My housing publications


Housing titles July 14, 2011

 

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1981. “The Determinants of Housing Policy,” New York, Columbia University, Division of Urban Planning, Papers in Planning No. 21a.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1976. “Mass Transit for the Few,” Society, Vol. 13, No. 6, September‑October.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1971. “Social Indicators and Housing Policy,” Urban Affairs Quarterly, December.

 

Marcuse, Peter.  1971.  Tenant Participation ‑‑ for What?, Washington D.C., The Urban Institute, Working Paper  No. 112‑20, July 30, 1970.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1971. “The Rise of Tenant Organizations,” The Nation, July; printed in Housing in America, Daniel Mandelker and Roger Montgomery (eds.), Indianapolis: The Bobbs‑Merrill Co., Inc., pp. 492‑9, 1973 and 1979; also reprinted in Housing Urban America, John Pynoos, Robert Schaffer, and Chester M. Hartman, eds., Chicago: Aldine Publishing Co., pp. 49‑54, 1973 and 1981.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1972. “Homeownership for Low Income Families: Financial Implications” Land Economics, Volume 48, Number 2, May, 1972, pp. 134-143

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1972. “Indicators for Housing Policy,” Environmental Design: Research and Practice, Proceedings of the Third Annual Conference, Environmental Design Research Association, Los Angeles, January.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1972. “How to Have Your Cake and Eat it Too ‑‑ a New Tax Proposal that Helps the Cities, Yet Costs the Local Taxpayer Virtually Nothing,” Architectural Forum, March.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1972. “The Legal Attributes of Home Ownership.” Washington, D. C., The Urban Institute, April 13, Working Paper #209‑1‑1.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1972. “Home Ownership for Low Income Families: Legal and Financial Implications” Ph.D. dissertation, University of California at Berkeley.

 

Marcuse, Peter. with Richard Clark, “Tenure and the Housing System: The Relationship and the Potential for Change,” Working Paper 209‑8‑4, Urban Institute, 1973.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1975. “Residential Alienation, Home Ownership and the Limits of Shelter Policy,” Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare,  Vol. III,. 2, November. pp. 181‑203.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1978. “Housing Policy and the Myth of the Benevolent State,” Social Policy, Jan. Feb. Reprinted in Housing in America: Problems and Perspectives, Roger Montgomery and Daniel Mandelker, 2nd edition, Indianapolis: Bobbs‑Merrill, 1979, and in Critical Perspectives on Housing, Rachel Bratt, Chester Hartman, and Ann Meyerson, eds., Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1979. “The Deceptive Consensus on Redlining,” in Journal of the American Planning Association, 45, 4, October.

 

Marcuse, Peter. “The Ideologies of Ownership and Property Rights,” in Richard Plunz, ed. Housing Form and Public Policy in the United States, Columbia Monographs on Architecture, Preservation and Planning, New York: Praeger Publishers,

