chapter  10
24 Pages

Coding Affordable Housing: A Case Study of Frame Transformation

The second case of sociotechnical code-making to be examined is S.M.A.R.T. Housing in Austin, Texas. “S.M.A.R.T.” is the acronym for housing that is Safe, Mixed-income, Accessible, Reasonably priced, and Transit-oriented. That com - bination of descriptors derives from public talk in the city of Austin over almost a century. Although not quite as successful in scope or resolution as the ADA discussed in the previous chapter, the structure of its storyline is similarrelevant social groups interpret focal events in the city through competing technological frames. One leadership group aligned the frames of several others to produce a technical code that, in turn, regenerated the built environ - ment in a manner that benefited the urban ecology as a whole, as well as a particular group of citizens. Although the abstract structure of both cases is similar, progenitors have their own way of telling their story that highlights differ - ences as well as similarities. The case of S.M.A.R.T. Housing is told, then, in the way it was reported to us, in three distinct phases that, so far, stretch over 90 years and include the City Plan of 1928 (which established a sociotechnical context), the S.M.A.R.T. Housing code of 2000-2010 (which generated an alternative), and the AFI of 2005 onward (which still struggles to regenerate frames and conditions). Each phase tells a part of the story.