delinquent taxes. Again, this is rarely enforced. For example, a number of large landlords owe the city millions of dollars in water bills ( Tucker 1993). Yet tax delinquency is a conscious, capital-accumulating strategy connected with abandonment, as landlords both use and disuse property to displace the poor. When landlords begin to pay off taxes, this may mean they are preparing for gentrification. Governments should be more vigilant in taking into public ownership those buildings that are delinquent, and also in watching for changes in tax delinquency strategies as warning signals of gentrification.
Recommendation #4: Banking Issues and Recommendations. Government must do more to regulate the lenders who provide capital for gentrification but fail to provide it in other parts of the city. We could begin by enforcing nondiscrimination in mortgage and home equity loans. The Community Reinvestment Act, a law now on the books, requires banks to provide low-interest loans in their communities, and this should also be enforced, because the denial of credit to poorer people makes it very hard for them to own housing. There are many other models for ways that banks can help with the housing problem, including low down-payments on conventional mortgages, government-insured mortgages, loans for cooperative ventures, and refinancing multifamily units to decrease rents. Again, the crucial issue is access to credit, and government should make banks meet community credit needs.
Recommendation #5: Decommodification of Housing. Many argue that we must remove at least some housing from the speculative market and move it into the social sector, which would be to "decommodify" it. Congressman Dellum's bill, the National Comprehensive Housing Act, proposes that some housing be reconceptualized as social property and that the enormous costs linked to debt-financing be thereby removed. Numerous experiments around the country, ranging from cooperatives (some built on "sweat equity") to Cincinnati's Community Land Trust, try for limited-equity, resident-controlled alternatives. Undoing the idea that a house is more of an investment than a home might be difficult, and many layers of players have stakes in the debt-financing that Americans take for granted, although it has little to do any more with the cost of building or operating a residence. Certainly government should also work to maintain and rehabilitate existing private and public stock and to build affordable housing, which might also help to provide jobs for people at risk.
In Washington, D.C., the fact of an additional political layer becomes a problem, as much of the City Council's initially progressive legislation tends to be watered down for or battered by Congress. In spite of the support of President Clinton, statehood legislation for the District of Columbia has languished in Congress, and the prospect of immediate statehood seems unlikely. This is unfortunate, for if Washington were to become a state, it might be able to enact many of the above