Category Archives: Books

New Book: The Voucher Promise: “Section 8” and the Fate of an American Neighborhood

9780691189505New Book: Eva Rosen, The Voucher Promise: “Section 8” and the Fate of an American Neighborhood (forthcoming 2020). Overview below:

Housing vouchers are a cornerstone of US federal housing policy, offering aid to more than two million households. Vouchers are meant to provide the poor with increased choice in the private rental marketplace, enabling access to safe neighborhoods with good schools and higher-paying jobs. But do they?

The Voucher Promise examines the Housing Choice Voucher Program, colloquially known as “Section 8,” and how it shapes the lives of families living in a Baltimore neighborhood called Park Heights. Eva Rosen tells stories about the daily lives of homeowners, voucher holders, renters who receive no housing assistance, and the landlords who provide housing. While vouchers are a powerful tool with great promise, she demonstrates how the housing policy can replicate the very inequalities it has the power to solve.

Rosen spent more than a year living in Park Heights, sitting on front stoops, getting to know families, accompanying them on housing searches, speaking to landlords, and learning about the neighborhood’s history. Voucher holders disproportionately end up in this area despite rampant unemployment, drugs, crime, and abandoned housing. Exploring why they are unable to relocate to other neighborhoods, Rosen illustrates the challenges in obtaining vouchers and the difficulties faced by recipients in using them when and where they want to. Yet, despite the program’s real shortcomings, she argues that vouchers offer basic stability for families and should remain integral to solutions for the nation’s housing crisis.

Delving into the connections between safe, affordable housing and social mobility, The Voucher Promise investigates the profound benefits and formidable obstacles involved in housing America’s poor.

(Older) Book: Views from the Reservation

(Older) Book: John Willis, Views from the Reservation (2019 ed.). This book was originally published in 2010, but the new edition features additional material. For those interested in reservation life, including reservation poverty, I found this to be a great book. The photos were moving, but so were the poems by high school students living on the reservation and the modern ledger art featured in the book. Some of the photos in the book can be seen here.

New Book: The Legal Aid Lawyer

LAL CoverNew Book: Mel Eichelbaum, The Legal Aid Lawyer (2020). Overview below:

The book details, from a personal and unique perspective, the history of the development and progress of some of the very significant civil rights and poverty law reform cases, several of which went all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. Not only will this book be enjoyable by attorneys and those familiar with the legal profession; but it also presents an interesting story for those who would enjoy reading about the portrayal of many connecting historical characters who played a role in San Antonio, Texas, and the nation with respect to the evolution of the continuing fight for equal justice for all.

New Book: Skimmed: Breastfeeding, Race, and Injustice

New Book: Andrea Freeman, Skimmed: Breastfeeding, Race, and Injustice (2019). Overview below:

Born into a tenant farming family in North Carolina in 1946, Mary Louise, Mary Ann, Mary Alice, and Mary Catherine were medical miracles. Annie Mae Fultz, a Black-Cherokee woman who lost her ability to hear and speak in childhood, became the mother of America’s first surviving set of identical quadruplets. They were instant celebrities. Their White doctor named them after his own family members. He sold the rights to use the sisters for marketing purposes to the highest-bidding formula company. The girls lived in poverty, while Pet Milk’s profits from a previously untapped market of Black families skyrocketed.

Over half a century later, baby formula is a seventy-billion-dollar industry and Black mothers have the lowest breastfeeding rates in the country. Since slavery, legal, political, and societal factors have routinely denied Black women the ability to choose how to feed their babies. In Skimmed, Andrea Freeman tells the riveting story of the Fultz quadruplets while uncovering how feeding America’s youngest citizens is awash in social, legal, and cultural inequalities. This book highlights the making of a modern public health crisis, the four extraordinary girls whose stories encapsulate a nationwide injustice, and how we can fight for a healthier future.

New Book: On The Line: How Schooling, Housing, and Civil Rights Shaped Hartford and its Suburbs

New Book: Jack Dougherty et al., On The Line: How Schooling, Housing, and Civil Rights Shaped Hartford and its Suburbs, this book-in-progress was last updated on 2019-11-06.

On The Line, an open-access digital and print history book, makes visible the hidden schooling and housing boundaries that divide metropolitan Hartford, Connecticut, and tells the stories of civil rights activists and everyday families who sought to cross over, redraw, or erase these lines.

New Book: The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay

New Book: Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay (W. W. Norton & Company, 2019). Overview below:

America’s runaway inequality has an engine: our unjust tax system.

Even as they became fabulously wealthy, the ultra-rich have had their taxes collapse to levels last seen in the 1920s. Meanwhile, working-class Americans have been asked to pay more. The Triumph of Injustice presents a forensic investigation into this dramatic transformation, written by two economists who revolutionized the study of inequality. Eschewing anecdotes and case studies, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman offer a comprehensive view of America’s tax system, based on new statistics covering all taxes paid at all levels of government. Their conclusion? For the first time in more than a century, billionaires now pay lower tax rates than their secretaries.

