July/August 2017 to get a feel for the city and see for myself what Vienna’s social housing looks like on the ground, as well as to learn from the perspective of people living there. Photos from that trip are interspersed throughout this post to give context and help the reader better imagine social housing. There’s also a great exhibit up at the Center for Architecture in NYC through May 19, 2018 called “Social Housing – New European Projects” that I highly recommend for anyone looking for more inspiration and to get an idea about the kinds of problems (poverty, social isolation, aging, etc.) that these social housing projects (in conjunction with social programs) have set out to address. Lastly, as I finished my thesis (of which this post is a part), Dr. Peter Dreier from Occidental College in Los Angeles published a great article called “Why America Needs More Social Housing” in American Prospect. Definitely worth a read for even more of the Vienna social housing context and ideas for why social housing (suited to the geography and social history of a particular city of course) would go a long way towards addressing the housing crisis in a transformative way.