NYT piece by @just_shelter follows MN renters who faced eviction but organized to purchase their building. “I saw the tenants reimagine — and then reinvent — what stable, affordable housing could look like“ /1

The story is important for policy reform in a lot of areas – housing, anti-poverty, criminal justice. Policy debate is often limited by what experts see as politically feasible. This limits imagination. /2
“For well-to-do moderates, antipoverty solutions are ideas, conversation topics. For the poor, they are oxygen,” writes @just_shelter /3
A small mobilization of renters gives their own answer to the affordable housing crisis, and experts ask, can it scale? “Can it scale? was just another way of asking, Is it realistic? which itself was just another way of asking, Is this social change I’m comfortable with?” /4
A lot in this piece but there are messages here for academics who work on public policy: the expertise of lived experience is a real thing, and policy academics need to get better at listening and learning from it. /5
Often what we think of as policy problems (affordable housing, over-incarceration, discrimination, poverty) that require expert solutions, are really abuses of power and failures of democracy /6
Can it scale? The answer in anti-poverty policy historically is not mostly about expert policy design, but about the politics of organization and coalition building. /7
For policy academics: if we give technocratic answers to what are essentially political questions, we’re probably not helping. We need to find ways to invite and engage the imagination of new solutions. Listening and proximity will help. /10
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