Blending history and cutting-edge economic analysis, and writing in lively and jargon-free prose, Saez and Zucman dissect the deliberate choices (and sins of indecision) that have brought us to today: the gradual exemption of capital owners; the surge of a new tax avoidance industry, and the spiral of tax competition among nations. With clarity and concision, they explain how America turned away from the most progressive tax system in history to embrace policies that only serve to compound the wealth of a few.

But The Triumph of Injustice is much more than a laser-sharp analysis of one of the great political and intellectual failures of our time. Saez and Zucman propose a visionary, democratic, and practical reinvention of taxes, outlining reforms that can allow tax justice to triumph in today’s globalized world and democracy to prevail over concentrated wealth.

A pioneering companion website allows anyone to evaluate proposals made by the authors, and to develop their own alternative tax reform at taxjusticenow.org.

New Book: Getting By: Economic Rights and Legal Protections for People with Low Income

New Book: Helen Hershkoff & Stephen Loffredo, Getting By: Economic Rights and Legal Protections for People with Low Income (Oxford University Press 2020). Overview below:

Getting By offers an integrated, critical account of the federal laws and programs that most directly affect poor and low-income people in the United States-the unemployed, the underemployed, and the low-wage employed, whether working in or outside the home.

The central aim is to provide a resource for individuals and groups trying to access benefits, secure rights and protections, and mobilize for economic justice.

The topics covered include cash assistance, employment and labor rights, food assistance, health care, education, consumer and banking law, housing assistance, rights in public places, access to justice, and voting rights.

This comprehensive volume is appropriate for law school and undergraduate courses, and is a vital resource for policy makers, journalists, and others interested in social welfare policy in the United States.

New Book: After the Projects: Public Housing Redevelopment and the Governance of the Poorest Americans

After the Projects – Public Housing Redevelopment and the Governance of the Poorest Americans | Oxford Scholarship OnlineNew Book: Lawrence J. Vale, After the Projects: Public Housing Redevelopment and the Governance of the Poorest Americans (Oxford University Press, 2018). Overview below:

 

At a time when lower-income Americans face a desperate struggle to find affordable rental housing in many cities, After the Projects investigates the contested spatial politics of public housing development and redevelopment. Public housing practices differ markedly from city to city and, collectively, reveal deeply held American attitudes about poverty and how the poorest should be governed. The book exposes the range of outcomes from the US federal government’s HOPE VI program for public housing transformation, focused on nuanced accounts of four very different ways of implementing this same national initiative—in Boston, New Orleans, Tucson, and San Francisco. It draws upon more than two hundred interviews, analysis of internal documents about each project, and nearly fifteen years of visits to these neighborhoods. The central aim is to understand how and why some cities, when redeveloping public housing, have attempted to minimize the presence of the poorest residents in their new mixed-income communities, while other cities have instead tried to serve the maximum number of extremely low-income households. The book shows that these socially and politically revealing decisions are rooted in distinctly different kinds of governance constellations—each yielding quite different sorts of community pressures. These have been forged over many decades in response to each city’s own struggle with previous efforts at urban renewal. In contrast to other books that have focused on housing in a single city, this volume offers comparative analysis and a national picture, while also discussing four emblematic communities with an unprecedented level of detail.

New Book: Creating Private Sector Economies in Native America: Sustainable Development through Entrepreneurship

New Book: Creating Private Sector Economies in Native America: Sustainable Development through Entrepreneurship (Robert J. Miller, Miriam Jorgensen, & Daniel Stewart eds., Cambridge University Press, 2019).

-Congrats to the editors for seeing this through and thanks including my chapter. Sorry I will miss the conference gathering!

New Book: Singlewide: Chasing the American Dream in a Rural Trailer Park

New Book: Sonya Salamon and Katherine Mactavish, [Singlewide: Chasing the American Dream in a Rural Trailer Park] (Cornell University Press, 2017). Overview below:

In Singlewide, Sonya Salamon and Katherine MacTavish explore the role of the trailer park as a source of affordable housing. America’s trailer parks, most in rural places, shelter an estimated 12 million people, and the authors show how these parks serve as a private solution to a pressing public need. Singlewide considers the circumstances of families with school-age children in trailer parks serving whites in Illinois, Hispanics in New Mexico, and African Americans in North Carolina. By looking carefully at the daily lives of families who live side by side in rows of manufactured homes, Salamon and MacTavish draw conclusions about the importance of housing, community, and location in the families’ dreams of opportunities and success as signified by eventually owning land and a conventional home.

Working-poor rural families who engage with what Salamon and MacTavish call the “mobile home industrial complex” may become caught in an expensive trap starting with their purchase of a mobile home. A family that must site its trailer in a land-lease trailer park struggles to realize any of the anticipated benefits of homeownership. Seeking to break down stereotypes, Salamon and MacTavish reveal the important place that trailer parks hold within the United States national experience. In so doing, they attempt to integrate and normalize a way of life that many see as outside the mainstream, suggesting that families who live in trailer parks, rather than being “trailer trash,” culturally resemble the parks’ neighbors who live in conventional homes.