Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Cindy Lobel

Subject Categories

History | Sociology


community organizing; homeless; housing; low-income; neoliberalism; three-quarter house


Thousands of the most impoverished New Yorkers have found shelter in the unlicensed, unregulated, for-profit housing market known as the three-quarter house industry. The houses -- scattered throughout the city -- shelter individuals coming from a host of difficult circumstances: people who are formerly incarcerated, chronically homeless, and struggling with drug and alcohol dependency, unemployment, mental health conditions, and medical issues. Once there, residents are faced with rampant violations of their rights, dangerous physical housing conditions, and obstructions to recovery and reintegration. Through a historical lens, this paper argues that decades of neoliberal policies helped develop the three-quarter house industry as it exists today. These policies have had particularly harrowing effects on communities of color -- a majority of whom make up the population of three-quarter house tenants. Along with taking a historical approach, the paper explores who depends on the three-quarter house industry for shelter, discusses the various routes that lead people there, and argues that much more research must be done to adequately diagnose the three-quarter house problem. Lastly, this paper considers how policy makers, advocates, and affected communities can work together to make systemic change. The whole society stands to gain both socially and economically from the inclusion and support of three-quarter house tenants.