Monthly Archives: October 2018

Windsor, Canada Points To Affordable Housing As A Cause Of Local Homelessness, Must Therefore Sit On Its Finger

photo of Windsor City Hall
Windsor, Ontario believes that it has become a magnet for homeless people because newspaper reports either accurately or inaccurately rate the city as one of the most affordable in Canada. Whether Windsor is, or is not, affordable may be a subject for endless city council...

New Jersey Aims To Buy Up Foreclosures, Taking Banker Thumbs Off Housing Market Scales

photo of New Jersey's state capitol
Even Adam Smith, who proposed the free market theories of supply and demand some two and a half centuries ago, didn't believe the theories worked in situations influenced by monopolistic conditions. These days, deep pocketed banks hold housing foreclosures away from the market until it...

California Prop. 10 Opponents Suggest Owners Are Landlords. How Come They Ain’t Rich, Then?

Arial photo of an American suburb
'Real' landlords, own other people's homes and rent them out. Rent controls can be a brake on their profits. No wonder the 'landlord industry' in California is fighting hard against reintroducing rent controls, by way of Proposition 10 on the election ballot, as California...

New U.S. Government’s-Targeted Affordable Housing Handbook Promotes More Of The Same

There's now a sponsored publication from Governing Magazine, which offers news, ideas, and solutions to U.S. governments at all levels. Produced with assistance from Wells-Fargo,  the publication represents itself a handbook for government leaders and policy makers who must deal with the affordability crisis. This handbook is...

Toronto’s Devastating Statistical Fairness Of An Empty Lottery

How can a government, a province or state, a municipality, discharge its responsibilities to its citizens and be perfectly fair? By lottery. Everyone who enters has the same chance as everyone else, even when the lottery to all intents and purposes is empty of prizes. $10...

Negative Gearing: What Is It? How Does Make Housing Less Affordable?

photo of a real estate for sale sign with a sold sticker on it
Sections below with a light blue background are excerpts from an Australian Labor Party publication entitled Positive plan to help housing affordability Negative gearing Negative gearing refers to the situation where investors make an investment (mostly in property) that loses money in the short term (e.g....

Public/Private Affordable Housing Partnerships: A Spoon Too Short For Supping With The Devil?

photo of a spoon
'Therfor bihoveth him a ful long spoon/ That shal ete with a feend,' thus herde I seye.' (Canterbury Tales: The Squire's Tale, c1386). In more up to date English: 'He who sups with the devil should have a long spoon.' A recent Dissent Magazine article explores...

Housing Industry Fears ‘Meddling’ Giants? Fear Too, Meddling Midgets Like Alberta’s ARDN

photo of a container ship
The warnings to watch out have been echoing within North America's conventional housing industry. Take the idea expressed in an industry magazine Builder article earlier this year: that successful construction industry players will have to develop an affordable housing capability. "If builders don't, someone else will." With...

A Landlord Slurry Of Awfullness Floods Untouched Over UK Preventive Barriers

photo of a rainbow over a cityscape
Somewhere out there at the end of the renter rainbow, there exists a landlord pot of gold. Nobody has ever reached it. Most likely nobody ever will. It's a little corner of earthly paradise where a twinkle-toed landlord responds instantly to even the most...

“Everyone Delivers Houses In days, Except Here. ” So What’s The Problem, America?

3D generated image of two orange giants carrying a yellow house
The problem? That would seem to be a cozy, profitable North American building industry, set in its ways. Winds of change blowing? No problem, propagandize rather than change. An example? The traditional construction industry now appears to show compassion and concern by embracing the need...

While Home Ownership Guts Social Housing in the UK, Australia Tests A Hopeful New Ownership Model

photo of brownie towers, an Australian social housing project due to be torn down
In some western democracies the social housing experiment has been hampered by cold war attitudes, particularly in America. The national mindset: anything smacking in some way of big government and socialist enterprises could only be fatally flawed, deserving only of a slow and painful...

