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 uninhabited—empty 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 occupied—what 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
➢ Long term experiences on the street; cumulative effects of issues
❖ Often hidden, streets living only one small part
➢ 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
• 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,
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