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Post-War Middle-Class Housing

Models, Construction and Change

Edited By Gaia Caramellino and Federico Zanfi

Post-war middle-class housing played a key role in constructing and transforming the cities of Europe and America, deeply impacting today’s urban landscape. And yet, this stock has been underrepresented in a literature mostly focused on public housing and the work of a few master architects.
This book is the first attempt to explore such housing from an international perspective. It provides a comparative insight into the processes of construction, occupation and transformation of residential architecture built for the middle-classes in 12 different countries between the 1950s and 1970s. It investigates the role of models, actors and policies that shaped the middle-class city, tracing geographies, chronologies and forms of development that often cross national frontiers.
This study is particularly relevant today within the context of «fragilization» which affects the middle-classes, challenging, as it does, the urban role played by this residential heritage in the light of technological obsolescence, trends in patterns of homeownership, as well as social and generational changes.
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IV.1 Housing Risk: Neoliberal Homeownership in the United States

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JONATHAN MASSEY

(California College of the Arts)

IV.1 Housing Risk: Neoliberal Homeownership in the United States

The house at 702 Vermont Street in Brooklyn doesn’t stand out. It’s one in a series of two-story brick houses on a long block of East New York. Like many of its neighbours, the house has a narrow, fenced front yard leading to a few stairs and a porch that has been enclosed and incorporated into the house (fig. 1). Trees partially screen its tan vinyl siding and blue cornice. After picking up the kids at Public School 213, you might drive right past without noticing as you pulled up to the light at New Lots Avenue.

Open real estate apps like Trulia or Zillow in fall 2012 and you would have learned that while the owner bought it in 2007 for $424,500, and the house tax was based on an assessed value of $384,000, its estimated market price was $286,000. Plug in the address at NYCityMap (fig. 2), New York City’s GIS-based portal for municipal information and public records, and you would have seen that when the owner bought the house five years earlier, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. (MERS) had recorded not only a primary mortgage of $339,600 but also a secondary loan of $84,900. A year and a half later, the company had assigned one of the mortgages to Countrywide Home Loans, and in...

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