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1981. “The Strategic Potential of Rent Control,” in Rent Control: A Source Book, John I. Gilderbloom (ed.), San Francisco, Foundation for National Progress.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1982. “Building Housing Theory: Notes on some Recent Work,” in International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 115‑121.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1982.”The Determinants of State Housing Policies: West Germany and the United States,”in Norman and Susan Fainstein, eds., Urban Policy under Capitalism, Beverly Hills: Sage Publications.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1982. Housing Abandonment: Does Rent Control Make a Difference, Washington, D. C., Conference on Alternative State and Local Policies.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1983. “On the Ambiguities of Self‑help in Housing,” New York, Columbia University Division of Urban Planning, Papers in Planning, October.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1983. “A Luxury Housing Tax,” in City Limits, December.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1983. “Towards the Decommodification of Housing: A Political Analysis and a Progressive Program,” with Emily Achtenberg, in Chester Hartman (ed.), America’s Housing Crisis: What is to be done?, Institute for Policy Studies, Routledge & Kegan Paul, Boston; reprinted in Critical Perspectives on Housing, Rachel Bratt, Chester Hartman, and Ann Meyerson, eds., Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1984. Report on Study of Displacement in New York City, with Conclusions and Recommendations, New York, Community Service Society.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1985. “Gentrification, Abandonment, and Displacement:  Connections, Causes, and Policy Responses in New York City,” Journal of Urban and Contemporary Law, Volume 28, St. Louis, Washington University, pp. 195‑240. Reprinted in revised form in Smith, Neil, and Peter Williams, eds. 1986. Gentrification and the City, London, Allen and Unwin.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1985. “The Housing Policy of Social Democracy: Determinants and Consequences,”in Anson Rabinbach., ed., The Austrian Socialist Experiment, Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1984‑5. “To Control Gentrification: Anti‑Displacement Zoning and Planning for Stable Residential Districts,” New York University  Review of Law and Social Change, Vol. XIII, No. 4, pp. 931‑952, reprinted in Yearbook of Construction Articles, Washington, D.C.: Federal Publications, 1985.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1986. “The Beginnings of Public Housing in New York,” in Journal of Urban History, Vol. 12, No. 4:353‑390 August.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1986. “A Useful Installment of Socialist Work: Housing in Red Vienna in the 1920s,” in Critical Perspectives on Housing, Rachel Bratt, Chester Hartman, and Ann Meyerson, eds., Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1986. Review of Bullock, N. and Read, J.  The Movement for Housing Reform in Germany and France, 1840 ‑ 1914, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985. In the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, spring, 1986.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1986. The Uses and Limits of Rent Control: A Report with Recommendations, State of New York, Division of Housing and Community Renewal, December.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1987. “Why Are They Homeless,” The Nation, April 4, vol. 244, No. 13. Reprinted in Eitzen, D. Stanley, ed., Social Problems, Allyn & Bacon, and in Kennedy, Williams, ed., Writing in the Disciplines, Prentice Hall.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1987. “The Other Side of Housing: Oppression and Liberation,” in Bengt Turner et al, eds. Between State and Market: Housing in the Post‑Industrial Era, Göteborg, Sweden, pp. 232‑270.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1987. “Housing as Discipline: Beyond Decommodification,” New York, Columbia University Division of Urban Planning, Papers in Planning.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1988. “Neutralizing Homelessness.” Socialist Review, 88:1, pp. 69‑97. Reprinted in part in Lisa Orr. 1990. The Homeless: Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego, Greenhaven Press.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1988. “Divide and Siphon: New York City Builds on Division,”  City Limits, Vol. XIII, No. 3, March, pp. 8‑11.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1988. “Criticism or Cooptation: Can Architects Reveal the Sources of Homelessness?” Crit 20. Spring, p. 30.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1988. “Perspectives on Homelessness.” [Book review] Urban Affairs Quarterly, vol. 23, No. 4, June, pp. 647‑656.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1989. “Towards Clarity in East/West Housing Studies: Some Conceptual Issues of ‘Market’ and ‘State'”, Conference Paper, Noszvaj, Hungary, June.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1989. “Gentrification, Homelessness, and the Work Process: Housing Markets and Labour Markets in the Quartered City,” Housing Studies, vol. 4, No. 3, p. 211‑220. Reprinted as “Housing MarketsandLabourMarkets in theQuarteredCity,” inJohnAllenandChrisHamnett.1991, Housing and Labour Markets: Building the Connections, London: Unwin Hyman, pp. 118‑135.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1989. “Homelessness and Housing Policy” in Carol Caton, ed., Homeless in America, Oxford University Press, 1989, pp. 138‑159.

 

“Off Site Displacement: How the Changing Economic Tide of a Neighborhood Can Drown Out the Poor,” with Raun Rasmussen and Russel Engler, Clearinghouse Review of National Clearinghouse for Legal Services, vol. 22, No. 11, April 1989, pp. 1352‑70.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1990. Review of Irving Welfeld, Where We Live.       American Political Science Review,  vol 84.

 

“Comprehensive Planning‑‑Not!” [The New York City C.H.A.S.] City Limits, June/July, 1992, p. 22.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1992. “Housing in the Colors of the G.D.R.” in Bengt Turner,  Jozsef Hegedüs, and Ivan Tosics, eds. The Reform of Housing in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. London and New York, Routledge, pp. 74‑144.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1992. “Why Conventional Self-Help Projects Won’t Work.” in Kosta Mathéy, ed. Beyond Self‑Help Housing, London and New York: Mansell,  (Munich, Profil Verlag) pp. 15‑22.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1992. “Gentrification und die wirtschaftliche Umstrukturierung New Yorks.” in Hans G. Helms, hrsg., Die Stadt als Gabentisch: Beobachtungen der Aktuellen Städtebauentwicklung. Reclam, Leipzig

