EXCERPT: "We believe housing is a right, and that communities are more important than commodities." - Gianpaolo Baiocchi

Laura Flanders: Housing affordability and power by design, this week on the show Monique George of Picture The Homeless and Gianpolo by Yorkie of the New York University Urban Democracy Lab, argue that a truly just housing policy requires a shift in power. Then from our Ted Women's Series, two architects who are combating the effects of gentrification and serving low income communities through innovative design. It's all coming up on the Laura Flanders Show, the place where the people who say it can't be done, take a back seat to the people who are doing it. Welcome.

Housing stress, it's a part of life for millions of people. If someone isn't experiencing it, they likely know someone who is. So states a new report by the Homes For All Campaign of The Right to City Alliance. Decades of leaving matters of housing to the market or to politicians or landlords just isn't securing housing for everyone who needs it. A new land ownership structure just might help. Models exist here and around the world. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has put some financing behind new community land trusts, the British labor parties housing plan includes a million new homes and affordability to find by prevailing incomes not rents.

In many places is an election year, so by why criteria should housing policies be judged? Our guests know this topic from the inside out. Gianpaolo Baiocchi is director of the Urban Democracy Lab at NYU and the lead author of Community over Commodities Report, I just quoted. Monique "Mo" George is the Executive Director of Picture The Homeless, which was very involved in this report. She also describes herself as a proud product of public housing herself. Welcome both of you to the program, glad to have you. When you say Communities Over Commodities, what do you mean? Gianpaolo.

Gianpaolo B.: So in this report we wanted to take stock of the discussion we've been having among social movements and advocates of housing, and think from a sort of big picture way, what do we stand for? And what kind of housing do we want? And it came down to a values question. We believe that housing is a right, and we believe that communities are more important than commodities, which is to say, we want to think about the right to housing first before talking about public policy discussions about what works and what doesn't, sort of ... The title says it. It's a values question. We believe housing is a right and we think that thinking outside of the market structure is really important.

Laura Flanders: Now, values have been mostly tied with buy and sell values, the commodity value. Where has that brought us? How do you describe the situation that we're in Mo?

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Monique George: So I think it's gotten us to the point where the value has gotten such that it has actually pushed folks away from it. If you look across New York City and you see these amazing, beautiful buildings going up but they're far beyond tons and tons of folks reach.

Laura Flanders: Yeah we're talking multi million dollar penthouses.

Monique George: Exactly, exactly. And so, you then look and see, is housing really a human right? Right? I mean, that's our thinking from the movement side but then when you see that vast amount of people are being displaced, when I see an increase of folks coming into our office looking for services, needing help with assistance, trying to find affordable housing or either being evicted or on the verge of getting evicted from communities that they are based in and then you look at those communities and see these towering, skyscrapers of beautiful multi million homes or even 4 and $5000 dollar rental homes, you think that, okay we're the only ones saying housing is a human right but does the city actually embody that?

Laura Flanders: Mm. What kind of numbers are we talking about?

Monique George: So I think if we had to ... So for us, right? The city says 67,000 people sleep in shelters every night. We, on our side that, that number is significantly more because you're actually talking about folks who have gone into a shelter, you're not talking about street homers, you're not talking couch surfers, you're not talking about people who are double to tripled up at NYCHA. So I think our estimation, if you look at the whole breadth of the universe of that, it's probably pretty close to over 100,000 people.


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