The following is a transcript of the video above, from our webinar “Remaking the Economy: A Policy Vision from the Movement for Black Lives.” View the full webinar here.

Rosemary Ndubuizu: The value of…de-commodified housing that’s rooted in gender, racial, and Indigenous justice would require that we start to unpack some very ugly truths about our economy. In this country, 20 percent of our Gross Domestic Product is housing-related. It’s all about the housing economy. From mortgages to developing [and] building these homes, we’re all very much—even our retirement, our 401(k)s—implicated in holding up the speculative investment in land and housing. One of the first steps would be that we acknowledge the extent to which we are all invested in this project of holding up property rights through private ownership. That would then require us to then pressure our national and local officials [to] redirect our financial resources to invest in the things that we value, which are cooperatives, investing in a responsive state that actually plays a redistributive role as opposed to the role that it plays now, which essentially subsidizes capital accumulation. 

From mortgages to developing [and] building these homes, we’re all very much—even our retirement, our 401(k)s—implicated in holding up the speculative investment in land and housing.

At ONE DC, one of the things we invest in is expanding and preserving affordable housing. We can talk more about the financing, and how [the financing is hindered]….But we need to invest in shifting the financial structure over time—and this will be generations—to get us away from this speculative investment and debt in housing. We would also have to think about how we’re going to build up our alternative institutions. One of the biggest historical weaknesses is that we’ve had great historical examples of co-ops, but one of the hardest things about sustaining co-ops is having the infrastructure, both the educational apparatus and the financial apparatus, to sustain these cooperatives when leadership transitions or [due to] external forces. This country is so deeply invested in private ownership that’s oriented towards profit accumulation, [that] you’ll have constant external attacks on these cooperatives….

The last thing about establishing a working-class infrastructure oriented towards cooperatives is also unpacking and developing more popular means of educating the entire American society on how we need to actually disinvest from ideas of homeownership being the ideal form of getting included in American “democratic capitalism.” That would mean challenging ideas about homeownership, which are related to this idea that there’s a hierarchy of stewardship or ownership, which would mean [getting] at our wealth generation strategies. 

For the last 50 years of this post-civil rights era, we’ve had more access to these markets, in terms of the homeownership markets. We have many more Black entrepreneurs who are using access to debt and ownership of homes as a way for them to generate their wealth…on the backs of many of us and many other working-class folks. We need to challenge this investor strategy, even amongst our own. [We need to develop]…a commitment to acknowledging the extent to which we’re all invested in it, and be honest about how we can support each other because this isn’t about shaming. We all have it. I have a retirement account as well, a 401(k) as well. But we need to think through ways we can talk to each other about ways that we ourselves are actually investing in alternatives—whether that be cooperatives, credit unions, things of that sort. Alternative institutions that are invested in cooperative stewardship over land and housing.