Urban Homesteading

GAZETTE _UPDATE | Introduction text

Here’s the edited version of the introduction, according to the last review comments; we’ll upload the conclusion text and the gazette draft with all the contents as well as soon as possible :

There’s a story of Homesteading movement in USA. It’s a story of important achievements in urban renewal and redevelopment. It’s a story in which homesteading programs, issued in many cities in the States, have been at the same time a chance for low income families to achieve their right to dwelling, and on the other to restore tax productivity in those neighborhood affected by decline and abandonment.
Beneath this story, many others, though. These are made by fights and struggles, mostly without a happy end. Different stories, where the protagonists are the urgency and even the desperation of poor people in need for a home. Urgency, because housing issues involve more than economic aspects of daily life; it deals with the security and stability required so that individuals can move beyond focusing on basic daily survival needs. Desperation, because this story doesn’t come without tragedy. The problem of affordable housing speaks mainly about real people, not economical financial abstractions. Squatting, homelessness, vacancy shouldn’t be seen as the diseases urban homesteading is meant to solve, but rather as symtomps of a broader problem unfolding the whole history of United States.
More can be done in assessing more inclusive and comprehensive goals to each of the actors involved in such programs. How can we improve homesteading? Is there something we can learn from different experiences for affordable housing? Looking to different strategies in different contexts doesn’t pretend to find solutions ready-to-use, because it comes with its limitations in number of examples, incompleteness of argumentation and estrangement from U.S. context. Looking trough these experiences throughout the world tries to give the chance to point back the spotlight onto the core of the problem. Housing problem can not restrict itself to a matter of economies, but as well of sustenance and quality of life. Surely a building can be monetized; a dwelling can’t, because it embodies a primary basic need for people’s daily sustenance.
Land value, tax income or financial models aren’t enough to circumscribe the topic. Themes like sustainable models of building, social mix, health and social services have to implemented. In this way this short collection of case studies – awarded by independent housing research foundations – gives an overview of several topics, often underestimated (or completely forgotten) by the debate concerning inclusive housing models.
Another aim of this research is to show how housing issue can not be delegated. Communitarian models and social aggregation should be the actual engine for solving the problem. The most affecting and successful experiences are those which push for a collective dimension among the individuals involved in the program.
At this point, if a new input has to be given to Urban Homesteading movement, several milestones are identified. The core message is that homesteading model has not to become a real estate model, and that the first step to be accomplished is self-organization and aggregation of the people who needs housing, as the community can bear challenges that an individual couldn’t.

Alberto & Ferhat

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