... one of those invaluable books that offer a new, revelatory window on familiar problems ... Her book asks the right question: How can we move beyond the corrosive and exclusionary dream of the white picket fence, and instead, safely and happily house all Americans? Yet considering Lind’s adventurous rejection of such a cornerstone of mainstream American thinking and life, her search for solutions is surprisingly provincial ... Even when her reporting demonstrates the limits of many market-driven solutions, this doesn’t seem to inspire her to think any bigger. She doesn’t explore how other countries house people on a large scale, perhaps because many successful strategies require investing heavily in public housing ... Lind exhibits only passing interest in social housing as a solution for this country, dismissing it as a 'one size must fit all' strategy ... She also overlooks the rich history of middle- and working-class cooperative housing in New York City. Lind works for the Chamber of Commerce in Philadelphia, heading its Arts + Business Council. She is an inquisitive reporter and writer, but perhaps her colleagues in Philadelphia’s business community wouldn’t welcome an investigation of such left-wing traditions.
What Brave New Home does in terms of elucidating possibilities for alternative modes of housing or even thinking about housing is often energizing. It is hard to struggle against our present when we cannot imagine the future, and Brave New Home certainly expands our horizons for how we could live. Some of these alternatives are framed by exciting questions ... Our choices are limited by the circumstances of our employment and larger income trends. And they are shaped...by practices meant to segregate and discriminate against Black working-class people in particular to keep real estate values up. Brave New Home recognizes this tension but never quite meaningfully engages with it ... The book’s unwillingness to stake a clear position on what shapes the housing landscape puts most of the alternatives it proposes on equal footing ... Brave New Home presupposes that the status quo is intractable and that the profit motive will always exist, so we might as well just find release valves that make our housing more bearable.
Lind tackles her subject with precision, on-the-ground reporting, and theoretical rigor ... Although Lind occasionally slides into the hazy territory of 'paradigm shifts' and a 'brave new world,' she mostly works from steady ground ... Not every reader will be enthusiastic about the concept of communal-style co-living arrangements (a tiny house may be more amenable), but the author delivers consistently solid arguments in favor of extended-family housing and other options outside the single-family paradigm ... A vibrant case for a host of viable alternatives to the single-family home.