What Makes A Healthy Community? Art? Affordable Housing? Both? Careful Thought From Durham, NC

photo of Durham, SC neighbours helping to build a pathway bridge
Let's begin in the most intimate and familiar corner of your community: your own home. "In this new era of Artificial Intelligence, modern families will soon realize that a robotic Personal Assistant is essential to the health of their home."Neither Amazon, nor Google, nor Apple may have yet...

Who To Blame For The Absurd Notion That Private Enterprise Does Affordable Housing Best?

photo of International Monetary Fund's Christine Lagarde
Who to blame, indeed? The 'neoliberals,' apparently. For those living in countries with political parties called 'liberal',  the root of neoliberal is at least somewhat familiar, if not always helpful. This is particularly true in Canada, where the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party...

Affordable Housing Is Part Of The Prescription For Long Life In Finland

photo of an apartment building in Helsinki, Finland
Finland is back in the news.Earlier this year, Finland received attention because homelessness is going down, unlike many other western countries: From Finland, A Way To End Homelessness That Really Works  An article in the Guardian explores life expectancy in Finland. There, longevity is increasing....

Affordable Tiny Homes: Unbearably Cute? Or Just . . . Unbearable

photo of a colourful piece of needlework depicting a little toadstool home for an elf
It seems that many of us view tiny homes with romantic nostalgia — a memory of sitting on a parent's knee listening to fairy stories while agog at picture book illustrations  of elves and pixies living in red-capped two-story mushrooms. Not to mention the...

A Hurricane Tests The Myth That Affordable Housing Must Be Shoddy Housing

photo of a team from Florida Fish and Wildlife inspect housing destroyed by Hurricane Michael.
"Nuclear destruction" has been a common theme in descriptions of Florida Panhandle towns in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Multi-block stretches of flattened houses are pockmarked here and there by individual buildings that have for some reason weathered the storm. Some of the surviving houses...

Is Airbnb Jacking Up Your Own Rent?

photo of an apartment building
So you don't really care that Airbnb and similar online room and apartment booking agencies are putting strangers in your apartment building, giving your neighbour a few extra bucks. But as a renter, you should realize that the sheer volume of these bookings is actually...

San Jose Neighbourhood NIMBY: Keep The Schools, Lose The Teachers

photo of street scene in Los Banos, California at dawn
San Jose, California is looking to retain teachers in a community where teachers are increasingly unable to afford housing. The school district's long term solution? Follow in the footsteps of a number of other communities around the country and use surplus school district land....

Ben Carson Goes YIMBY: Leadership At the Top? Or Is It National-Level Followership?

photo of housing and urban development secretary Ben Carson
Ben Carson, America's Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, has endorsed YIMBY, or Yes, In My Backyard. The term YIMBY is derived from NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard) which is a visceral reaction to housing project proposals that appear to threaten in some way the...

Supports Mean Better Health For Seniors Living In Affordable Housing

Here's a story from McKnight's Senior Living about the health benefits of affordable housing with supports for elderly people. McKnight's Senior Living is an online publication out of the United States. It caters to doctors and other care professionals serving the elderly. This story reports...

The Many Colours of Nimby: Jack And The Four-plex Stalk. Or, Towers That Block The Sun

photo of fourplexes tucked into a neighbourhood in Minneapolis.
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. With space for new housing at a premium in many cities, one of the most talked about ways...

Domestic Violence Victims: Out Of The Frying Pan And Into A Bureaucratic Housing Fire

The Guardian has recently explored how domestic violence victims in the UK are assisted in escaping their misery. A somewhat surprising conclusion is that many of them are further victimized by the support system that is meant to both protect them from violence and...

The Housing Crisis Leadership Vacuum: U.S. States Step Up To the Plate

Who can build what kinds of housing, and where can they they build it? Housing policies and zoning regulations have long been a municipal affair. However, managing the growing affordable housing crisis is proving to be well beyond the capabilities of communities. Now more and...

Canmore Affordable Housing Non-Profit Escapes Alive From Govt Meat Grinder. A Cautionary Tale for All?

