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In Defense of Housing: The Politics of Crisis

In every major city in the world there is a housing crisis. How did this happen and what can we do about it?
Everyone needs and deserves housing. But today our homes are being transformed into commodities, making the inequalities of the city ever more acute. Profit has become more important than social need. The poor are forced to pay more for worse housing. Communities are faced with the violence of displacement and gentrification. And the benefits of decent housing are only available for those who can afford it.

In Defense of Housing is the definitive statement on this crisis from leading urban planner Peter Marcuse and sociologist David Madden. They look at the causes and consequences of the housing problem and detail the need for progressive alternatives. The housing crisis cannot be solved by minor policy shifts, they argue. Rather, the housing crisis has deep political and economic roots—and therefore requires a radical response.

Reviews

  • “Excellent.”
  • “A critical analysis of the nature of the housing crisis within a political economy perspective. The authors highlight a conflict between housing as home and as real estate for profit making and focus upon processes of commodification of housing, power and exploitation, and inequality and injustice in contemporary capitalist society...A significant contribution to urban planning, sociology, and public policy.”
  • “An accessible, jargon-free account of how housing works under capitalism and a clarion call for how we can — and must — change it.”
  • In Defense of Housing clearly lays out the systemic nature of the housing crisis and seamlessly breaks down complicated economic concepts. Madden and Marcuse gently disabuse readers of illusions that the end of the housing crisis is just a policy tweak away.”

Blog

  • Benign Neglect and Planned Shrinkage

    The frequency and scale of the spectacular fires that consumed much of the South Bronx and other areas of New York City throughout the 1970s can in large part be blamed on the recommendations for fire service reduction made by the New York City-RAND Institute and HUD between 1969 and 1976. In 1973, urban epidemiologists Deborah Wallace and Rodrick Wallace got access to Rand's fire service reports. Immediately recognizing the flimsy pseudoscience that undergirded their claims, they began to write and campaign against the station closures and the other policies based on Rand recommendations.

    "By 1978," the Wallaces write in their introduction to
     A Plague on Your Houses: How New York Was Burned Down and National Public Health Crumbled (published by Verso in 1998), "we discovered that the Rand-recommended fire service cuts had triggered an epidemic of building fires and heated up a related epidemic of building abandonment. We submitted a grant proposal to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to assess public health outcomes of this massive destruction of housing in New York's poor neighborhoods. The NIH did not even review our proposal. That research plan, carried out over a period of fifteen years without federal funding, resulted in this book."

    In the excerpt below, Wallace and Wallace situate the development of Rand's recommendations in the context of the deliberate de-industrialization of New York undertaken by federal and state officials.  
       


    John Fekner, Charlotte Street Stencils, South Bronx, NY 1980. via Wikimedia Commons.

    Daniel P. Moynihan and Benign Neglect

    Not an arsonist at first glance, Daniel Patrick Moynihan burned down poor neighborhoods in cities across the country as surely as if he had doused them in kerosene and put a match to them.

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  • Red Sale 2017

    A special Red Flash-Sale, 50% off these selected books (with free worldwide shipping) until Feb 15, midnight (UTC).

    Click here to activate your discount.


     

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  • Staff Picks: Books of the Year 2016—Chosen by Verso

    The antidote to the ills of 2016 has to be found in a book. As Verso staffers have found over the course of this year, we turn to books for nourishment and resources to help us make sense of and respond to this monumental year and times to come. As much as we publish books for both these purposes, there are others out there doing much of the same good work. So once again, here's our non-Verso staff picks from Verso staff in London and New York!


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