A Primer on Housing America

Last week, I provided a brief, if somewhat snarly, history of affordable housing in the United States. Today, I offer an overview of the strategies and mechanisms available to create affordable housing today.

Part Two: Creating Affordable Housing Circa 2021

330+ million Americans live in approximately 141 million housing units in the United States. Over two million of us live in public housing, 4.7 million live in Section 8 housing, and a smattering live in other kinds of subsidized shelter. Still, there are only 36 affordable housing units available for every 100 low-income households. Almost…


A Primer on Housing America

A friend recently asked me how we create affordable housing in the United States. It seemed a simple query. Yet, like so many questions, the deeper I delved, the more complex and frustrating it became. Too much for a single blog post. So, over the next few weeks I will offer three perspectives. Today, a brief history of providing housing for folks unable to access the private market. Next week, the current grab bag of ways that government and non-profit institutions create affordable housing. …


Whitney Plantation, Louisiana

Within a few moments of Clint Smith’s recent Harvard Radcliffe Institute Book Talk about How the Word is Passed, I was fully won over by the man and his message. Mr. Smith is a 33-year-old poet and scholar drenched in wisdom deep as it is nuanced. His book chronicles seven places he visited, and the people he met, in search of reckoning the past and present impact of American slavery. I’ve never encountered legitimate anger coupled with such compassion.

How the Word is Passed appeals to me in multiple ways. The book is architectural: Clint’s descriptions of the beauty, the…


“Hope is not an emotion…hope is not optimism.”

— Mariame Kaba, We Do This ’Til We Free Us

“Optimism is a state of mind in which you are hopeful that things will turn out well.”

— William J. Knaus, Ed D, The Cognitive Behavioral Workbook for Depression

“In the world we live in, it is easy to feel a sense of hopelessness, that everything is bad all the time, that nothing is going to change ever…I understand why people feel that way. I just choose differently. …


I embrace Universal Basic Income and envision the end of work as we know it

“Look at you; look at what you’re doing. You’re engaged, you’re learning, you’re sharing. I think that’s useful. We don’t call it work because you’re not doing it for money.”

The Couchsurfing app connects me with Amre. I arrive at his spartan apartment in Tallahassee, Florida with a six-pack. Amre cooks couscous. We sit on his sofa and eat from plates on our laps. The guy hasn’t got a table. In the morning I’ll be gone. We’ll likely never meet again.

“UBI promotes the creative…


…a Tale of Three Cities’ Trash

Image: NBC-10

“Nobody wants to work anymore.” I encounter the phrase every day. From retiree’s impatient for the waitress to take their order. From people complaining insufferable wait times to be connected to a customer service rep. In media reports of worker shortages in every sector, agriculture to manufacturing.

Perhaps I need to stop hanging around folks who still use the term, “waitress,” and avoid the over-sixty crowd who reflexively chant, “I put in my time.” Still, the phrase, “nobody wants to work,” transcends ideological bounds. Conservatives blame pandemic largesse of extended unemployment, eviction moratoriums, and relief payments. …


Five thousand years ago, give or take a few centuries, the people of the earth, speaking in unified tongue, got together and decided to build a tower to reach the heavens (Genesis 11:1–9). God, ever wary of humans getting uppity, put an end to their folly with two neat tricks. First, she made their utterances incomprehensible to each other. Then, he scattered people across the face of the earth. Thus marks the beginning of widescale human interference with the natural order, and our inability to understand each other.

Fast forward five thousand years, give or take a few centuries, and…


When Edwin Starr released his anti-anthem “War (What is it Good For?)” in 1970, the number of high school graduates in the United States heading off to college was near peak, just north of 50%. The percentage had been growing for over twenty years, thanks in large part to World War II era perks for veterans.

For the previous three hundred years, college had been, more or less, the province of gentlemen, with all the privilege and snobbery that F. Scott Fitzgerald reveals in This Side of Paradise. …


I recently copy-edited a Guest Opinion essay by Michele Kirichanskaya for the upcoming issue of GL&R (Gay & Lesbian Review). “How Asexuals Got Organized.” I proof read the article. Made a few grammatical notations. Checked out the website for Asexual Visibility and Education Network. Asexual.org. Yep, It’s a thing.

Then I laughed. Out. Loud.

In our current alphabet soup of sexual identity, LGBTQIA+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Questioning (old-schoolers like me sometimes mistakenly say Queer) Intersex, and Asexual. …


The moment I learned that the international architecture firm HDR was selected to create the preliminary plan for a new women’s prison to replace MCI-Framingham, my mind reeled back forty years. 1981. One month out of Architecture School. My first professional assignment: a new hangar for the U.S Navy. I was dumbfounded. School projects had included clinics, housing, arts centers; nothing that challenged the ethics of a bloke who’d chosen to be a VISTA Volunteer rather than a veteran. Next day I explained to my boss why I could not, in conscience, work on a military facility. …

Paul E. Fallon

Seeking balance in a world of opposing tension

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