The greatest generation loved affirmative action

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”

The greatest generation loved affirmative action

Imagining Housing Justice Under Late Capitalism

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?

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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”

Imagining Housing Justice Under Late Capitalism

Social Housing in Vienna: Lessons for Philadelphia?

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.

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From the social housing exhibit at the Center for Architecture.

Continue reading “Social Housing in Vienna: Lessons for Philadelphia?”

Social Housing in Vienna: Lessons for Philadelphia?

A Brief-ish History of Housing Policy in the United States

As geographers we are always reminded that our maps are inherently distorted in some way, whether it’s in shape, distance, or size. Mapmakers have the power to decide what gets included and what gets left out order to tell the most compelling and useful story. Tracking the history of housing policy has been the same for me. I tried to keep focused on housing while providing enough context so the reader could connect the dots. My account below is limited and flawed, but constantly growing the more I read and experience. Any constructive comments, book/author suggestions, or refutations of something I got completely wrong are appreciated. I hope my attempt to bring light to some of the existing literature on housing policy inspires you to further explore this history and question some of the truths you hold to be self-evident. Thanks for reading!

We Want Decent Housing. Photo source.Black Panther Party archive.
Source: Black Panther Archives

Continue reading “A Brief-ish History of Housing Policy in the United States”

A Brief-ish History of Housing Policy in the United States

Review: Gentrifier By John Joe Schlichtman, Jason Patch, and Marc Lamont Hill Foreword by Peter Marcuse

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GENTRIFIER
By John Joe Schlichtman, Jason Patch, and Marc Lamont Hill
Foreword by Peter Marcuse
UTP Insights
University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division © 2017
World Rights
256 Pages

If you are reading this review, there is a good chance that you may be a gentrifier. Hopefully it also means that you are curious about your role in the process of gentrification and open to picking apart what exactly is meant when gentrification is used by academics, activists, and policy makers to describe particular types of urban development. If not you will have a bad time. There is much in this book that will be controversial, flying in the face of conventional wisdom and slogans about gentrification, demanding that those of us with some skin in the game depart from the well-worn paths of description and condemnation to demand something bigger: a transformative approach to housing and community development policy (199). Continue reading “Review: Gentrifier By John Joe Schlichtman, Jason Patch, and Marc Lamont Hill Foreword by Peter Marcuse”

Review: Gentrifier By John Joe Schlichtman, Jason Patch, and Marc Lamont Hill Foreword by Peter Marcuse