First Advisor

Lisa Bates

Date of Publication

Fall 12-21-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Urban Studies (M.U.S.)


Urban Studies




Cully (Portland, Or.), Right to housing, Housing policy, Community development



Physical Description

1 online resource (v, 148 pages)


A right to housing is a central iteration of the broader demand for a democratic right to the city. The perpetual housing crisis for lower-income people results from a commodified system in which access to housing is based on the exchange value interests of property owners, rather than a universal right to a decent, affordable home. This system is a pillar of neoliberal urban governance and justified by a hegemonic ideology that equates speculative homeownership with the American Dream. Achieving a right to housing, even at the local scale, requires a radical movement that cultivates individual and collective consciousness, discredits the dominant ideology, and fights for decommodification.

In recent years, grassroots organizing in the Cully neighborhood of Portland, OR, has resisted gentrification and contributed to local housing policy victories. As an activist research project, a survey of existing housing advocates tests the framework of housing consciousness and interest groups developed by John Emmeus Davis (1991), and explores the potential for a radical housing movement in Cully. Across lines of housing tenure, respondents widely agree with a right to housing in the abstract, recognize unjust outcomes of the existing system, and support policies that prioritize housing rights over property rights. Yet many are skeptical of interventions specifically in the homeownership system, and express limited or contradictory understandings of the structural underpinnings of housing injustice.


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