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Regulating marginality: How the media characterises a maligned housing option

TitleRegulating marginality: How the media characterises a maligned housing option
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsGrant, J. L., Derksen J., and Ramos H.
JournalInternational Journal of Housing Policy
VolumeePub ahead of print
Pages1 - 21
Keywordsmarginality, media, planning, regulation, rooming house

Communities often stigmatise forms of housing targeting low-income tenants. This paper examines how media sources characterise one such form: rooming houses that provide multiple, low-cost, single-room accommodations in structures with shared bathrooms and/or kitchens. By analysing newspaper and online media coverage in Halifax, Canada, we illustrate the way the media describe the rooming house as a risky structure and its occupants as dangerous and marginalised persons requiring surveillance and regulation. Media coverage can play an important role in creating the social context within which local government fashions planning and housing policy interventions to control the size, location, and operation of unpopular housing options. In cities where market pressures drive gentrification, negative media coverage can contribute to the on-going loss of such affordable housing opportunities.

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