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1994. “Privatization, Tenure, and Property Rights: Towards Clarity in Concepts.” in Berth Danermark and Ingemar Elander, eds. Social Rented Housing in Europe ‑ Policy, Tenure and Design,  The Netherlands, Delft University Press.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1993. “Degentrification and advanced homelessness: New patterns, old processes.” Netherlands Journal of Housing and the Built Environment. vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 177‑192.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1994. “Is Anything Positive to be Learned from the GDR? Cities and Housing in Real Existing Socialism.” in Margy Gerber and Roger Woods, ed., Studies in GDR Culture and Society 13: Understanding the Past, Managing the Future. University Press of America, Lanham, Md., pp. 75‑86.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1994. “Mainstreaming Public Housing: For a Comprehensive Approach to Housing Policy.” Preiser, Wolfgang F. E., David Varady, and Francis Russell, eds. Future Visions of Urban Public Housing. Cincinnati, University of Cincinnati, College of Design, pp. 45-58.

 

Marcuse, Peter, David Burney, and Eftihia Tsitiridis. 1994.“New York City: Historical Perspectives, Current Policy, and Future Planning.” Preiser, Wolfgang F. E., David Varady, and Francis Russell, eds. Future Visions of Urban Public Housing. Cincinnati, University of Cincinnati, College of Design, pp. 59-70..

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1995. “Interpreting ‘Public Housing’ History” Journal of Architectural and Planning Research. Vol. 12, No. 3, Autumn, pp. 240-258.

 

Marcuse, Peter, and Tom Angotti. 1996. “An Isolated US Opposes Housing as a Human Right.” The Planners Network Newsletter, March.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1998. “Mainstreaming Public Housing: Proposal for a Comprehensive Approach to Housing Policy.” in Varady, David P., Wolfgang F.E. Preiser, and Francis P. Russell, New Directions in Urban Public Housing. New Brunswick, N.J.: Center for Urban Policy Research.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1996. “Housing Movements in the United States.” in: Uchida, Katsuichi, and Yosuke Hirayama. 1996. Housing Rights Movements in Comparative Perspective. Vol 5 of Human Settlement and the Right to Housing in Japan. Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, pp. 91-126. (in Japanese)

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1998 “Drugs in Public Housing”. In Willem Van Vliet, ed. The Encyclopedia of Housing. Thousand Oaks, CA.: Sage Publications.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1999. “Housing Movements in the USA” in Housing, Theory and Society, vol 16, pp. 67-86.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 1999. “Comment: Islands of Decay in Seas of Renewal: Housing Policy and the Resurgence of Gentrification.” Housing Policy Debate. vol. 10, # 2, pp. 789-798.

 

“The Liberal-Conservative Divide in the History of Housing Policy in the United States” Housing Studies,  Vol. 16, No. 6, pp. 717-736. 2001.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 2004. “Are Social Forums the Future of Urban Social Movements?”  International Journal of Urban and Regional Research  2005 vol. 29 No. 2, pp. 417-424, with Rejoinder at pp. 444-446. An earlier version at http://www.urbancentre.utoronto.ca/elibrary.html#community

 

Marcuse, Peter. 2004, “Housing on the Defensive.” Practicing Planner, American Institute of Certified Planners, vol. 2, no. 4, 

 

“In Defense of Housing: For the Broader Engagement of Housing Research with Today’s Global Urban Context” Rejkjavik, Iceland, June 2005 http://borg.hi.is/enhr2005iceland/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=14&Itemid=37

 

Marcuse, Peter, with Dennis Keating. 2006 “The Permanent Housing Crisis: The Failures of Conservatism and the Limitations of Liberalism”  In: A Right to Housing: Foundation for a New Social Agenda edited by Rachel G. Bratt, Michael E. Stone and Chester Hartman. Philadelphia: Temple University Press

 

 

Marcuse, Peter. 2005.“The Role of Government in the Housing Sector,” Commissioned paper for Task Force VIII, The Millennium Project, United Nations, New York City..

 

“O Caso Contra os Direitos de Propriedade,” [The Case Against Property Rights] in Marcio Moraes Valenca, ed.,2008, Cidade (i)legal, Rio de Janeiro: Maquad X, pp. 9-20.

 

Marcuse, Peter. “The Housing Change We Need.” Shelterforce, Winter 2008, #156, pp. 26-29.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 2009. “A Critical Approach to the Subprime Mortgage Crisis in the United States: Rethinking the Public Sector in Housing.” City & Community, vol. 8, No. 3,September, pp. 351-357.

