Hull House: Community for Women by Jane Adddams and Ellen Gates Starr

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The Hull House, is an example of a settlement housing in Chicago which was co-founded (prior to Hayden’s article) by female sociologist Jane Addams and the activist Ellen Gates Starr. At its infancy in 1889, it was deemed as “a community of university women” who were given an alternative to domestic work. Their main focus was to provide education, recreation, healthcare, and childcare amenities to poverty stricken European immigrants. According to Addams (1889), there “was no discrimination of race, language, creed, or tradition for those who entered the doors”. This is in accordance with the ideals of Hayden (1980) where she endorsed the need to “eliminate residential segregation”. In general, collective housing schemes prioritized in providing aid to underprivileged families, employed women and their children.

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On the other hand, areas of gated community housing at present in Dubai such as Silicon Oasis and Arabian Ranches are often associated with middle to upper class families. Although, these neighbourhoods boast residents of all cultures there is a clear demarcation in terms of the class of the inhabitants. These residential communities also provide a mix of commercial, communal, and day-care facilities similar to those proposed by Hayden (1980). However, these projects have a poor relation with the public transport facilities due to their remoteness and are mainly reliant on the residents’ usage of cars (daily individual transportation results in increased costs and accentuates the need for higher income levels). This makes me wonder whether the connotations regarding community housing altered over a course of time as a result of society embracing the proposals recommended by Hayden? Or was the skewed perception of the ‘self-sufficient, non-sexist community’ conjured by developers to increase value to the remote neighbourhoods (cheaper land prices) by virtue of including amenities?

Hayden (1980), also states the potential of remodelling large single-family house to become duplexes and triplexes with multiple shared amenities. Currently, intentional housing schemes such as Commonspace in Syracuse and Sector 49, Chandigarh have increased significantly due to soaring property prices as well as elderly and child care costs. According to Waldinger (2010), “Intentional communities are about creating attachment, the feeling that someone has your back” and to combat the prevalent loneliness that affects people. As a result, this system of retrofitting larger spaces to smaller units sounds alluring to different age groups regardless of gender or class to foster a sense of community. However, does the lack of privacy associated with sharing with multiple families and the systematic responsibilities entrusted to the individuals seem overbearing to the longevity of such proposals?  

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