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The Language of 'The Commons' in Low Income Housing Communities: Common Property Theory and the Development of a Progressive U.S. Federal Housing Policy

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Morgan, Betty
Conference: Crossing Boundaries, the Seventh Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Conf. Date: June 10-14
Date: 1998
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/853
Sector: New Commons
Urban Commons
Region: North America
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
state and local governance
urban commons--case study
Abstract: "While historically, public housing facilities in the United States have never been planned or managed from the perspectives of common property theory, one contemporary approach to the provision of public housing is to plan or manage public housing installations as 'communities of the whole.' (Pollack, 1997) This paper will examine one recent effort to apply the theoretical concepts of New Urbanism to the reinvention of a public housing facility located in the Southern United States, looking at the effort as a means for expanding housing options while creating a new sense of community. What emerges from this process, the paper argues, is the need for and applicability of common property theories and concepts to facilitate the conceptual understandings of those affected by the transition. Building upon the work of 1997 IASCP paper authors Bernard Freidan, Rutherford Platt, and Patricia Pollack (Is There an Urban Commons in the United States Panel), this report extends their efforts by developing a case study of the 1997 effort of the Greensboro, North Carolina, Public Housing Authority to transform one public housing community, Morningside Homes, and reports the results of an innovative design charette experience which combined unprecedented levels of community participation with cutting edge technical expertise in an effort to reinvent the public housing community concept. Among the numerous theoretical and conceptual needs which emerged from this innovative planning process, was the almost immediate recognition that public housing conversion, at this scale, will require attending to many of the same problems that have historically been solved through common property regimes.... This paper reports on the extraordinary process of planning, design, resolution and invigoration which transformed the Morningside community and describes the residents' process of establishing their own common property regime. Finally, nearing the project's first anniversary, the paper explores the success the project has achieved in pressing federal agencies, local governments, nonprofit and community organizations and developers to create innovative ways of redistributing rights and responsibilities for common spaces, land, infrastructure, and buildings, in this attempt to make the transition to new forms of public and private activities."

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