Also in

Marcuse, Peter. “The Three Pillars of the Mortgage Foreclosure Crisis – Analysis and Remedies..”  in Christopher Niedt and Marc Silver, eds. Forging a New Housing Policy: Opportunity in the Wake of Crisis. Hofstra University, National Center for Suburban Studies, n.d., pp. 12-16.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 2010. “On Gentrification: A Note from Peter Marcuse” [re: Slater Hamnett exchange]  CITY: Analysis of urban trends, culture, theory, policy, action.” Vol. 14, No. 1 & 2, pp. 187-188, February.

 

Marcuse, Peter. 2011.     “The Heresies in HUD’s Public Housing Policy.” Progressive Planning, Winter 2011, NO 186, pp. 2,26-27.

 

 

 

 

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Untouched issues in DSK case


Three awkward questions in the DSK case:

  1. If any woman who has ever given false information on any matter in the past (immigration status, for example, or maybe even lesser matters) is too unreliable to bring a charge of rape against a sexual molester, is every  such woman fair game to be raped by anyone wishing to do so without any protection at law? In the DSK case, is the complainant fair game for attack by anyone so inclined for forever?
  2. Rape is often a case of her word against his word.  If credibility is to be judged by previous actions, is it only the woman’s credibility that informs the decision as to whether to prosecute, and not the man’s?  In the DSK case, are the many falsities that must have accompanied  Strauss-Kahn’s checkered sexual career  as relevant as the complainant’s?
  3. In the U.S. system of justice, when, where, and by whom is the credibility of a witness to be judged? Where two parties in a criminal proceeding contradict each other, absent compelling evidence as to the facts themselves, is judging credibility not a classic function of a jury in an open trial in a court-room? In the DSK case, is the prosecution pre-empting the jury’s role?

Citizens United and fair elections


To the Editor

The Nation;

In the interesting debate about the First Amendment and the Citizens United decision, one point fails to emerge clearly – and it’s the point the Nation itself has been hammering at on the subject. The issue is one of the spending of money in elections, i.e. campaign finance, not one of what speech is or is not allowable. Both Floyd Abrams and Burt Neuborne seem to see the impact on fair elections as relevant; they argue over whether corporate money influenced the outcome. Abrams cite Democrats reviving $206.4 million and losing, while Republicans garnered only $171.7million and won. Neubirth points out the in 53 of 72 election districts in which corporations backed Republicans, Republicans won.

But that’s not the point. A little story: Joe Lieberman is considering whether to run for Senate again, and if so with which party or as an independent. How will he decide “If I decide to run, I’ve really got to start the work of raising money?” So money will decide what he does. The desperate and on-going search for money influences both parties as well as prospective challengers, and it moves them all to similar positions on basic issues of concern to money, particularly to big contributors. Whether it comes from General Electric or the Koch brothers, the role of money ought to be limited if we are to have fair democratic elections. Neuborne makes the point when he decries the impact of “the sense of obligation—or fear—generated by huge independent political expenditures.”

That’s the problem, not free speech, or whether corporations are people. Let’s focus on that.

Peter Marcuse

Government Workers Appreciation Day


To the editor,
Isn’t it time for a Government Workers Appreciation Day?
We often are dismayed by what’s wrong with government: inefficiency, high costs, big deficits, pressure on our taxes. But we sometimes phrase that as “them against us,” government taking money out of our pockets for their multifarious purposes. But government is, in the end, us, not someone else. We use government to do for us what we cannot individually do for ourselves: plow the snow off the roads, police the city so there are no break-ins, rescue those hurt in accidents, put out fires, bring children hurt sledding to hospitals and care for them, monitor safety of what we eat, try criminals and punish them if they’re guilty, release them if innocent, and on and on. If any of these things were to be done privately, of course we’d expect to pay for them; how can we expect government to provide them if we don’t pay for them? So we pay taxes, and we should pay taxes, for all the services we get.

And government employees are not all lazy, greedy animals feeding off the public trough. They’re overwhelmingly our neighbors, working hard, often in the cold and through the night, doing difficult and often dangerous work often giving up the possibility of much higher paying jobs in the interests of serving the public, us. They deserve our thanks, not our opprobrium. They shouldn’t be made the scapegoats for the public deficits we face because we understandably resist the necessity of raising taxes. Compared to the bankers who draw down millions of dollars in salaries and bonuses for taking our money on deposit and lending it to others at good interests rates and speculating with what they have, keeping all the profit for their own personal enrichment. Compared to them – those a the top, not the typical bank teller – public employees are saints.

