Tag Archives: poverty

Overcrowding and Housing

9 Mar

When I read this article on overcrowded housing in the Los Angeles Times yesterday, it brought me right back to 1996, when I knocked on perhaps a hundred doors in Northwest Pasadena to invite children to join our vacation Bible school.

To have a conversation, I would often sit on the bottom bed of a set of bunk sleepers, while other families members did the same.  All of us crooking our necks so as not to hit our heads on the bunk above. No space for a couch or even in some cases for a table and chairs. One home I visited had 10 families.

Later, for my doctoral work I interviewed seven gang kids, seeking to discern why they entered gangs. Overcrowding was one of the issues; kids often found their sense of place in the streets.

Segregated housing and students being placed in special education were some of the other reasons, which challenged my assumptions. I had thought the core issue had more to do with family issues. What do you think? Jill Shook http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-crowding-20140308,0,6827011.story#axzz2vUJWN1Hf

Making Housing Happen book review in Friends Journal

6 Feb

"This is the kind of fast day I'm after: to break the chains of injustice, get rid of exploitation in the workplace, free the oppressed..." --Isaiah 58:6I was excited to have Making Housing Happen reviewed in the January issue of Friends Journal. Published by Friends Publishing Corporation, the journal serves the Quaker and wider communities through “articles, poetry, letters, art, and news that convey the contemporary experience of Friends.”

The book reviewer is Diane Randall, former executive director of the Partnership for Strong Communities, a Connecticut-based nonprofit focusing on affordable and supportive housing. Diane, who is now executive secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation, writes:

How do people get caught up in the issue of affordable housing? Some do because they are poor and in need of a home that is safe and affordable, some because they see economic and environmental injustice played out in poor neighborhoods, and they are called to address it.

In the second edition of Making Housing Happen: Faith-Based Affordable Housing Models, editor Jill Suzanne Shook addresses reasons why people of faith engage in the long-term commitment to create affordable housing that builds stronger communities. This book will resonate with those of us who have sought to justify zoning laws for housing density that make homes more affordable, those who have lobbied for independent apartments for people who have been chronically homeless, or those who have used any other approach that allows people to have a place to call home. Builders who have volunteered sweat equity on projects for first-time homeowners will also be interested….

You can read the full review on the Friends Journal website.

Photo: cc by Matti Mattila

Saving Public Housing?

30 Jan

My friend Diane Miller, who just finished reading my book, made some nice comments. “I just finished reading MHH and was so encouraged by it. I love all of the tangible examples of what people are doing around the country.” I’m quite impressed with Diane’s efforts to save some public housing in Chicago. See the link below for more information about the work that she is doing.


With changing national policy, many public housing developments have been torn down.This is a good thing, but it has many unintended consequences of displacing residents. The HOPE VI funding is creating wonderful mixed income communities, but many of us feel that there is a need to retain some public housing. What do you think?

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