Affordable housing disaster resilience in the neoliberal era : the LIHTC in Galveston, TX, through Hurricane Ike
Sinel, Martin Joseph Alexander
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In this thesis, I consider affordable housing disaster resilience in the neoliberal era through an investigation of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program in Galveston, Texas, through Hurricane Ike, which made landfall there in September, 2008. Considerable research has explicated the ways in which natural disaster has intensified ongoing neoliberal pressure to shrink the welfare state and create new markets for capital accumulation, especially through the dismantling of traditional public housing. The purpose of this research was to inquire whether the LIHTC, a product of neoliberal innovation and the most significant low-income rental housing production subsidy in the United States, has produced housing that may serve as a resource for resilience for its residents in the face of these challenges. This involved the coding and synthesis of datasets and documentation from a variety of local, state, and federal entities in order to develop a detailed narrative. A high-profile struggle over the demolition and reconstruction of traditional public housing in Galveston following the hurricane served as a comparative case for the examination of LIHTC housing in the same historical geography, suggesting how features of neoliberalism were manifest in the local context. The inquiry into underlying vulnerabilities and institutional frameworks around LIHTC housing and the material history of storm impacts and restoration revealed a stark contrast with that of public housing there, though considerations of resilience remain challenged by the contingent nature of neoliberal actualization and the contradictions present within the LIHTC itself. A query of secondary sources intended to triangulate primary research findings revealed that LIHTC housing in Galveston played a significant discursive role in the struggle over public housing resilience well after the restoration of LIHTC housing and revealed latent vulnerabilities that may pose a future challenge to the resilience of Galveston’s LIHTC resident communities. The findings of this research suggest some of the specific contingencies upon which the actualization of threats to resilience may depend, challenging constructs of affordability and disaster resilience in the neoliberal context.