Just Housing

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Shelter is one of our most basic human needs. Yet housing, and its legal, social and political meanings and struggles around its distribution, possession and safety, is a concept that can only be fully understood as a historical phenomenon. This podcast series shows how history provides a unique view on how the question of housing is a social justice issue connected to other ones like mass incarceration and the destruction wrought by wars, famines, pandemics, colonial expansion and intergenerational racial, ethnic and class inequalities. All episodes were conceived and produced by students in the course, “Global Urban Histories of Housing Justice” at Columbia University. Using examples from cities around the world, these episodes feature archival and oral history research as they delve into stories that get to the bigger picture about how, throughout the world, the provision of shelter for urban populations has been at the center of urban crises and conflicts, as well as their solutions.


Recent Podcasts

Cairo to London: Imperial Dynamics of Housing the Poor January 5, 2021 - This episode examines the ways in which imperialism impacted perceptions of urban poverty and housing in late 19th-century London, England and Cairo, Egypt. We analyze the British government’s responses to emerging urban crises in each city, and how social perceptions of the poor shaped these policy response. This podcast addresses questions like: How did these perceptions shift between the metropole, London, and the colony, Cairo? And, how does a difference in perception result in differences in policy? To answer these questions, we pored over primary accounts of reformers and travel journal logs from the 19th century. Through our research and expert interviews, “Cairo to London: Imperial Dynamics of Housing the Poor” ultimately seeks to understand the consequences of these differences in perceptions of the poor in the context of urban housing. [...]

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Where They Lived: Housing New York’s Single Women January 5, 2021 - On this episode of Just housing, explore the gendered nature of access to affordable, safe and healthy housing in a place that is close to the hearts of all three of us, New York. As New York became more and more industrial, several industries began recruiting female laborers. Many of these workers were young single women on their own for the first time in a major city. It was especially hard for women with few connections in the city to find an affordable and safe place to live, so most single women ended up renting rooms or living in private boarding houses. By 1910 there were around 68,000 women boarders in Manhattan alone! In this podcast, you can learn about the history of housing options developed for single women in New York as an alternative to private boarding and lodging. [...]

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Disease and Power January 5, 2021 - At the turn of the 20th Century, the third pandemic of the bubonic plague took place, impacting many lives and killing millions of people as it made its way around the world. This episode of Just Housing explores how the plague impacted the cities of Hong Kong and San Francisco. We delve into the substantial overlap between urban housing and public health to answer questions about both issues. [...]

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La Batalla de Bodegas January 5, 2021 - On this Episode of Just Housing, “La Batalla de Bodegas” we analyze the declining presence of bodegas in Washington Heights and its direct impact on access to housing for Dominicans. The title “Batalla de Bodegas” alludes to the ongoing ‘battle’ for bodegas that has taken place since the late 90s against the forces of zoning laws, gentrification, redevelopment and the criminalization of the Dominican population. [...]

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Home is Where the Heart Is January 5, 2021 - On this episode of Just Housing, “Home Is Where the Heart Is,” Amber Chong, Bella Barnes, and Sophie Kato (joined by Sophie’s grandfather, Ken Kato) discuss how Japanese-American resilience helped the Heart Mountain Relocation Center’s emerge as a unique community, one that functioned as both a prison and a city. [...]

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