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This paper examines the connection between property, and urban poverty and spatial marginalization. The views of two articles are used in showing the connection. These articles examine how homelessness is connected to property. Various perspectives as discussed in these articles are highlighted in this paper.
Property, and urban poverty and spatial marginalization
There is a deep connection between property, and urban poverty and spatial marginalization. Both Blomley (2009) and Baron (2004) explore this correlation from various perspectives. They base their arguments on homelessness cases as they are related to the issue of property ownership. According to their arguments, urban poverty and spatial marginalization are directly proportional.
No right to housing
The relationship between property, and urban poverty and spatial marginalization depends on the perspective taken. For instance, Baron (2004) argues that the manner in which property is viewed by the Supreme Court dictates whether urban poverty leads to homelessness or not.
She notes that Supreme Court precedents have not recognized the right to housing. If they had recognized it, then it could be possible for a legal remedy to be invoked to place the homeless somewhere they can call home. But because this is not the case, urban poverty has led to spatial marginalization and consequently to homelessness.
Property law and urban poverty
Urban poverty and property can also be related in terms of law. Freedom is viewed as the connecting fabric of these two, specifically “embodied freedoms relating to personal survival and human bodily functions, such as sleeping” (Blomley, 2009, p. 578). The actions relating to these freedoms have to be practiced somewhere and property rules regulate who is allowed to be where to do what.
The property rules, however do not allow the homeless to practice these freedoms anywhere in private property. Taking into consideration that extreme urban poverty often leads to homelessness, Blomley (2009) points out that property law antagonizes the urban poor.
The homeless are only left to use places where private property law does not govern, for example, the streets. Unfortunately, the poor faces painful seclusion when public laws are instituted in order to forbid using public places for functions such as sleeping (Blomley, 2009, p. 578). The homeless are left “comprehensively unfree” (Blomley, 2009, p. 578).
Blomley (2009) observes that the working of the property market also makes a significant contribution to the urban poverty and consequently leads to spatial marginalization. This is specifically because of “property law and its delegated forms of sovereignty” (Blomley, 2009, p. 581).
It is natural that the value of land and by extension the structures erected on it, specifically buildings, appreciate in value with time. This however is not the case for clients who hire such buildings.
The rising rents have continuously pushed renters to save less since their incomes have generally been decreasing thus increasing their vulnerability to urban poverty. The property market seems to be working in a manner that increases wealth for the owners but pushes the renters towards poverty levels.
Another manner in which property relates directly to urban poverty is given through an illustration of the hygiene wars in central Seattle (Blomley, 2009). Urban poverty can directly devalue the worth of property in a given setting. This happens when the level of poverty is so high to the level that it causes homelessness.
The homeless may go about sleeping in the streets, urinating around dark places and begging for money in the streets. Such a scenario will reduce the worth of a place and investors may be reluctant to make investment in such areas.
Central Seattle was confronted by such a scenario and its municipal authorities sought to solve the hygiene issue by setting up a hygiene center to offer services such as “showers, toilets, laundry and the like” (Blomley, 2009, p. 585).
The center was however strongly opposed being viewed as “inappropriate, threatening a number of high-profile property sales” (Blomley, 2009. 585). This illustration shows how far property is antagonistic to urban poverty.
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Blomley (2009) also notes that the lack of understanding, or maybe the need to protect property, has increased the antagonism of property on urban poverty and spatial marginalization. This has been observed in major cities of the world whereby stricter laws have been instituted against “sitting or lying in designated public places” (Blomley, 2009. p. 583).
Property owners are constantly finding ways to protect their properties from being infiltrated by the urban poor specifically the homeless. The homeless as a result are continuously being marginalized and secluded from where the properties are.
The connection between property, and urban poverty and spatial marginalization is one that is antagonistic. The Supreme Court precedents have indicated that there is no right to housing.
This makes it hard for the urban poor who are homeless to seek legal remedies for their homelessness because the law is not on their side. Property law has also been seen to push the urban poor to the edge by denying them a space to do things which are basic to their survival.
Baron, J. B. (2004). Homelessness as a property problem. The Urban Lawyer, 36(2), 273-288.
Blomley, N. (2009). Homelessness, rights, and the delusion of property. Urban Geography, 30(6), 577-590.