Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Writing for Global Urbanist on US informal housing

The first installment is posted of a series I'm writing for Global Urbanist about informal housing in the United States.

Global Urbanist is an international online journal with a focus on informal economies and informal housing in cities worldwide. The editor, Kerwin Datu, kindly invited me to contribute after a comment I posted about the U.S. refusal to recognize makeshift housing as housing.

As my article says, it's strange that, here in the United States, communities of vehicles, tents and shelters are labeled as "encampments" of "homeless" people even when the residents have lived there longer, and know the neighborhood far better, than nearby residents of authorized homes.

More articles to follow on the larger U.S. picture: the nationwide rash of anti-camping laws and raids, and my strong feeling that informal housing should be discussed and distinguished separately from "homelessness" as literal lack of shelter.

It has been a powerful source of attitude adjustment to be writing seriously for a serious, sympathetic international audience about a kind of living that, in the U.S., is a subject of polemic, condescension or jocularity more often than clear-eyed analysis.

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