Colorado College Assistant Professor of Sociology Prentiss Dantzler, a housing policy scholar, has been named a 2019-20 U.S. Fulbright Scholar. He will spend this fall researching the various ways the Canadian government supplies housing for low-income populations while in residence in the Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto.
“I have studied public housing since my days in graduate school,” says Dantzler. “Growing up in Philadelphia, home of the fourth largest housing authority in the United States, I remember going by public housing, commonly known as the projects, on my way to and from school. While I did not live in public housing, I had many friends that did. Years later, when I return home to visit family, I am constantly reminded that the projects as I use to know them are long gone.”
He notes that this change in how the U.S. government supplies housing has largely shifted to voucher programs in which the government supplies a financial subsidy to low-income families versus a housing unit.
“Families now have to find an affordable housing unit in the private market, which are few and far between, leaving many people without a place to call home," he says. "Having visited Toronto over the past few years, I’ve noticed that they still have a large amount of public housing as compared to other cities in the U.S. This has largely sparked my interest in the ways in which different countries address issues around housing affordability.
“Understanding the length of time people stay in public housing, commonly known as ‘housing spells,’ helps policymakers, activists, and scholars alike to understand many issues related to housing affordability,” says Dantzler.
Thus his project, titled “Housing Spells Among Public Housing Residents in Toronto, Canada,” will explore:
- Why does Toronto have so much public housing?
- Can people stay there as long as they want or do they force people out?
- If they leave public housing, where do they go?
- As neighboring Western countries, why does Canada embrace public housing and why does the U.S. not?“
As a neighboring country, Canada provides a similar, but different understanding of this larger question of whether or not the government should supply housing for the poor. For me, the question is not should, but how,” he says.
Notes Dantzler, “Both countries are dealing with issues around housing affordability, yet offer different solutions. Looking into the dynamics should help each country in their quest to provide every person with a place to call home.”