Perplexed by Mayor Bass’s housing interview?

Read the Housing Justice Narrative Toolkit by PolicyLink, an $80M / year colossus in the 'equity' nonprofit world.

Bass's views are a manifestation of this line of nonprofit thinking.


Across this 60 page deck, PolicyLink offers advice to housing activists about how "to shape what is possible and determine the norms we will use to make decisions."

Read the whole thing.

I'll focus on 1 slide.

PolicyLink provides several examples of positive headlines to advance 'housing justice':

"Restoring Victorian houses in Boston for artists and teachers with incomes lower than $30,000/year"

This one is a problem.

Old homes require massive upkeep and utility costs. Saddling low-income people with constant maintenance and leaky windows is bad policy.

Also, teachers start above $60K / year in Boston.

"We made history: residents choose rent stabilization after generations of disinvestment"

PolicyLink counterposes "rent stabilization" with
"generations of disinvestment", but they're not in opposition.

Typically, "investment" would be the opposite of "disinvestment."

PolicyLink is in a bit of a bind, since they later oppose private investment in disinvested communities, but everyone knows redlining was bad, so they go with their preferred policy solution, rent control.

PolicyLink also suggests several headlines to avoid.

"Stories that only give a history lesson."

Fair enough. As a History PhD dropout, I enjoy reading history lessons, but it's not the best advocacy frame.

That said, I can't help but suspect "history" is a stand in for "factual descriptions of reality," which could complicate PolicyLink's preferred narratives.

PolicyLink opposes "Stories that reinforce production as necessary for solving the housing shortage and homelessness."

Clear housing denialism!

Bizarrely, they seem to accept the reality of a "housing shortage," but don't think building more homes is helpful.

There is overwhelming evidence that housing "production" will reduce rents, racial and economic segregation, displacement, and GHG emissions.

It's fine if PolicyLink has an aesthetic preference for old Victorians, but their defense of the status-quo built environment worsens outcomes for the people they claim to represent.

PolicyLink also opposes "Stories that glorify diversifying the neighborhood with mixed-income housing developments and framing it as 'undoing segregation.'"

A few mixed-income apartment buildings won’t by themselves undo segregation, but what is the end game here?

Does PolicyLink believe government policy should work to maintain existing patterns of racial and class segregation, or should we *begin* to undo segregation by allowing mixed-income home building?

I recommend reading PolicyLink's entire toolkit.

Understanding what Mayor Bass's housing advisors are reading helps make her own views more legible.

Recommended by
Recommendations from around the web and our community.

Great thread here on housing misinformation being pushed in progressive nonprofitland