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Monthly Archives: March 2018

Tens of Thousands Stew In Sydney Affordable Housing Queue While Governments Squabble by Tens

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In 2014, when the Australian government sold 293 properties of public housing in Sydney’s harbour area, it promised to build 1,500 new affordable housing units. At the time, there were at least 57,000 residents on the waiting list for affordable housing. Four years later, according...

Small And Self-Sufficient: An Affordable Housing Solution For First Nations Homeless Men

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Where the road meets the water at the end of a long British Columbia fijord, the magnificent scenery of Bella Coola is little comfort for indigenous men from the community who lead a life of rough sleeping or couch surfing. Nuxalk First Nation housing...

Town Barks At Affordable Housing ‘Riff-Raff’: The Law Bites Back

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The minutes of a Massachusetts town meeting made the position of their Board of Selectmen quite clear: affordable housing dwellers are a class of riff-raff unsuitable for local gracious living standards. Wrapping this attitude around a bundle of legal challenges,  the Town of Sudbury...

Low Wage-Paying Industries Face Do-It-Yourself Affordable Housing

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Once merely a necessity for worker intensive rural farming operations and remote holiday resorts, staff housing is creeping into into communities where staff cannot afford the rents. For those employees who value privacy and personal freedom, there can be no great attraction to living, working...

Still Hope For Public Housing: Milwaukee’s Westlawn Gardens Renewal Wins National Award

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According to free market conservatives, American public housing is dead. It was the victim of its socialist anti-free-enterprise roots and of the lower class inhabitants who, in fits of depraved entitlement, have gradually trashed buildings and neighbourhoods into oblivion. However, it seems public housing in...

Housing Future? 24 Market Rate/2 Affordable In Richmond, VA, or 2 Market Rate/92 Affordable In Oakland, CA?

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With affordable housing demand far outstripping supply, what are we to make of government affordable housing incentives that produce stories like the following? "Developers in Richmond, VA are excited to be able to build 2 affordable units in a 26 unit former commercial building...

Renewal Without Gentrification? Yes, It Can Be Done.

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American cities have paid a high price for their blinkered vision over the last few decades. Most have been able to pursue significant urban renewal. But they have seen decaying inner city neighbourhoods as candidates for cleansing and beautification, failing to take good notice...

Miracles of Modern Affordable Development: 2 buyers + 1 home = 2x cheaper!

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Corporate developers (are there any other kind?) pledge allegiance to shareholders, not fellow citizens. They are compelled to maximize profits and minimize losses. If involved in a public/private partnership that includes affordable housing, it is their pretty much their duty to somehow weasel out...

The War On Unaffordable Housing: Letters From The Front

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Are minimum wage employees the victims in a war on unaffordable housing? Or are they front line troops? Speculate as you wish. The answer might depend upon how angry they are to be placed in such an impossible situation. Victims or fighting troops, their anecdotes...

Cincinnati ‘Progress’: A New Football Home, Or A Crime Against Affordable Housing?

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No, 'Cincinnati Progress' is not the name of a new city soccer team. 'Progress' is a world of flying cars, robot servants and wrist-watch computers, a future dream-state wrapped inside a word that has justified tearing down housing in American cities for decades. 'Progress'...

Why Urban Renewal Vision Needs Bifocals

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Focusing on progress and urban renewal is vital for the ever-changing nature of a city. Yesterday's housing, retail, business and industrial needs have given momentary shape to a dynamic city landscape. But what different shape may be required today and tomorrow? And yet, while planning...

Primer For Wannabe Slumlords: Affordable Housing As A Sound Investment

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A piano-accompanied black-and-white silent movie features the evil landlord terrorizing tenants, jacking up the rent, evicting mom and pop, while doing his best to seduce daughter (the hero's soon-to-be girlfriend). It can be an exhausting business, throwing about all that evil as a movie-style...

Utah: The Executive-Affordable State Leaves Its Workers Behind

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The U.S. Congress has recently completed a tax overhaul that promises a starry-eyed Christmas fairytale of sleek reindeer (corporations) which tow a bloated but bursting-with-life Santa (the U.S economy) across the winter skies, showering the huddled masses below with jobs, homes, healthcare — no...

