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Books and Publications on the Housing Crisis

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Author: Shane Phillips

The Affordable City

Strategies for Putting Housing Within Reach (and Keeping it There)


From Los Angeles to Boston and Chicago to Miami, US cities are struggling to address the twin crises of high housing costs and household instability. Debates over the appropriate course of action have been defined by two poles: building more housing or enacting stronger tenant protections. These options are often treated as mutually exclusive, with support for one implying opposition to the other.

Shane Phillips believes that effectively tackling the housing crisis requires that cities support both tenant protections and housing abundance. He offers readers more than 50 policy recommendations, beginning with a set of principles and general recommendations that should apply to all housing policy. The remaining recommendations are organized by what he calls the Three S’s of Supply, Stability, and Subsidy. Phillips makes a moral and economic case for why each is essential and recommendations for making them work together.

There is no single solution to the housing crisis—it will require a comprehensive approach backed by strong, diverse coalitions. The Affordable City is an essential tool for professionals and advocates working to improve affordability and increase community resilience through local action.

Author: William Fulton

Place and Prosperity

How Cities Help Us to Connect and Innovate


There are few more powerful questions than, “Where are you from” or “Where do you live?” People feel intensely connected to cities as places and to other people who feel that same connection. In order to understand place - and understand human settlements generally - it is important to understand that places are not created by accident. They are created in order to further a political or economic agenda. Better cities emerge when the people who shape them think more broadly and consciously about the places they are creating. In Place and Prosperity: How Cities Help Us to Connect and Innovate, urban planning expert William Fulton takes an engaging look at the process by which these decisions about places are made, how cities are engines of prosperity, and how place and prosperity are deeply intertwined. Fulton has been writing about cities over his forty-year career that includes working as a journalist, professor, mayor, planning director, and the director of an urban think tank in one of America’s great cities. Place and Prosperity is a curated collection of his writings with new and updated selections and framing material.

Though the essays in Place and Prosperity are in some ways personal, drawing on Fulton’s experience in learning and writing about cities, their primary purpose is to show how these two ideas - place and prosperity - lie at the heart of what a city is and, by extension, what our society is all about. Fulton shows how, over time, a successful place creates enduring economic assets that don’t go away and lay the groundwork for prosperity in the future. But for urbanism to succeed, all of us have to participate in making cities great places for everybody. Because cities, imposing though they may be as physical environments, don’t work without us.

Cities are resilient. They’ve been buffeted over the decades by White flight, decay, urban renewal, unequal investment, increasingly extreme weather events, and now the worst pandemic in a century, and they’re still going strong. Fulton shows that at their best, cities not only inspire and uplift us, but they make our daily life more convenient, more fulfilling - and more prosperous.

Author: Richard Rothstein

The Color of Law

A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America


New York Times Bestseller • Notable Book of the Year • Editors' Choice Selection
One of Bill Gates’ “Amazing Books” of the Year
One of Publishers Weekly’s 10 Best Books of the Year
Longlisted for the National Book Award for Nonfiction
An NPR Best Book of the Year
Winner of the Hillman Prize for Nonfiction
Gold Winner • California Book Award (Nonfiction)
Finalist • Los Angeles Times Book Prize (History)
Finalist • Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize

This “powerful and disturbing history” exposes how American governments deliberately imposed racial segregation on metropolitan areas nationwide (New York Times Book Review).

Widely heralded as a “masterful” (Washington Post) and “essential” (Slate) history of the modern American metropolis, Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law offers “the most forceful argument ever published on how federal, state, and local governments gave rise to and reinforced neighborhood segregation” (William Julius Wilson). Exploding the myth of de facto segregation arising from private prejudice or the unintended consequences of economic forces, Rothstein describes how the American government systematically imposed residential segregation: with undisguised racial zoning; public housing that purposefully segregated previously mixed communities; subsidies for builders to create whites-only suburbs; tax exemptions for institutions that enforced segregation; and support for violent resistance to African Americans in white neighborhoods. A groundbreaking, “virtually indispensable” study that has already transformed our understanding of twentieth-century urban history (Chicago Daily Observer), The Color of Law forces us to face the obligation to remedy our unconstitutional past.

