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Chapter 12

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Department
Sociology
Course
Sociology 2152A/B
Professor
William Marshall
Semester
Winter

Description
Sociology 2152B Chapter 12 • Housing: A place to live o Adequate housing: who has it?  Inadequate housing = presence of structural defects, safety hazards that inhibit people from living there  The worse housing is found to be occupied by the poor and minorities who are subject to discrimination (people who have the fewest social choices)  A steady decline in available, low rent housing units and increase in rent  Reduced government funding for the poor  Unintended consequence = increase of homelessness o Housing Problems: A brief history  Current housing problems have their roots in the past th  Many of the older 19 century housing had conditions way worse than what is unacceptable today  Governments did little to help  Only during the U.S economy collapse in the 1930s (the great depression), did the government (Roosevelt) enact a new housing program (New Deal)  A New Deal = Under the new deal, federal housing program had 4 specific goals: 1) government directed federal funds to encourage the construction of new housing, 2) Agencies offered assistance to homeowners faced with foreclosure, 3) the federal housing administration (FHA) guaranteed construction loans to increase the housing supply, 4) the public works administration begun in 1938, hired unemployed people to build low rent housing in 30 U.S states  Postwar Programs  All housing constructions slowed for the duration of WWII  A major shortage of housing for soldiers (baby boom) along with the continued need to improve the overall quality of housing, led the government to devise several new strategies  One was the broadening of federal mortgage guarantees through the FHA and the Veterans Administration (VA) to military personnel  VA was created under the GI bill of rights  The housing act of 1949 = initiated the suburban boom = encouragement of housing outside the city relieved the urban population pressure  Another component of the Housing Act of 1949 was urban renewal via eminent domain  Most often, urban renewal projects created housing for middle- class, discriminates against low income family (e.g Boston Italian West End)  Because of urban renewal projects, ironically, slum clearance created more slums as it forced poor people to find new slums to live at (overcrowding leads to deteriorating of other areas)  Urban renewal often made the housing crisis even worse = many redevelopers did not build as many housing units as had been destroyed (e.g NYC – Lincoln center)  Public Housing  Our cultural orientation has long viewed private home ownership as the foundation of a virtuous life and a stable social order. Therefore, people tend to judge those living in publicly supported rental housing as being somehow deficient  Stigma of public housing = ghettos, places to avoid, poor people live in them, contain the “unwanted” of society  A lot of public housing were once high rise projects that turned bad, turned into human disaster, plagued by crime, low income, overcrowding, and disgusting living conditions (e.g St. Louis Pruitt- Igoe Project)  Why are public housing in such bad conditions?  Many causes = 1) residents have themselves to blame (low income, have children that they can’t afford, act in irresponsible ways), 2) design of high rises, prone to crimes and vandalism, 3) negative influences of concentrated poverty  Different Approaches  The Housing Act of 1968 attempted to place home ownership within reach of more families through loan guarantees and direct subsides  Low income families would only pay 20% of the total, and the government would pay the rest  Problem = the purchasers would often find themselves with an overpriced house that needs a lot of repairs  Result = a lot of foreclosure, and the same families will end up back on the street  Section 8 Program (1974) = provides rent subsidies to low-income tenants in private housing  Still used today  This assistance enables tenants to choose where they want to live instead of forcing them into a public housing project  The program offers subsidies to developers to build or rehabilitate rental housing  Developers set aside a portion of units for low-income families, and in return, will receive 30% rent from tenants, and the rest from government  Even though is helping with the stock of low income housing, the program is extremely under-funded, and waiting list can last for years  Evaluation  Because of the deep involvement of private banking and construction industries in renewal programs, PROFIT became number 1 priority  Intention changed from providing houses for the low- income families to redeveloping the central city to restore its economic health = reduction in the total amount of low cost housing across urban North America  Local residents had little voice in the decision making process  Redevelopers didn’t even try to understand that many areas subject to redevelopment were actually healthy, safe neighborhoods. Used a middle-class mindset in redeveloping the housing units, didn’t consider the low- income lifestyle to be normal o Deterioration and Abandonment in the Inner City  Inner-city neighborhoods lost population and deteriorated sharply because of sprawling  2 million abandoned buildings, with an additional 150,000 into the 1980s  During the 1990s, these numbers dropped considerably thanks to economic revitalization and the gentrification process  A recent study still revealed that a total of 185,000 abandoned residential units in 19 cities with a population of more than 100,000 still exist. (Detroit have 45,000 abandoned buildings)  Why do people just walk away from otherwise usable buildings in cities where housing is in short supply?  