Friday, July 29, 2011

Reshaping housing policy

Shelterforce, in celebration of its 36th anniversary, published a set of essays called "6 Ideas to Reshape Housing Policy." In my essay, I proposed that the problem of housing lies not in the individual units, but in their assembly into larger wholes. One of the key issues we face is making those wholes dynamic, diverse, and integral. In proposing this thought, I echo Jane Jacobs, whose book, Death and Life of Great American Cities, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. She wrote, "In our American cities, we need all kinds of diversity, intricately mingled in mutual support. We need this so city life can work decently and constructively, and sot he people of cities can sustain (and further develop) their society and civilization." The great enemy of diversity in the American city is Jim Crow. The great hope for our future lies in reknitting the fragments back into an integral and functional whole. I'll be addressing this process of urban restoration in my new book, Elements of Urban Restoration.