Book Review

“Currently, the contours of the housing system are determined by a relatively small elite. As a result, the scale of inequality and injustice in the housing system is not widely acknowledged. We should not see these as unfortunate but random facts. That the basic shape of the housing system is not on any mainstream political agenda is a sign of the power of economic and political elites to make it seem as if fundamental housing questions are basically settled. We need to create new sites where the housing question can be reopened.” From, “In Defense of Housing” By: David Madden and Peter Marcuse

In Defense Of Housing

Out of all of the challenges a person may face, there is no vulnerability quite like homelessness. It is a situation that has to be experienced to be fully understood. Pundits usually discuss the ever-growing issue from a detached, cerebral standpoint. They spew statistics, grimace at the effect of homelessness on housed taxpayers, emote empathy for individuals engaged in a plight they “can only imagine,” and fail to connect the dots of a social issue that has a historical context. The authors of “In Defense of Housing” deviate from this oft-traveled road.

In “In Defense of Housing,” authors David Madden and Peter Marcuse exhibit a deep understanding of the issue of homelessness. They do not regurgitate the cliched analyses and phrases associated with homelessness. In fact, in their tome, they challenge the validity of the phrase, “housing crisis.” They astutely argue that this term, and terms like it, are misnomers.

Madden and Marcuse frame homelessness in a historical context. They trace the origins of the real estate market as it exists, and reveal who benefits from its current state and how. They also give a history of how various sects of society utilize and define housing.

In addition to giving the reader a broad view of housing and its commercialization, the authors of, “In Defense of Housing,” also provide the reader with an inside look on how homelessness feels to the individuals who are experiencing it. They do a great job of conveying the downward spiral that homelessness can cause to an individual, family, and community.

“In Defense of Housing” is not a book that solely commiserates on the distressing issue of homelessness. The tome offers well thought out solutions to the current housing conundrum. The concluding chapter of the book, entitled, “For a Radical Right to Housing,” presents strategies that could be implemented to provide more just access to housing.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a clear-eyed look into the state of housing today, and to anyone who is looking to better the abysmal state of proper housing access. This book is a standout amongst the books written on the subject of homelessness.

Updated: 4/26/17