Builder Mag Dishes On Who’s Who Affordability-Wise

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From Builder, a magazine catering to the building industry, a recent article purports to provide THE REAL DATA ON ENTRY-LEVEL HOME BUYING AFFORDABILITY  (link below). For affordable housing advocates, one might expect the article to focus somehow on the helplessness of the building industry to lower...

Miami Schools: A ‘Company Town’ Solution For Unaffordable Housing?

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Lack of affordable housing has always been a straightforward problem for 'company towns.' Almost always built in support of resource-based industries such as mining or pulp and paper mills, the principal employer often has no options for housing whatsoever at the start of a...

Opinion: Solving The Affordable Housing Crisis Requires Bad Planning

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We take our hats off to the commitment, enthusiasm and admirable intentions of Mayor Michele Martinez, Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Santa Ana, Orange County, California and her op-ed article in the VOICE of OC: Martinez: Solving The Housing Crisis Requires Good Planning (link...

Low Income Housing Tax Credit: Freddie Mac Analysis — Good Reason To Shoot The Messenger?

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Hold onto your hats, ladies  and gentlemen, this one's an absolute stunner! Freddie Mac, the quasi-government financial agency which helped to lurch America into the 2008 Housing meltdown then got bailout $billions$ as a reward, has turned its attention to rent controlled apartments. This is...

Having Your Cake And Eating It: Can Denver Neighborhood Character Coexist With Affordability?

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'Neighborhood character' is one of the most powerful NIMBY weapons that can be aimed at affordable housing. The neighborhood itself has a superficial existence in the eyes of all beholders, rich and poor, white, black or brown, passers-by or long term residents. But for...

Trust Your Affordable Housing, If You Can’t Trust National Government To Keep It

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Why does Lawford Village, Essex, need a housing trust? The answer begins with a proposed Labour government policy in 1959, one that would enshrine local council tenants the Right To Buy the housing they were renting. The policy was ultimately adopted and implemented by...

Affordable Seniors Homes And The Problem of Family Support

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Mobility is a game for youngsters: "Go West, Young Man": famous advice from another era to someone who would seek their fortune. But today it might be, East, West, North or South, depending on who was advising the young person. In the European Union, mobility...

Dollars To Help Affordable Housing Buyers: Does It Quell The Flames, Or Pour Gas On The Fire?

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Financial assistance for home buyers can come in several forms. On the surface, government cash handouts or tax relief strongly appear to make housing more affordable. But those with financial expertise on the subject are not so easily convinced. Consider a program that offers $15,000...

Selangor Copes With Market Rate/Affordable Developer Antics

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Private corporations wear a proud credo on their sleeves. "Our first allegiance is to our shareholders." In spite of this honest and forthright declaration of intent that covers virtually any and every corporate enterprise not expressly forbidden by law, governments (who are responsible to...

Social Housing At War With Private/ ‘Affordable’: A View From Trenches

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The Battle of social housing is all but lost in North America. One by one the remaining project towers fall, ill-advised 'socialist' political tendencies sharing the blame with drug-addicted, crime-riddled underclasses of undeserving people. Elsewhere in mature democratic societies, there are still signs of life...

At U.S. Homeless Ground Zero, NIMBY-Busting Legislation May Finally Toughen

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If a homelessness crisis and an affordable housing crisis is likened to a bomb falling on an American state, then California is ground zero of a nuclear explosion. 'California—no fixed address' is home to 25% of the people in the nation who are homeless, and...

Good Will Renting

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With so many people hanging on for dear life to necessities such as food, health care and housing, its easy to suppose that everyone does it with the same kind of fierce passion. Its a supposition that becomes stronger with an awareness that some familiar...

Do Homeless In America Go Where Affordable Housing Is? Or Isn’t?

Check it out, state by state. By and large, there is a consistent relationship between the states with the most homelessness and the states with the most affordable housing. Find out for yourself just what that consistant relationship is via AOL:  A map of America’s...

Four Kinds Of Affordable Housing That Can Work In A Democracy

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Social housing has been largely abandoned by democracy. Or at least by those democracies that have participated most fervently in the East-West Cold War, where socialism became viewed in the west as a kind of embodiment of evil. Did social housing projects die a natural...

