The American Housing Question reframes the question of affordable housing through the concepts of urban citizenship and racism. Randolph Hohle argues that when we consider who benefits from affordable housing, we end up with a complex story of inclusion and exclusion and of privilege and mobility centered around race and social class. Historically, affordable housing’s underlying logic was to create the conditions for white people to exercise the privilege of mobility. Affordable housing policy was first and foremost about granting white people the ability to live in racially-segregated neighborhoods within and across urban areas. When the beneficiaries of affordable housing policy were predominately white, the state proceeded with a comprehensive and multifaceted plan to supply housing, including public housing, subsidizing the construction of market rate housing, rental vouchers, and rent control. The white response to the Civil Rights era – the precursor to neoliberal urban policy – privatized public housing, switched the responsibility to provide affordable housing to the market, and created the conditions for the financialization of housing in the twenty-first century that have made housing unaffordable for everyone. As the author aptly demonstrates, solving America’s housing question means addressing both racism and revaluing the notion of the public.
Randolph Hohle is associate professor of sociology at SUNY-Fredonia.
Table of Contents
Chapter 2: Urban Citizenship, The Privilege of Mobility, and the Affordable Housing Debates
Chapter 3: Making Housing Affordable
Chapter 4: The Undoing: Affordable Housing in the Neoliberal Era
Chapter 5: America’s Housing Question in the 21st Century
About the Author
Randy Hohle explains, in clear and engaging language, why housing in the US is becoming ever more unaffordable. He presents the long history of housing exclusion that targeted Black people and the more recent effects of financialization and speculation that have severed the protections white people won through racist laws and practices and with government subsidies. If you want to understand how we reached this point and what can be done to make affordable housing accessible to all, you should read this book.
Sociologist Randy Hohle offers a critical take on our longstanding “affordable housing” crisis as always about systemic racism. Historically, white framing coded private-housing-white and public-housing-black, making the latter unacceptable and ensuring whites’ right to segregation from African Americans. After 1960s desegregation, whites still accented public-as-black but sought to privatize some public housing while maintaining their "right" to racially segregate. Hohle concludes with savvy solutions for the housing crisis requiring an end to racist white-privatization logic.