Institute is Awarded NSF Grant for Housing Justice

Institute is Awarded NSF Grant for Housing Justice

The Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin has been awarded a four-year, $486,784 National Science Foundation grant to study housing precarity and housing movements.

The award (BCS 1758774) will support the establishment of a research coordination network — Housing Justice in Unequal Cities (HJUC) — based in the United States and with partnerships with key research entities in Brazil, India, South Africa and Spain. The network is based on the proposition that housing struggles play a significant role in the organization and transformation of urban space. It will advance research on housing precarity such as evictions, homelessness and displacement, with plans to study these issues in tandem with forms of racial segregation and discrimination.

The formation of the HJUC network is both necessary and timely given that the United States is in the midst of an evictions crisis. “And yet, there is very little systematic data and data visualization on evictions and related forms of housing precarity,” says director Ananya Roy and professor of urban planning, social welfare and geography. “There is also much work to be done on conceptualizing the main instruments of displacement and evictions that are currently underway in black and brown communities.”

This network will fill a gap in research by systematically analyzing community and policy responses that seek to create housing access and housing justice through legal frameworks, cooperative models of land and housing, and collective action (e.g. rent control, community land trusts). An important aspect of the project is its coordination at the intersection of social movements, universities and policy. It also builds transnational communities of inquiry concerned with shared problems, for example tenancy and tenure in California and Spain or land reparations in South Africa and the United States. Paying close attention to housing movements and policy interventions, the HJUC network will synthesize the primary modalities of housing justice and its conceptual underpinnings into a Housing Justice Handbook that will be broadly disseminated.

The Housing Justice in #UnequalCities conference, which will launch our NSF project, will take place in Los Angeles from January 31 to February 1, 2019. We anticipate that the conference will draw faculty, students, community-based scholars and LA activists keen to understand and discuss complex conceptual frameworks of housing and land and a global perspective on housing justice. At the Institute, we believe that a global and comparative approach is vital because there are important lessons to be learned from housing research in other parts of the world, including sophisticated conceptualizations of displaceability. Similarly, there is much to be learned from housing movements in different parts of the world and how they have been institutionalized in progressive forms of urban planning and policy change.

“In particular, we expect that the network will create communities of researchers connected through shared analytical and methodological problems,” states Roy. “We intend for the network to nurture the next generation of housing scholars whose work will lead such inquiry and pedagogy. Recognizing the persistent need to expand diversity in geography and urban studies, through the mentorship of women and people of color and through the support of research that foregrounds the experiences of marginalized groups, we hope that our inter-generational approach will have a transformative effect on these disciplines.”

Cristina Barrera
Communications and Program Manager, Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin

Ananya Roy
Director, Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin