Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Carving out the Commons: book talk today at American University (and tomorrow in Baltimore)

Unbeknownst to me, independent research Amanda Huron has written a book about DC's limited equity low income housing co-ops, which is opportune given my recent writings on the topic, including "Not particularly radical: housing ideas from Right to the City."

From the book's website at the University of Minnesota:
Amanda Huron will be at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center on Wednesday, April 4 at 4:00 p.m. for a reading and signing of her new book, Carving Out the Commons: Tenant Organizing and Housing Cooperatives in Washington, D.C..

Carving Out the Commons theorizes the practice of urban “commoning” in Washington, D.C., through an investigation of the city’s limited-equity housing cooperatives. It asks whether a commons can work in a city where land and resources are scarce and how strangers who may not share a past or future come together to create commonly held spaces in the midst of capitalism.

"Through interviews and historical research, Amanda Huron gives us an in-depth description of the formation of a housing cooperative in Washington, D.C. in the ’70s and develops a theoretical structure enabling us to generalize this experience to other cities. It is an incisive book that speaks to a vital issue in contemporary politics and social theory."—Silvia Federici, author of Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation

"Amanda Huron illuminates new ways of thinking what social justice in the city can look like. Her writing is rigorous yet upholds the dignity of the people she studies and their attempts to stake out a right to their city. Carving Out the Commons will be a go-to both for academics and organizers in the coming years."—James Tracy, author of Dispatches Against Displacement: Field Notes from San Francisco's Housing Wars

She's also speaking in Baltimore tomorrow, at Red Emma's Bookstore and Café. Coincidentally, Red Emma's is a workers cooperative.

Labels: , , , , , ,


At 10:13 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

I'd be curious to compare co-op in strong market vs weak market; strong market can introduce some difference incentives.

Off topic:

At 10:40 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

will read.

wrt your first point, please expand.

Unfortunately, I was expecting a package and didn't want it potentially stolen if I wasn't home and it wasn't delivered til after 4pm, so I missed the talk. Don't think I'll be making it to Baltimore.

At 11:30 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

easy to look at housing as a "social value" in a weak market and say you don't want to make money on it.

IN a strong market, opposite problem.

Then you've got the costs of conversion, which I think is one reason it is our of favor in DC.

At 1:00 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

at the nat. trust conference in St. Paul in 2007 I went on a tour led by a local preservation group. Along the way they lauded themselves for doing preservation with no displacement.

On the tour, I openly scoffed. I said it's easy to do "no displacement" when there is limited, especially almost zero, demand.

Similarly, at a conference in Balt. a couple years ago, one of the leading housing advocates of the city lamented how far behind the times Baltimore was for not having an inclusionary zoning policy.

Afterwards, I was talking with a leading author/housing research guy, Alan Mallach, and we both laughed over that statement, making the point that with 50,000+ empty lots and buildings, Baltimore's problem was lack of demand, not ensuring new housing had a swathe of affordability.

So yes, you're right. HOWEVER, where the cost of conversion doesn't make sense with a SFH that remains a SFH, it's doable if you can make two units out of it (by adding a floor to a rowhouse) or splitting a lot into two if it will be able to meet the building regulation requirements.

That's where I used to sometimes get zonked, but not anymore, because now I know how to recognize the signs. That's where the market is now.

My neighborhood is a bit different. It's f*ing frustrating right now, because depending on how much you pay for a house in my neighborhood and how much it requires in renovation, flippers can still make good money. (But still, tear downs--in our area, really "bulk ups"--make little sense. They did maybe 3-4 years ago when you could buy a house with a decent lot for less than $400 because of the condition.)

We get a couple mailings a week offering to buy our house. Yesterday, a f*ing phone call. And I angrily hung up on a similar call a month or two back. I wish I would have had the poise to listen.

My point about cooperatives now is as a form of semi-permanent lower cost housing. But it requires special circumstances to work and would have to have DHCD/nonprofits in the drivers seat. E.g., it'd be something to do at the Anacostia Metrorail station, even Takoma or Fort Totten. But it would require way more vision and thinking than the area is capable of.

E.g. LISC has put a lot of money into "warding off gentrification" vis a vis the Bridge Park.

They would have had a lot more impact creating an affordability housing cooperative fund 10+ years ago, and focusing on Metrorail stations.

The same could be done with the Purple Line, etc.


Post a Comment

<< Home