Wouldn’t it be appropriate, after the major effort dedicated to the recent snow emergency, to say thank you to the workers that helped us overcome it and the government for which they worked, our government – and shouldn’t we expect to pay, fairly (more by those that can afford it, less by those who can’t), for what is done by them and it on our behalf?
Peter Marcuse
P.S. Maybe both the populist tea party supporters and the old-fashioned liberals could agree on such a day?

Who IS Responsible for Loughlin Shooting Gifford?


 

Analyzing the shooting of Gabby Gifford and its relationship to political rhetoric, it is useful to divide the issues into three

  1. Did political rhetoric bring Jared Loughlin to attempt to kill Gabby Gifford?

Answer: No. Jared Loughlin was mentally unbalanced, and had a potential to commit violent acts as such, whose targets might have ranged from personal acquaintances, sexual partners, parents, or anyone seen as worthy of attack or any one of a broad palette of reasons.

  1. Did political rhetoric play a role in bringing Jared Louglin to attempt to kill Gabby Gifford?

Answer: Yes. Loughlin was potentially rife to kill someone. Who? Personal relationships might have produced a target; but social, including political, relationships were also on the palette of reasons for him to act. These might have included any one of a large number of “causes” in which extreme hostility to members of specific groups played a role, from religious fanatics to the extreme among social value defenders (e.g. anti-abortionists, anti-gays) to liberals seen as unAmericans to communists. The rhetoric of extreme tea party leaders was on the palette of causes from which Loughlin was exposed that might justify his inchoate propensity to kill.

  1. Did political rhetoric and use of violence as a political tool play a role in directly exposing Gabby Gifford to attempts on her life?

Answer: Yes. Not as to Laughlin’s particular attack, but certainly as to a set of attacks on her in Tucson, of which Loughlin’s was probably an accidental if not coincidental outcome. There are those that in fact advocate and practice violence as a political strategy, very conspicuously in many other countries, occasionally here. Her office had been shot at, her opponent had called for guns to be brought to and celebrated at is rallies; the language of violence used by some was easily transmuted into an advocacy of violence by others, even if outside the speakers’ direct intention.

Thus Jared Loughlin’s attack on Gabby Gifford was not “caused” by political rhetoric. But such rhetoric was on the pallets of many possible outlets for is psychic propensity to kill, one to which Gabby Gifford was particularly exposed. And the attack on her was a pat, at an extreme end, of those that in fact advocated violence against their political opponents of spoke in ways that could easily be interpreted as such advocacy.

Gaby Gifford shooting


Is the Tea Party to Blame for Gabrielle Gifford’s Shooting?

Does “the tea party” share responsibility for the murder of Gabrielle Gifford? No; the majority of its members are honest, sincere, people, concerned about family values, worried about their economic security and sometimes their physical safety, troubled by the direction government is going in and how it seems to be responding to bankers and hedge-fund managers more than to ordinary people. And they are normally peaceful, if often excitable, and usually in ways healthy for a vibrant democracy.

But there are leaders and backers of the tea party movement that do not fit this description. They are very well to do, and include millionaires and at least one billionaire. They include ambitious politicians hoping to get votes by playing on other people’s (not their own) insecurities. They are willing to use anti-immigrant prejudice and latent racism to whip up support for their own agenda, which has more to do with giving business free reign to make profits any way it can, keeping the million-dollar incomes and multi-million dollar estates of the very wealthy from any fair level of taxation, and in their own special interest appealing to the frustrations of those who listen to them to incite aggressive and unthinking reflex reactions in support of their selfish agendas.

The tea parties as such, and the large number of their supporters, I believe, cannot and should not be implicated in the killing of Gabrielle Gifford.  Nor is it fair to accuse any of its leaders of personally wishing that Gabby Gifford be shot, or intentionally encouraging such action. But those leaders and self-proclaimed spokespersons for the tea party that proclaim the end of the American way of life if any of the programs of the “liberals” are enacted, who speak of their opponents as unAmerican and liars if not traitors, who cry out for the preservation of an endangered American way of life by, implicitly, any means necessary, who consistently use millennial language to make defeating a political position a matter of life or death, who call on their supporters to come to their rallies bearing arms, who see government as evil and hostile, that bear some responsibility for events like this abominable killing.

