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hooks on housing


bell hooks continues to wow:

More than any other issue facing our nation, housing will be the concern that will force citizens to face the reality of class. Every day citizens of this nation buy houses they cannot afford and will not own in their lifetime. Ironically, in many parts of our nation the houses get bigger and grander even as incomes dwindle. The gap between those who have and those who have not will be registered by the revolt of citizens who once believed that they would always have the right to own, confronting the reality that housing is rapidly becoming a luxury that only those with unlimited resources can hold on to. Anybody with credit can buy a house but not everyone can keep their home. Housing will be the site of future class struggle in this nation. As the homeless increase, jobs are lost and homes become crowded or impossible to find and hold on to, class discrimination in housing will become more apparent. Those of us who have class privilege, who reside somewhere in the middle of our society’s economic totem pole, will have to choose where we stand. Will we stand for the right of everyone to have safe affordable housing irrespective of income or will we stand with the greedy—the speculators in real estate who only exploit for profit?

Making real estate speculation work for homeowners with a degree of class privilege who are nevertheless not rich is the seduction offered those who have a degree of class privilege. . . . It allies our class interests with that of the ruling classes who are only concerned with profit.

I can see this happening every day in my community and all over the nation. The current stories in the media on the increase in mortgage foreclosures is a perfect example of exactly what hooks is describing.



  1. Dr. Skippy says:

    While my experience (anecdotal evidence) says that Hook is pointing to something that is happening to people and that it is bad, some additional information would be helpful.

    First, what is happening? And what does bad man? Is it bad to die in debt? Are the few people who own their homes outright better off? In what ways are they better off? What other quality-of -life vectors are affected?

    Second, trends and statistics would give us hints about who this is happening to, and how it is happening. Correlations would tell us where to look for causes or at least coincidences. This is an inherently complex issue. I don’t mean complex in the sense that the causes and effects are a difficult-to-sort-out ball of spaghetti. What I mean is that small changes in initial conditions may result in (nonlinear!) large changes in outcomes.

    I tend to agree with Hook; therefore I tend to believe this understanding should inform behavior, policy. But say so over and over–or hearing a story from someone you know that supports your bias—doesn’t make it so. I admire Hook’s passion; I long for a world with both passion and rigorous analysis.

  2. halshop says:

    I’m with you on the need for both passion and analysis. hooks is self-consciously an essayist and not trying to present the statistical evidence. I like reading her because she writes well, because what she writes frequently rings true for me, and because she makes me think about things in new and important ways—at least that’s my opinion. However, I believe the evidence exists for what she is claiming and I now consider it a little project to find it for you and the rest of us (maybe someone out there already has it?). Stay tuned for more.

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