This smart, provocative look at how the American Dream of single-family homes, white picket fences, and two-car garages became a lonely, overpriced nightmare explores how new trends in housing can help us live better.
Over the past century, American demographics and social norms have shifted dramatically. More people are living alone, marrying later in life, and having smaller families. At the same time, their lifestyles are changing, whether by choice or by force, to become more virtual, more mobile, and less stable. But despite the ways that today's America is different and more diverse, housing still looks stuck in the 1950s.
In Brave New Home, Diana Lind shows why a country full of single-family houses is bad for us and our planet, and details the new efforts underway that better reflect the way we live now, to ensure that the way we live next is both less lonely and more affordable. Lind takes readers into the homes and communities that are seeking alternatives to the American norm, from multi-generational living, in-law suites, and co-living to microapartments, tiny houses, and new rural communities.
Drawing on Lind's expertise and the stories of Americans caught in or forging their own paths outside of our cookie-cutter housing trap, Brave New Home offers a diagnosis of the current American housing crisis and a radical re-imagining of future possibilities.
Urban policy researcher Lind sketches the history of housing in America and looks at emerging trends in her detailed and optimistic debut. Noting a lack of affordable housing in many cities and persistent racial disparities in homeownership rates, Lind tracks the shift from the boarding houses and apartment buildings of the 19th and early 20th centuries to the suburban sprawl of the mid-20th century. According to Lind, Americans are now moving away from the predominant model of large single-family homes. Visits to a "commune" in a Manhattan townhouse and a 324-sq.-ft. "tiny home" in a Burlington, Vt., backyard reveal the attraction of "co-living" arrangements for young professionals and a rise in "accessory dwelling units" in cities with affordable housing shortages, respectively. Lind also profiles a real estate development company in Philadelphia that seeks to keep gentrification at bay by renting to low-income residents and providing access to medical care. A congenial and well-informed tour guide, Lind balances her hopeful outlook with a sincere acknowledgement of how deeply racial and class inequalities affect these matters. Urban planners, policymakers, affordable housing advocates, and real estate developers will want to take a look.