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Housing in Crisis

Convenor

David Jenkis; david.jenkins@otago.ac.nz

Katy Wells; Katy.Wells@warwick.ac.uk


Whether it is in the global south, where approximately a billion people live in slums with minimal access to basic services, in the United States where over half a million people are recognized as homeless, or in parts of Europe where degraded rental legislation has eroded tenants’ rights, often in the shadow of gentrification and increasingly unaffordable housing, crises in housing have increasingly come to shape the lives of a great many people. It is perhaps somewhat surprising then that although a great deal of attention has been given to related issues of poverty, inequality and property, that legal, social and political theorists and ethicists have not yet given much attention to the important normative questions that are thrown up by housing.

The aim of this panel is to begin to address these questions. What injustices are associated with present-day housing crises, and with specific dimensions of these crises, such as homelessness and gentrification? What is the importance of housing, and what does that imply for the kinds of rights we should be able to exercise over housing? Do we have a human right to housing, and, if so, what does it consist in? How does housing justice connect with other areas of justice?

An important feature of present-day housing crises is that they often reflect the different functions that housing can perform – particularly, that housing is viewed both as a home – a place of intimacy and belonging – and as providing financial opportunities as a capital investment, a retirement fund, and so on. We also welcome submissions that address this dimension of housing, that is, that consider the wider implications of, and the appropriateness of, housing’s dual role as personal and productive property.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Understanding the different forms of housing injustice: Tenant precarity in the west, compared to the injustices in the global south, such as slums, absence of rule of law, etc.
  • Developing normative frameworks for understanding the possible harms of gentrification.
  • The harms of homelessness, including the specifically social harms of homelessness.
  • The different theoretical frameworks through which to understand meaning of home and the values served by ‘being homed’.
  • Our entitlements to housing, including the rights we should exercise over housing.
  • The human right to housing.
  • The relation between capital markets in real estate, urban development and housing injustice.
  • Philosophical consideration of different regimes of ownership, including analysis of the benefits of collective ownership in the form of municipal housing.
  • Connections between housing and other related rights.
  • The history of housing rights, and the various normative frameworks that have been used to understand those rights.
  • The challenges of suburbanization, especially in relation to democracy, public space and environmental sustainability.