Creating Housing Futures Together

Housing as health, housing as community, housing as liberatory — that is the future we are working toward. Bright and bold housing futures for our communities mean new models and approaches that are unapologetically inclusive of all, imagined and made possible by the brilliance, insights, and guidance from the communities most impacted by housing inequities. 

Today, more than 50 years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968′s prohibition against housing discrimination, exploitive and discriminatory real estate practices and the deep inequities proliferate. In this chapter of our collective histories, the timeline of progress has been designed to lock Black, Brown, and Indigenous people out of the future. Under constant threat of displacement from their homes, and often occupied with planning how to survive the next day, week, or month, Black, Brown, and Indigenous people and communities — many holding intersectional identities such as race, gender, nativity, disability, sexuality, and religion —  are left with little space or time to dream about and plan for their futures. That is why we are reclaiming April as Housing Futures Month. We will use the month to dream, vision, explore, play, and create new housing futures together!

Our society prioritizes housing — primarily through homeownership — as a pathway to wealth-building first and housing stability second. A focus on Housing Futures calls for a reprioritization of our values, to emphasize intergenerational housing stability and eliminate the debt that keeps Black, Brown, and Indigenous families and other marginalized communities on a neverending sprint to catch up on the timeline of progress. Families can have housing, job, and educational opportunities without experiencing poverty, but this is only possible when they aren’t being pushed out of their communities through eviction, redevelopment, rising rents, and property taxes — when community investment is prioritized over profit. In addition to material resources, communities need space and time to think more creatively, expansively, and positively about the futures of their neighborhoods, to envision what a thriving community looks like for them. 

If we have any hopes of fundamentally breaking away from patterns of the past and rupturing the inadequate present, the future can no longer be envisioned only by those with the privilege of time and space to imagine. It can no longer be constructed within a bootstraps narrative of personal responsibility and self-determination that treats only some as deserving of a roof over their heads. Our measure of progress must rely on how much we can transform our values to provide broad-scale and equitable access to housing opportunities for all. Our vision of housing futures demands the end of housing as a matter of private contract and envisions a world where housing and land are no longer a commodity. Liberated housing futures are forward and backward reaching simultaneously, correcting the past and reshaping futures where justice and equity are fundamental and inalienable aspects of our housing systems. 

The pandemic has underscored the need for new and refreshed approaches to housing justice that address the roots of systemic racial inequities, with an ethics of reckoning, repair, healing, transformation, and equity. To determine these approaches, we can ask ourselves key questions, such as:

  • What would it look like to scale up and replicate existing models that seek to address and repair longstanding housing discrimination?
  • How might we develop new models for spatial reparations, land restitution, and housing abolition to achieve collective impact for the 100 million who have been systematically locked out of housing opportunities for centuries?
  • How do we apply abolitionist and liberatory frameworks to housing in order to both dismantle current systems and create a new world with new systems — instead of the same old world with reconfigured systems?
  • How do we invoke Black, Brown, and Indigenous spatial and temporal imaginaries in envisioning and creating these new worlds and new futures?
  • How do we reimagine the ways we collaborate with impacted people and communities to build sustainable power?
  • How do we co-develop new solutions for tackling housing insecurity and creating equitable housing futures outside of the crisis-response model and the sense of time urgency that leaves little time and space for communities and individuals to plan for and live out their futures?
  • How can we decentralize wealth accumulation as one of the primary goals of housing policy?  
  • How do we decommodify housing as the foundation on which health is built and center it as a platform of health, culture, and community? 

Housing Futures Month calls on each of us to consider how we can contribute to designing and implementing housing models that allow everyone the stability and ability to dream about and pursue bold futures.

Housing Futures Month is founded by Rasheedah Phillips, our Director of Housing. If you haven’t already, check out this Q&A to get to know her better. You can find this work on our website, and be sure you’re following PolicyLink on TwitterLinkedIn, and Instagram. This campaign is an invitation to explore together. All month long we’ll be sharing adaptable and interactive materials, so as you join us, share about your journey using #HousingFuturesMonth.