Affordable Housing: Less Is More In Baltimore

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Many private/public partnerships to build affordable housing do not pass the smell test with their handfuls of affordable houses or apartments in projects numbering hundreds of market rate or luxury homes. We smell profit, boosted along by city fees, LIHTC tax credits or other...

City Fees for Affordable Housing: Crisis Fix, Or Crisis Distraction?

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School Fees, hospital fees, sewer fees, sidewalk fees: with limited options for funding to pay for new housing development infrastructure, American cities have turned to the revenue they can raise by levying fees against purchase or rental of new properties. This option is particularly...

Democrats Squeeze LIHTC Spending Increase Into Omnibus Congress Spending Plan

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U.S. affordable housing advocates have been nervously awaiting cuts to federal funding for affordable housing, thanks to several measures introduced in the new Tax Reform Bill passed in 2017. However, Democrats have successfully pressed for an increase to the Low Income Housing Tax Credits program...

British PM On Unaffordable Housing: Land Bankers To Blame

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In a recent speech committing to more British affordable housing, Prime Minister Theresa May was quick to find culprits everywhere, but not so much on her own doorstep. The government's responsibility would seem to be restricted to tweak the rules in order to stay...

Affordable Housing Rents are Affordable, Not Free. So Why Don’t They Cover Repairs?

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In a recent article, the Mayor of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island echoed a funding frustration that many lower level governments and non-governmental organizations face. Governments at all levels tend to fund project capital costs, leaving ongoing project costs to perpetual fundraising or some other...

California Transit-Linked Affordable Housing Future Muddied By Squabbling Progressives

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In California, there is currently a vision of affordable housing hubs linked by transit to urban centres. This interconnected system would providing reasonable rents and ready access to job markets without further clogging the roads with carbon polluting automobiles. Many, but by no means all,...

Bronx Attracts A Shipping Container Affordable Housing Project

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Not the ideal structure for Do-It-Yourself folks, at least those without cutting/welding skills, used shipping containers have some advantages in strength, mobility, stackability, availability and affordability. From the house pictured above on the west coast, to a new project in the Bronx on the...

Are Rental Bidding Apps Good For Housing? Jury Goes Out For A Year in Seattle

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New online apps are emerging that allow  potential renters to make competitive bids for rental apartments. It's quite easy to imagine that such apps  will fetch the highest possible prices for landlords. And it stands to reason that the owners of the app itself will...

New Haven: Will SROs Succumb To Gentrification?

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From the perspective of a global and national affordable housing crisis, its difficult to avoid shaking the head in disbelief at the sight of a city, blessed with a traditional, effective form of affordable housing, trying again and again to tear affordability down in...

Suburbia: Unaffordable Downtown Housing Eats At The Heart Of The American Dream

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We are bringing up (and often helicoptering) children in an age of smart-phones, X-boxes play-dates and supervised after school care. Letting a child walk alone five blocks to school is literally becoming a crime. In this environment, how important is the swing-set and flower...

NJ Affordable Housing Horse-Trading Is Snookered By Judge

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New Jersey towns and cities have had a long history of trying very hard to wriggle out of affordable housing responsibilities, so hard in fact that the courts have been forced to get involved. Read some background on this subject at The Inquirer: 40 years later,...

Dying For Attention: A Seattle Business Tax To Fight Homelessness

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During recent Progressive Revenue Task Force public testimony, a homeless participant stopped breathing. Following many tense moments and an ambulance to hospital, his replacement explained that the recovering victim suffered from the degenerative disease ALS and lived in a tent. Real life seldom intrudes like this...

The Affordability Crisis Overwhelms The Golden Years

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With the 'Silver Tsunami' of retired baby boomers now looming on the horizon, rising home prices and rents are erasing the promise of carefree retirement. For the lucky few with significant savings, engaging social activities from bingo to birdwatching may beckon. For those on...

A La Carte: A Piece Of Activist Art Designed For The Homeless

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Here's an easy-to-solve urban mystery: a repurposed shopping cart appears, piled high with grab bags of belongings as well as bags of various somethings which may defy description but are no doubt important to someone. The solution? Somewhere nearby, perhaps even pushing the cart, there...