Author: Jenny Schuetz


How to Repair America's Broken Housing Systems


Fixer-Upper is the first book assessing how the broad set of local, state, and national housing policies affect people and communities. It does more than describe how yesterday’s policies led to today’s problems. It proposes practical policy changes than can make stable, decent-quality housing more available and affordable for all Americans in all communities.

Author: James Baldwin

The Fire Next Time


NATIONAL BESTSELLER • The book that galvanized the nation, gave voice to the emerging civil rights movementin the 1960s—and still lights the way to understanding race in America today. • "The finest essay I’ve ever read.” —Ta-Nehisi Coates

At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin's early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document from the iconic author of If Beale Street Could Talk and Go Tell It on the Mountain. It consists of two "letters," written on the occasion of the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation, that exhort Americans, both black and white, to attack the terrible legacy of racism. 

Described by The New York Times Book Review as "sermon, ultimatum, confession, deposition, testament, and chronicle … all presented in searing, brilliant prose," The Fire Next Time stands as a classic of literature.

Author: Avi Friedman

The Grow Home


With economic restructuring, demographic shifts, and lifestyle changes, the traditional family - working father, stay-at-home mother, two to three children - is no longer the norm and the need for smaller homes at moderate cost has skyrocketed. The first prototype of the Grow Home was built on the campus of McGill University in 1990 and more than one thousand units were built across North America and Europe in the first year alone. In this illustrated guide, Friedman describes the background, conception, and construction of these modest (14" x 36") homes. He details their construction for prospective owners, builders, and architects, showing how past and contemporary precedents have been transformed and how the first versions were adapted by the building industry. Visits to completed Grow Homes shed light on why such homes were purchased and the process by which they "grew." Friedman also shows how the design has been adapted for prefabrication to meet the needs of the developing world. He describes the contribution that small-unit design makes to saving valuable natural resources and shares his experiences in planning communities based on the Grow Home. The Grow Home reveals the development and history of a concept that revolutionizes the home and building industry, has been translated into over 10,000 housing units, and has received, among many accolades, the United Nations World Habitat Award.

Described by The New York Times Book Review as "sermon, ultimatum, confession, deposition, testament, and chronicle … all presented in searing, brilliant prose," The Fire Next Time stands as a classic of literature.

Author: Faith Fowler

Tiny Homes In a Big City


Tiny Homes In a Big City, by Reverend Faith Fowler is the story of Cass Community Social Services, a Detroit based nonprofit that is in the process of building a neighborhood of 25 different Tiny Homes in the northwest part of the city. The homes are being built to allow extremely low-income individuals a way to eventually own their own homes. This is the only rent-then-own tiny home development in the United States.

In Detroit, the qualifying residents will have a combination of experiences; formerly homeless people, senior citizens, young adults who have aged out of foster care and a few Cass Community Social Service staff members, all with annual incomes of between $8,000 and $14,000. Like its residents, each tiny home is architecturally unique, no two being built exactly the same.

Detroit’s tiny home residents will initially rent the homes for $1.00 per square foot, per month. With the homes ranging from approximately 250-400 square feet each; no resident will pay more than a third of his/her income. After seven years of timely rent payments program participation, the individuals will own their homes and property which are expected to be valued between $40,000 and $50,000 each.

In Tiny Homes In a Big City, Reverend Fowler, Executive Director of Cass Community Social Services, responds to inquiries from other nonprofits and government officials who seek to replicate the Detroit program. She explains how the decision to build the Tiny Homes was made, provides a comparison with other organizations that have used tiny houses for people experiencing homelessness, explains the philosophy behind their plan and offers the logistics of building the homes - from the idea’s infancy through occupation. The book also provides online feedback, positive, negative and que

Author: Myron Orfield

American Metropolitics

The New Suburban Reality


In 1998, Myron Orfield introduced a revolutionary program for combating the seemingly inevitable decline of America's metropolitan communities. Through a combination of demographic research, state-of-the-art mapping, and resourceful, pragmatic politics, his groundbreaking book, Metropolitics, revealed how the different regions of St. Paul and Minneapolis pulled together to create a regional government powerful enough to tackle the community's problems of sprawl and urban decay. Orfield's new work, American Metropolitics, applies the next generation of cutting-edge research on a much broader scale. The book provides an eye-opening analysis of the economic, racial, environmental, and political trends of the 25 largest metropolitan regions in the United States—which contain more than 45 percent of the U.S. population. Using detailed maps and case studies, Orfield demonstrates that growing social separation and wasteful sprawling development patterns are harming regional citizens wherever they live.

