THE UGLY PALACES: Housing in America by Robert A. Liston

THE UGLY PALACES: Housing in America

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Most of this seems to have been written before high interest rates and other factors brought the American housing industry to a virtual standstill, but Liston still tackles an immensely complicated situation. First he takes a sympathetic look at the problems of the middle class who find housing prices mushrooming beyond their means; however he foresees no overall solution other than a ""pinprick"" of buyer resistance to inflationary prices. Then Liston turns to the problems of the poor and recounts the scarred history of public housing failures, the graft-sodden saga of subsidized housing and the vacillating course of governmental policy, particularly under the Nixon administration of which he is highly critical. Throughout, the problems of housing for the poor are placed in the context of the interlocking web of ghetto pathology and there is a sophisticated appreciation of the hardships and limited options faced by the chronically poor. However, here again Liston quickly dismisses some solutions -- such as housing rehabilitation -- and places a great deal of faith in equally troublesome probabilities such as the rise of a giant housing conglomerate which could profitably rebuild whole neighborhoods through private enterprise. The factual recapitulation is valuable, but often one loses sight of the dimensions of the topic; for example, it is stated at one point that ""We could solve the housing problem by solving the poverty problem"" even though the housing crunch faced by the relatively affluent was vividly outlined in an earlier chapter. Altogether, an amorphous overview marred by Liston's tendency to jump to conclusions. . . . Still far more realistic than the pie in the sky offered by Michelsohn and Science Book Associates in their prospectus for Housing in Tomorrow's World (KR, 1973).

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1974
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Franklin Watts