Working to crack the code of our housing logjam, I came across In Defense of Housing, by David Madden and Peter Marcuse. Published in 2016 by Verso, it explains that the excruciating housing crisis is a worldwide phenomenon.
Housing used to be intertwined with one’s work.
Today, it has morphed into a commodity that is exchanged for profit by investors all over the world who will never see the homes or the neighborhoods, from which they reap the profits.
No wonder this housing crisis is real, growing, and shows no sign of going away anytime soon. The market dictates that profit prevails over morality, good judgement and common sense.
The toxic combination of commodification and gentrification dooms people who just want a decent place to live.
Housing is a precondition for both work and for leisure. Controlling one’s housing is a way to control one’s labor as well as one’s free time, which is why struggles over housing are always, in part, struggles over autonomy. More than any other item of consumption, housing structures the way that individuals interact with others, with communities, and with wider collectives. Where and how one lives decisively shapes the treatment one receives by the state and can facilitate relations with other citizens and with social movements. No other modern commodity is as important for organizing citizenship, work, identities, solidarities, and politics. Page 12
In unequal contexts where the logic of commodification rules, some people will always be forced into uninhabitable dwelling spaces. Some will live in sheds, some in closets. Some will live amid toxic pollution. Some will be packed with twenty-five other people, including children, into a single home. These are not market failures – they are how the market works.
Ultimately, the problem with making housing a commodity is that as such, living space will be distributed based on the ability to pay and provided to the extent that it produces a profit. But ability to pay is unequal while the need for a place to live is universal. There is thus an unavoidable contradiction. page 51
I will attend the National Housing Conference Solutions for Housing Communications 2017 Convening again this year, Minneapolis this time. I gained valuable insight and information last year and look forward to more of the same.
Stand by for more on the housing front as I make headway with Home Sharing and Neighborhood Packing. If your community would like to hear more about this, let’s talk. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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