It is not a question of accusing anyone of wanting the Tucson shooting or inciting it. It is rather a question of asking those who have ratcheted up the discourse (and that is certainly a more one-sided than evenly-located group) to stop and reflect, to examine their own language, to attempt to assess the benefits and costs of their approach to political issues. Had they been preaching tolerance and the legitimacy of opposing points of view, it might not have prevented Jared  Loughlin from killing someone, but might have made it less likely. And, in terms of who would get shot it is not a coincidence that Loughlin lived in Arizona, that he listened to over-blown rhetoric, that his environment was one of anger, hostility, fostering aggressive and hostile attitudes and behavior in matters of public discussion. The connection deserves reflection, introspection, perhaps some modesty and perhaps some changes in language and behavior. And of course in gun control legislation: Loughlin bought his bullet clip at Walmart!

It is time for the tea party to acknowledge that we still live in a great democracy, that our government is one elected by the people, even if by procedures that could bear improvement, and that the end of the world is not about to descend if this or that form of health care legislation is passed, if some people are allowed to marry who wouldn’t have asked it a hundred years ago, if there are real differences of opinion as to how the Constitution should be interpreted. Reasonable people can, and should, differ on all kinds of things in a democracy. Those leaders of the tea party that see an evil conspiracy behind any disagreement should be rejected by the honest tea party adherents. In an atmosphere of mutual respect and honest dialogue on matters of public importance, the shooting of Gabrielle Gifford would have been much less likely.

Blog #1a – Towards a Comprehensive Housing Policy


Towards a Comprehensive Housing Policy – Outline Draft

I.

Certain variables need to be taken into account in designing immediate steps to deal with the consequences of mortgage foreclosures. Some depend on a careful evaluation of the specific conditions of each case; others are essentially policy decisions depending on the criteria considered in determining objectives of the program.

As to specific situational variables, some or all of the following factors might need to be considered:

1.     The strength of the private market;

2.     The physical characteristics of the housing: single or multiple family, lot   size, need for renovation

3.     The nature of ownership, stage in foreclosure of units

4.     Neighborhood density of problems

5.     Organization of participants

6.     Prevalence of fraud and predatory lending

As to criteria chosen as desired, a formulation such as the following might be appropriate:

The following provisions should only apply to mortgages on homes under a specified ceiling value, perhaps $250-,000S 300,000, varying by area depending on area housing costs, and for occupants under a specified income  and wealth level, established in relation to prevailing housing costs in the area as routinely established by HUD.

1.               Prevent Evictions

On an emergency basis, there should simply be a national moratorium on evictions, for a specified time, with the permanent provision, common among civilized nations, that no household may be evicted if there is a showing that there is no other accommodation available to them meeting adequate standards of occupancy.

2.               Force  Renegotiation of Excessive Mortgage

Where a home occupant is able to pay a reasonable mortgage on reasonable terms, but has entered into an unreasonable mortgage, give a bankruptcy court the power to rewrite the terms of the mortgage, short-term balloon payments, adjustable mortgages geared to unrealistic expectations, etc. Do not subsidize mortgagors to permit them to continue payments on mortgages. Such subsidies run to the benefit of the bank or mortgage holder, whose inadequate professional appraisal and processing of the loan permitted to the difficulty to occur, and should bear the consequences of that failure.

3.               Increase regulation of mortgage-backed securities

Some argue that securitization of mortgages is itself a cause of the present foreclosure crisis. That is true to only a limited extent: by obscuring the valuation of the underlying security, d, behind a cloud of interim investors the numerous other mortgages of different origins and also unreviewed valuation, the ultimate investor has inadequate information on which to act, and ends up investing simply on the generalized belief that mortgages must be sound investments because they are in real estate which will always go up in the long run.

But given adequate oversight over the valuation of the underlying mortgages, something already done by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac,, and in the implementation of CRA requirements,[1] it is desirable to have a secondary market in mortgages, and the broader a capital market is brought into the picture, the better.  The underlying problem is that housing is being treated as a commodity, and hence financed in reliance on its exchange value, rather than its necessity, Thus, whether a mortgage is securitized or not, if the exchange value goes down and the occupant has a large mortgage on it,, the occupant will be in trouble. That is true whether a bank r other lender owns it or an investor in China.