NYCHA 25 Billion Repair Estimate: Bad Management Or Weird Flaw Of Human Nature?

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What is it about social housing that attracts neglect? Building Management 101 says "put enough money aside for repairs, and for eventual replacement." Notwithstanding this, New York City Housing Authority is no different from many other U.S. cities in racking up huge social housing...

Wisconsin Activists: ‘Housing First’ Needs Vital Followup To End Homelessness

Wisconsin Coalition Against Homelessness  has published a paper they hope will receive active consideration from the State Legislature. They point to the current interest in the respected Housing First concept as the starting point for eliminating homelessness. However the report exhibits a growing awareness that Housing...

Housing Justice Conference Faults ‘Back Door Gentrification’ & University Complicity

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A Charlottesville, Virginia Housing Justice Conference identified two indirect but still concerning problems which were driving up housing prices, and driving out seniors of color, including those who own their modest, affordable homes. The University of Virginia came in for criticism. Loath to destroy some...

The View From Hobart: Booming Economies Swell Jobs, Shrink Homes

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In the United States, the current Republican-dominated congress, the president, big businesses and wealthy cronies have dined out on a 1.5 trillion dollar tax break which will supposedly more than pay for itself. As well, it will reward US citizens with, not just a...

The Many Colors Of NIMBY: Bigly-Bad And Just Too In-Tents — A NIMBY Twofer

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NIMBY: Not in My Back Yard. Part of an ongoing collection of articles exploring some of the many ways that a worldwide affordable housing crisis is opposed.

American Homelessness: Sorriest Urban Scene, Or. . . Not An Urban Scene At All

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Freedom of movement is the tiniest of advantages possessed by the unemployed and unhoused. Disparaged as ‘rootlessness’, whether exercised in ambitious hope of finding work, or for survival on a cold winter night, their mobility currently appears to be threatening the social fabric of...

When is Affordable Rent Not Affordable? When The ‘Utilities Extra’ Are Too Darn Extra!

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Summer's inexpensive apartment in an older building with poor insulation and electric baseboard heating can be completely unaffordable come winter. People looking for bargains at the low end of the housing rental market are particularly vulnerable to the energy inefficiencies of old buildings. And you...

Renewable Energy in Affordable Housing: Sales Gimmick, Or Financial Good Sense?

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Progressives in particular are infatuated with renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, even as they acknowledge a need for more — much more — affordable housing. What role can these new technologies play in both owner-purchased affordable housing (for the middle class)...

Loudon County And The Rise Of ‘Please, In My Back Yard’

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Not NIMBY, but PLIMBY. Please in My Back Yard is becoming a social concern for the simple reason that the 'sense of unreasonable entitlement' underclass is growing beyond the homeless and the unemployed (barely more undesirable), through to include convenient but not absolutely essential...

Ottawa Homelessness: Bailing An Ocean, One Small, Futile Policy Step At A Time

Everyone knows you can't bail out a sea. And yet, when it comes to homelessness, city councils behave like children on a beach staring at the water with a precious sand bucket in hand and a grand scheme in mind. Ottawa, Canada, is a small...

Private/Public Partnerships: Were They Always Just A Scam?

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Darling of conservative "do it with the private sector" thinking, affordable housing private/public partnerships are now revealing just who gets 'done.' Hint: its not the developers. Sure, developers are grumbling in Brooklyn, New York, where public/private partnerships have overbuilt the luxury rental apartment, with many...

Truck-Dwellings: Affordable Housing Crisis Broadens Definitions Of A Home

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There is no guaranteed right to a home enshrined in the U.S. constitution. However, if you DO have a home, the 4th Amendment provides a number of rights of that citizen may enjoy in that home. People who own homes can be more or less...

Increasing Housing Affordability: Unlocking The ‘Empty Homes’ Puzzle

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A number of factors have been blamed for increasingly unaffordable city homes. One black sheep gaining considerable city attention worldwide is the use of housing exclusively as short term quasi-hotel rooms, a practice associated with such wildly successful ventures as Airbnb. Another more puzzling concern...

“Affordable Housing: The State Must Lead.”