Prices have been rising in everything. Owners need to make a profit so NO maintenance on property  OR they leave and let the property go into foreclosure which leads to people stealing everything (sinks, tubs, plumbing), the building is then left to rot  The Great Recession and Foreclosures  Million lost their jobs and unable to pay for their mortgage, house = foreclosure  Lack of buyers, house market price = went down, a lot of buyers owned mortgages more than what their house is worth  200,000 foreclosure from 2008-2010  Studies show that blacks and Latinos were 70% more likely to lose their homes = higher unemployment rate, and fewer financial resources to fall back on  The economic fallout was esp. bad in the Sunbelt metro regions = Nevada, California, and Florida  Nationwide, foreclosure rates were up in 72% of 206 U.S metro areas in 2010  The Inner City Today: A Revival?  Efforts by private groups to rebuild certain inner-city areas have achieved significant results in recent decades  Urban Homesteading  Wilmington, Delaware th  1973, people revived the mid 19 century homestead act that gave away land and mules if people would fix the houses and live there for a min. of 5 years  The city offered buildings it acquired through default of tax payments for a token fee of a few hundred dollars to people who agree to rehabilitate them and stay there for a min. of 3 years  Often transferring houses to people at the top of the waiting list for the Section 8 program  Sweat equity = in the South Bronx of NYC, the city was turning into the worse slum in America, but people never gave up on it, with their sweat (labor), they rebuild the city from the group up  Urban Homesteading = limited success because many homes were destroyed beyond repair and many cost a lot so it eliminated poor people  Lower East Side, NYC = Urban Homesteading Success (800 abandoned buildings now serve as homes for low- income families)  Sweat equity = Habitat of Humanity (non-profit organization), build more than 30,000 houses in the U.S, and 2,000 in Canada for low income families  Gentrification  Refers to the movement of more affluent individuals and families back into older, often, decaying areas in the city  Every major city in Canada and U.S are experiencing Gentrification  Gentrification is targeting “yuppies”, middle class people  Many middle-class people still find the city have the greatest amount of variety and stimulation  Economic restructuring increased the amount of professional jobs available which yuppies take but need a place to live  As more women enter the workforce, the time needed to take care of a single suburban family home = too troublesome  Suburban homes are expensive, some city homes are a bargain  Many city houses have the craftsmanship and quality of th the 19 century (solid oak floors, stained-glass. Etc.)  Political economy theorists see gentrification as a logical inflow of capital investment = emergence of the rent gap (profit above costs) in the inner city = more capital is thrown into the inner city o The New Urbanism  Jane Jacobs = The Death and Life of Great American Cities  Jacobs argues that we should not take housing projects as separate entities but integrate them into the community  New Urbanism = includes sociological principles in physical planning, initially, a response to the lack of sense of community in sprawling  Some of the principles of New Urbanism are walkability, connectivity, mixed use and diversity, mixed housing types, and a traditional neighborhood structure with public space at the center  The goal is to create spaces that encourage people to socialize and watch out for each other  Example: Seaside, Florida  Columbia Point/Harbor Point  Columbia Point built in 1953 became a slum  Reopened in 1990, use the principles of New Urbanism  Many consider Harbor Point to be a success model of urban revitalization  Harbor Point has the contrived variety of a planned community  New Urbanism enabled many cities to rediscover the aesthetics and possibilities for social use of public space at water’s edge, example: Inner Harbor, NYC’s South Street Seaport  New Urbanism replaced high rise public housings into modest townhouses and low-rise buildings that Don’t look like “projects”  New Urbanism demolished a lot of high rise buildings to get rid of slum areas  The design of all 3 developments, in Newark, Atlanta, and Chicago use grid patterns linking the public houses to the surrounding neighborhoods rather than setting them apart  These rebuilding programs seek 2 goals: 1) don’t separate the poor from the rest of the community, 2) create an environment that is physically attractive and facilitates walking and social interaction, fostering a sense of control and community among residents  Limitation  3 major problems of New Urbanism prevent it from having a boarder impact  1) Fewer lower income housing available = displacement of the poor = homelessness  2) Weaving a housing project into the surrounding area is DIFFICULT  3) New Urbanism cannot, by itself, address the extensive poverty that makes public housing such a problem in the first place  A Comparison  The lesson to be learned here is that new architecture and even new planning strategies, such as New Urbanism don’t work if they have limited application  Any successful approach to improving urban life must take account of not only local planning considerations but also broader, structural concerns that include social stratification and the region’s economy o Education: The U
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