SOC 2390 Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Piggy Bank, Social Inequality, Housing First

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SOC 2390: Lecture Notes: November 19th: Housing and Homelessness
St. George Wharf Tower (Vauxhall Tower), London’s tallest residential skyscraper
Penthouse= 51 million euros; most units about 2 million euros
Largely uninhabitedempty units, just a place where people invest
Called a “giant piggy bank” for global rich
Housing is now a key investment strategy for very rich
Amidst affordability crisis in the city
184 of 210 units not registered to vote
Why does this matter?
Increased property values displace lower income residents
Where do those pushed out of the city go? How does this change work/life arrangements?
Re-organizes social relationships; the building is only partially occupiedwhat happens to
Are cities only for the super-rich? Evidence that this sort of empty unity housing speculation is
happening in Toronto & Vancouver
Housing and Social Inequality
How do we develop a nuanced understanding of homelessness and housing insecurity? (social,
cultural, economic and political factors?
What are the key debates?
What are some solutions that have been developed by advocates?
The meaning of Home
Housing is a physical space
Housing is a symbolic space
Bare minimum physical definition (UN): “adequate”: space, privacy, security, lighting,
ventilation/light, infrastructure, location
A relative standard of adequate depending on nation/context
Assessing Housing Insecurity
Do you spend more than 30% of your income on housing (recommended)?
Do you spend more than half of your income on housing?
What barriers are you experiencing trying to find/keep housing costs affordable?
Types of Homelessness
Uncontrollable circumstances
i.e., losing a job, abuse
Recurring issues that puts a person at higher risk of housing insecurity at certain times
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Long term experiences on the street; cumulative effects of issues
Often hidden, streets living only one small part
Definitional Dilemmas
Includes all types of homelessness and housing insecurity
Everything from living rough, to those in shelters, to those in temporary circumstances,
to those at risk of being homeless
A way to include and advocate for resources for the largest possible group
Maximizes #’s/sense of problem
Guidelines developed by Canadian Observatory on Homelessness
Includes only those who are without housing or in emergency housing
A much small population, but the most urgent one
#’s harder to establish because it includes more focused understanding of issue and
potential solutions
235,000 homeless, with 35,000 on any given night
Of that:
500 unsheltered;
180,000 staying in shelters,
50,000 in provisional shelter
National shelter study:
403 emergency homeless shelters in Canada
Number of users about the same between 2005-2009, but more people staying longer,
especially families
Reframing Homelessness as Housing Insecurity
Housing insecurity refers to broad set of barriers to accessing housing and risk factors
Identifies and includes those with precarious (unstable) housing to recognize how circumstances
can change quickly
Tries to push the conversation away from quick fix approaches
More Shelter! More Shelters!
The limits of immediate fixes homelessness
Opting out of the shelter system is a strategy for some homeless
So, you can stay with your pet
So, you don’t have to worry about where to keep belongings
Because some shelters insist you be drug and alcohol free
Because shelters can be places of intimidation and violence
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