Examining earlier federal housing initiatives, Rachel Bratt argues that public housing has not failed. She proposes a new strategy for producing decent, affordable housing for low-income people through non-profit community-based organizations.
The potential of a new housing policy built on empowering community groups and low-income households is compelling. The production, rehabilitation, management and/or ownership by community-based organizations, with funding and technical assistance provided by a new type of public support system, not only would offer participants much-needed shelter, but also control over and security in their living environments. These qualities have been lacking in housing sponsored by the private for-profit sector as well as in previous subsidy programs.
The author analyzes the limitations of both profit-oriented developers and public agencies as the primary vehicles for developing low- and middle-income housing. Promoting small-scale neighborhood organizations as better suited for delivering such services, she focuses on large multi-family projects and argues that our urban public housing stock represents an irreplaceable resource that is rapidly decaying to a point of no return. Through a number of case studies of housing projects throughout Massachusettsamong them South Holyoke, the Granite Properties, Fields Corner in Dorchester, and the Boston Housing PartnershipBratt examines the dilemmas faced by community development corporations, analyzes the accomplishments of empowered community groups, and recommends ways of Rebuilding a Low-Income Housing Policy.
"A useful resource for planners an activist working on housing development. It provides a wealth of information about the positive and negative outcomes of various federal and local initiatives." International Journal of Urban and Regional Research
"(L)ittle work has been done to show that a community-based housing program is a viable alternative. Rachel Bratt's new book...fills this void nicely by giving a detailed account of the recent emergence of community-based housing programs....Bratt is perhaps the country's leading expert in this area....While the main emphasis of the book is on community-based housing programs, an additional plus is a critical review of the history of United States housing programs which I found illuminating and insightful." Journal of Urban Affairs