During World War II, housing was devastated across Europe, all the way from Britain to Russia. Elsewhere, in countries such as Australia, Canada and the United States, the war effort restricted housing construction. Immediately post-war, reconstruction, immigration and long delayed baby-making created a population...

Today’s One Bedroom Rental? 13.5 Hours A Day 7 Days A Week At Minimum Wage Pays For It.

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Can you remember ever shaking your head at the horror of 6 day a week 12 hours a day in 19th century sweatshop factories? Guess what, for many low income people, the situation today is as bad or worse. Welcome to the world of...

US Federal Tax Cuts Spur Unprecedented Inter-City Housing Cooperation

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Cities in the American sunbelt bear a heavy brunt of the nation's homelessness, thanks to the easier living conditions for those condemned to a life without housing. Inheriting the homeless from all the across the nation might lead southern cities to look to the...

US Federal Tax Cuts Put the Squeeze on Affordable Housing Funding

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The recent great tax giveaway by President Trump and the Republican Party has provided long term delight for the wealthy. An insubstantial windfall will  blow very gently in the ear of the middle class for a few short years. Already, however, new tax legislation...

Affordable Housing=Tax Breaks+Multiple-Funders+Partnerships + . . .Oh, Screw It! Just Build More!

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That's what Tokyo has done for the last ten years — build more housing. What counts for more in a city as huge as Tokyo? Say around 100,000 units a year. But no sprawl. Dense building is part of the secret. Tokyo's building has not...

Finland Ended Homelessness, Thanks To Housing First. But Not JUST Housing First!

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In a world plagued by a lack of affordable housing, and rising homelessness, the Finnish have seemingly achieved a miracle by eradicating homelessness in their nation. The 'saint' responsible for this miracle is widely touted as the no-nonsense Housing First program, which gets homeless...

Legalizing Homelessness: A Step In The Right Direction? Or Institutionalizing A Disgrace.

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On one side of the argument those who are forced to live a homeless way of life, and feel they have human rights, too. On the other side, disgusted communities that are regularly forced put out fires, tear down unhealthy, eyesore encampments then clean up...

Can Slow and Steady Win The Affordable Housing Race?

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Some American urban regions have been slow to rejuvenate. Cities like Buffalo, Baltimore and Detroit have lagged behind the pack, apparently missing the spark needed to ignite a reinvigorated, booming metropolis.  A number of these less fortunate cities have, however, been given a unique...

In The Affordable Housing Mines, The Panhandler Is The Canary

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Emergency Alert! Deep underground, a miner's canary is suffering. The miners are at risk along with the canary! What to do? The answer is obvious. Shoot the canary. Say what? When an early warning system is sounding an alarm, surely you don't attack the early warning...

Affordable Housing Held Hostage In A ‘Two America’ Crisis

Blue city in a red state. Two competing visions of tomorrow's America. One community is thwarted by a larger region, dominated by a deeply unsympathetic population. Because of the progressive (read Democratic, blue) leanings of many modern cities, and because there are many conservative (read...

Bottomless Sinkhole Drains Affordable Houses From UK Public/Private Partnerships

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It seems that the bloom is off the rose in the United Kingdom, as local councils confront the loophole built into the nation's public/private partnership initiative to fund and build affordable housing. The loophole allows private contractors to wriggle off the hook for their contribution...

Does Older Housing Become Affordable? Is This ‘Filtering Down’ A Planning Truism Or A Myth?

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Can academic planning theory take part of the blame for a growing worldwide affordable housing crisis? It has long been proposed (and seems perfectly reasonable on the surface) that affordable housing stocks will be maintained or grow as more and more expensive new housing...

An Affordable Home Built Of Two Schnøer and a Floöka? Why Not Bring IKEA Design To An Entire House?

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Or bring IKEA design principles to entire housing estates, for that matter? Ikea flat-pack home furnishings are an economical legend in their time. So how come Ikea hasn't invaded the entire affordable housing world yet? Well, as a matter of fact it has. . . or at...

Worried You Can’t Get Student Housing? You’re Just One More Whiner With A Bad Attitude

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What do you say to a Howard University student who feels she is facing a choice between homelessness or heading elsewhere to school? If you're speaking from the lofty heights at the top of university administration, the answer is clear. 'You need an attitude adjustment'...
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