Securitization, as far as housing is concerned, is simply a smokescreen that accentuates and conceals the real problem of the commodification of housing.

4.               Permit foreclosures while protecting occupants.

Subject to the prohibition of evictions as above, if a mortgage is at a figure substantially over the value of a house, i.e. where the occupant is “under water,” permit a managed foreclosure and sale, without reimbursing the lender for any loss that may have resulted from its excessive loan but explicitly permitting the occupant to remain in occupancy under one of the alternate tenure forms discussed in Para. 5.

5.               Provide for alternate forms of tenure for foreclosed properties.

Provide for government purchase of foreclosed property or property at risk of foreclosure (up to a specified dollar limit and with consideration of special circumstances) for transfer to non-profit ownership or public housing, with provision for continued occupancy by the previous owner

Establish guidelines for the creation of alternate forms of tenure, including non-speculative home ownership,  limited equity coops, community land trusts, and tenant-managed public housing, and provide funding for research, legal work, and administrative costs to non-profit entities willing to develop and/or implement such alternatives. Within the various governmental programs of subsidy and support, give priority to grants directed to the support of such endeavors. Provide general financial support and enabling legislation as needed for the formation and operation of land trusts, coops, condominium associations, , mutual housing association–provided that the following conditions are met:

a. no profit on sale or from rental,

b. a right to pass on to family when occupant vacates, but otherwise a collective selection of successor occupant with guidelines for continuing availability and affordability for those in need, within specified income categories

Where appropriate andf no effective private land trust exists, stablish municipal land trusts, with general operating administrative expenses covered by local government, to take the initiative in implementing the above programs

6.               Empower public housing authorities to play an active role.

Public Housing Authorities have long experience in the management of housing, and their abilities should be enlisted in the management, and sometimes in the ownership, of foreclosed homes. They need to be provided with adequate funds for that purpose; it may be that the existing funding formula for public housing need only be tweaked to make this possible.[2]

7.               Community-based planning

Planning for the treatment of properties in or threatened with foreclosure should be in local hands, subject to Federal guidelines. Where local bodies exist, e.g. Community Boards in New York City, those bodies should be given primary authority and responsibility for the implementation of Federal policy, and the discretion to tailor such policies to local circumstances and desires, democratically developed.

8.               Public funding.

Provide guaranteed continuing subsidies to all those paying more than 25% of their Expand substantially funding for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

Expand substantially the amount of money available to purchase foreclosed homes, and provide for their continued non-speculative ownership for the benefit of their present occupants  and future households in need of housing.

9.               Provide for local democratic participatory bodies to participate in the management of all Stimulus funds.

Planning for the treatment of properties in or threatened with foreclosure should be in local hands, subject to Federal guidelines. Where local bodies exist, e.g. Community Boards in New York City, those bodies should be given primary authority and responsibility for the implementation of Federal policy, and the discretion to tailor such policies to local circumstances and desires, democratically developed.

10.            Anti-warehousing and condo conversion legislation.

Legislation against warehousing of residential units, modeled after but stronger than New York City Council legislation (instigated by Picture the Homeless) that would provide for requisitioning of empty units for the homeless.

11.            Expiring subsidies

A right of purchase for present residents of housing built with now-expiring subsidies in Federal and state programs, at a price permitting a limited return on equity to commercial owners, and a continuing subsidy as needed after purchase.

12.            National Housing Trust Fund

Support for the National Housing Trust Fund, with earmarked source of funds to subsidize affordable housing construction, emphasizing low-income housing.

13.            Rent regulation

Strengthen rent regulation where it exists, and new regulations where it doesn’t.

14.            Gentrification

Anti–gentrification legislation designed to preserve what affordable housing there is., through a combination of zoning, building regulations regulatilng modernization, rent regulation, and subsidies.

15.            Taxes

Some combination of anti-speculation taxes (taxes with high rates on profits made after property is held for one year or less, reducing slowly over x years), flip taxes, and windfall profits taxes, with proceeds earmarked for housing purposes State action on this objective will be key.


[1] Other experience with regulation may be found in: Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, The Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974, the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act of 1975, as well as the broader community Reinvestment Act of 1977. But in the end, deregulation did not cause the problem; it merely allowed it to metastasize. The existence of what needs to be regulated is the problem.

[2]