in Housing, Housing Affordability, Urban Change

Favela Policy

β€œThe demonizing rhetoric of the various international wars on terrorism, drugs, and crime is so much semantic apartheid: they construct epistemological walls around gecekondusfavelas, and chawls that disable any honest debate about the daily violence of economic exclusion.” 

Mike Davis in Planet of Slums

War has matured from violent mechanization into routine political practices during the last century. All of them are tightly organized into specific spatial groupings. The roots of this application of power are well understood as the feudal, colonial, and postcolonial geographies of domination. The range of its influence on policy today requires revocation for one reason. It is a destroyer of cities. A good place to prove that a repudiation of the favela policy and a positive alternative is possible can be found in the neighborhoods of NYC. The damaging option is the long list of slowly enlarging favelas and poverty-occupied regions across the global city.

Practical perspectives from a progressive city like New York observes its urban world as a global entity. The phrase “core-periphery spatial structures” used to describe this view is academic but valuable when looking at the location of housing development sites that explain the attempt to meet human needs or fail to do so in the urban world.

The persistence of poverty has a place name in every country.

Housing Discussions

The following paragraphs introduce other posts in The Report on the subject of housing. First, it introduces access to resources that examine the world’s “shantytown.” Second, it looks at the failure of the built environment professionals to “step it up.” as leaders. Finally, two other articles focus on the idea of strategic exactions in housing development and the other on the crisis of “rent” in New York City as a bellwether for the nation. So here they are:

The Informals

Like the instruments of war, similar practices in the formation of political structures use spatial organization in a direct attempt to control people as capital. “Informal Settlement” is a standard description for the construction of this capital. It is a phenomenon that is considered an organic condition brought about by a long list of market failures. A short introduction to them will be found (here) for a more intensive global location examination. These are places where subsistence economy suffering is collective, but the observer will also discover many compelling examples of the creative human spirit at its finest. In many cases, the failure to find access to capital flow hierarchies often identified as the property of the powerful fails all of us.

Creating a Living Place

A more extensive examination of the causes is placed on the doorstep of the professional facilitators (here). It is not unfair to call out the lack of a professional moral compass among the building investor professions. This failure is not from the viewpoint of individuals but the institutional nucleus of their domains. The membership of the built environment institutions has not been one-tenth as capable of addressing the issues that cause human suffering like those of health and law. There are exceptions that prove efforts to fix this problem. The Report includes a post entitled Brooklyn is Charitable (here). In it, there is a small list of organizations and institutions that are attempting to push and pull urban planning, architecture, and engineering into the world of social and environmental justice.

Strategic Exactions

The introduction of new urban housing and the question of affordability is highly complicated. Will the introduction of a “gentry” encourage the displacement of lower-income who rent? Will higher-income people, regardless of skin color, remain silent in defense of the vulnerable members of a community. This post is entitled “Castling” and examines the use of this medieval structure as a metaphor for power. An examination of anti-displacement strategies for New York City neighborhoods (here) looks at the American urban version of the favela, politely referred to as geographies of the city where “persistent poverty” is the issue. Finally, this post looks at “exactions” with the name community benefits agreement and ideas about alternatives such as “strategic exactions.”

The Rent Crisis

A detailed look at housing malfunctions is (here). One of the points made in this post is how an organization was founded in 1937, but the facts are sharp. The genius of the Citizens Housing and Planning Council (CHPC) is how the five rooms of an apartment can represent the five costs of development. These are 1) construction, 2) taxes, 3) land, 4) money, and 5) operating costs. CHPC points out that of all five costs, only one has the most significant impact on rent. Answer: the cost of money is the primary factor. Today a change of one percent in the average interest rate from development through permanent financing could alter rents significantly. Attempts to manipulate all of the other costs yield minimal impact on rent.

Freddie Mac estimated at the end of 2020 that the United States was 3.8 million housing units short of meeting the nation’s needs. Combine that with the surge of millennials into the housing market β€” they represented more than half of all mortgage originations last year β€” as well as the insatiable appetite of investors, who now snatch up nearly one in six homes sold in America. The contours of a new, lightning-fast, permanently desperate housing market come clearly into view.”

New York Times, 11/12/2021

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