Raising The Flag For Public Housing Tenants And Their Homes

human ear
We speak out. People look like they're listening, but they're not.

In the article linked below, Nasteho Said brings to life the experience of living in public housing in the US, UK and Australia. Said weaves three events together:

    • the 2017 fire in the Grenfell Tower Fire in London,
    • the extreme COVID lockdown of public housing towers in Melbourne in 2020.
    • a deadly public housing fire in the Bronx, New York in 2022

These events share a common back story: tenants repeatedly sounded warnings about dangerous conditions, which management ignored. Said argues that tenant concerns were dismissed in part because the tenants are immigrants and Muslim.

Faced with intransigent management, Said says that mutual support from tenants proved to be a life force. She quotes a tenant activist in Melbourne:

“I think the biggest lesson I learnt from it was… if you don’t stand up for yourself, if you don’t stand up communally, the amount of harm we’d experience if we depended on the fairness or kindness of people in power is ridiculous,”

Said finishes by connecting immigrant experiences in public housing with the financialization of housing and global capitalism. She explores how media convey messages that immigrants should be grateful for the opportunities in their new countries, rather than standing up for decent and safe accommodation, as well as opportunities for education and employment.

Nasteho Said’s article speaks volumes about what happens when people with experience of living in public housing are excluded from discussions about operating it. She also illustrates the impacts of multiple experiences of disadvantage and reasons why people who live in public housing are wary of authorities. These are important to changing the way public housing is managed going forward.

To read more, see this article in AMALIAH: From Grenfell to the Bronx: How Public Housing Suffers Under Global Capitalism