With detailed maps of conditions in each metropolitan region, comprehensive data on existing conditions and voter attitudes, and bold, innovative strategies for change, American Metropolitics is an important book for anyone concerned with the future of our cities and suburbs.

Author: Conor Dougherty

Golden Gates

Fighting for Housing in America


A Time 100 Must-Read Book of 2020• A New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice• California Book Award Silver Medal in Nonfiction Finalist for The New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism Named a top 30 must-read Book of 2020 by the New York Post• Named one of the 10 Best Business Books of 2020 by Fortune• Named A Must-Read Book of 2020 by Apartment Therapy• Runner-Up General Nonfiction: San Francisco Book Festival• A Planetizen Top Urban Planning Book of 2020• Shortlisted for the Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice

“Tells the story of housing in all its complexity.” —NPR

Spacious and affordable homes used to be the hallmark of American prosperity. Today, however, punishing rents and the increasingly prohibitive cost of ownership have turned housing into the foremost symbol of inequality and an economy gone wrong. Nowhere is this more visible than in the San Francisco Bay Area, where fleets of private buses ferry software engineers past the tarp-and-plywood shanties of the homeless. The adage that California is a glimpse of the nation’s future has become a cautionary tale.

With propulsive storytelling and ground-level reporting, New York Times journalist Conor Dougherty chronicles America’s housing crisis from its West Coast epicenter, peeling back the decades of history and economic forces that brought us here and taking readers inside the activist movements that have risen in tandem with housing costs.

Author: Oliver Lyle

A Valley Too Far

A Jazz Novel Based on a True Story


Jazz is an American as apple pie, and the world is a big place. But how far around the world should one jazz musician go for a homecoming? This is a novel about Myles Andrews, an expatriate jazz bassist living abroad who, after his long journey back to his motherland, needed a United States federal civil rights court jury to determine if he traveled A Valley Too Far. It is a story which highlights a police racial profiling case, ultimately played out in a courtroom, all against a jazz backdrop. Justice can't read music, so your name doesn't have to be Uncle Sam to play it again!

Author: Greater Minnesota Housing Fund

Building Better Neighborhoods

Creating Affordable Homes and Livable Communities

Program Goal: Stabilize and revitalize Minnesota’s traditional mixed-income neighborhoods.

In the early 2000s, Minnesota was in the middle of a housing crisis – one marked by strong job growth and high housing costs. In this environment, Greater Minnesota Housing Fund launched the Building Better Neighborhoods program, which provided practical solutions for increasing the supply of affordable housing while reviving traditional and compact neighborhood design with better access to services and amenities.

The concepts of Building Better Neighborhoods are captured in GMHF’s in-depth book, Building Better Neighborhoods.With detailed maps of conditions in each metropolitan region, comprehensive data on existing conditions and voter attitudes, and bold, innovative strategies for change, American Metropolitics is an important book for anyone concerned with the future of our cities and suburbs.

Also see: Rebuilding Better Neighborhoods

Since Building Better Neighborhoods was published, small cities and towns have had to pull themselves out of a crisis of disinvestment in their traditional neighborhoods during the Great Recession. Communities have had to recover from the lack of investment with the goal of becoming economically stable and healthy.

Greater Minnesota Housing Fund’s latest Rebuilding Better Neighborhoods program now focuses on offering the essential tools, techniques and special funding needed to stabilize and rebuild core neighborhoods. In this area GMHF is focusing particularly on core downtown Main Street revitalization in existing neighborhoods. The Rebuilding Better Neighborhoods program emphasizes methods for:

  • Targeted neighborhood-based planning and design.
  • Green and healthy home rehabilitation.
  • Strategic demolition of blighted properties.
  • Well designed new “infill” homes.
  • Attractive mixed-use redevelopment projects.
  • Stimulation of private sector reinvestment.
  • Formation of public-private partnerships.

In 2019 GMHF released Rebuilding Better Neighborhoods, an overview of innovative projects across Minnesota.