The Mountain Haven Cooperative must be daring to take one or two breaths of relief after reaching a settlement with the town of Canmore, Alberta, following a steady downwards struggle to avoid bankruptcy. The non-profit's major sin in attempting to create a 44 unit mix of...

Seattle Eyes Vancouver’s Modular Housing Attack on Homelessness

photo of modular housing
Builder, a construction industry magazine, predicted in March 2018 in an article — The Real Data On Entry-Level Home Buying Affordability — that if the conventional housing industry doesn't address the need for truly affordable housing, 'somebody else surely will.' And indeed 'somebody else' is doing...

Toronto: Big City Navel-Gazing Distracts From Affordable Housing Reality

photo of Yonge Street in Richmond Hill, Ontario
If you live in or around Toronto, the classic signs of a vibrant, expanding downtown core are everywhere: the condo tower boom with its thicket of cranes rising high above, the tow-away commuting streets which nobody can block during rush hour, except half a...

After Stringent Housing Choice Voucher Testing: Jury Still Out on Racial Discrimination

photo of 39 keys
An accepted weakness of the American Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Program is that it perpetuates poverty-stricken neighbourhoods with substandard schools, lacking local transportation and other social opportunities. Even without formal studies, this conclusion has been inevitable as the vouchers (also known as section 8...

From Fannie Mae, The Challenge: Healthy Affordable Housing!

photo of Fannie Mae headquarters, Reston, Virginia
The American Federal National Mortgage Association, commonly called Fannie Mae, is looking to support new ideas for sustainable affordable housing development, by announcing an Innovation Challenge, part of a Sustainable Communities Initiative. Entitled "The Challenge: Healthy Affordable Housing!" they are making a ten million dollar commitment to...

US Housing Bill Funds 2,100,000 Affordable (Not ‘Workforce’) Houses. Truth or Fiction?

photo of a homeless person's cardboard begging sign
It's the truth, actually. It has just been proposed by Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren and will join the 115 other housing bills introduced over the last two years in this 115th US Congress. Where will it join them? In the trash, of course. (Unless, as the...

The ‘Working Poor’ Who Can’t Afford Housing? Folks You Wouldn’t Expect

photo of statures of firefighters
A Trulia Research Special Report recently updated an earlier exploration of professions which were struggling with affordable housing issues. For many it's a difficult choice: either impoverished by housing and living in the city where you work. Alternatively, living further and further out of town with...

From England to New York State: Converting Empty Homes Into Affordable Housing

photo of home flooded by Hurricane Harvey
Two kinds of empty homes impact affordable housing. Some houses are empty because they are second homes, used infrequently, provide wealthy foreigners with an overseas base, or are owned for speculation purposes. This article is not about these kinds of empty homes. We're looking instead at...

City Councils as Social Housing Developers: Yesterday’s Socialist Evil, Or Tomorrow’s Hope For Affordable Housing?

photo of aUK housing project being refurbished
DIY. Do It Yourself! Wise advice to a UK Borough Council that badly needs affordable housing? The London Borough of Hackney not only thinks so, it is taking aggressive steps to act as the developer of its own housing projects, putting social housing back...

Vancouver Finally Uncorks A Major City Bottleneck. Thousands Of Truly Affordable Homes Will Flow.

photo of a speaker at a Vancouver affordable housing protest
Vancouver, Canada is a city of world class unaffordable housing. And yet it possesses some $10 billion dollars in real estate holdings which include social housing. Most big cities own land, whether tied up in productive use, 'lazy,' with room for other uses, or vacant...

Affordable Housing: What’s In A Definition?

There is an affordable housing crisis. We’ve been reading this often as we scan news stories to include in blog posts at It turns out that the term affordable housing is more than a bit slippery. Here we will talk about what it means...

Owensboro KY: Historical Place Tax Credits Help Build Affordable Housing

photo of an abandoned industrial building
Trendy condo projects often gobble up structurally sound disused warehouses and industrial buildings, particularly when they are close to downtown in a city with a hot housing market. But in the United States, it's not just gentrified market rate housing that can find financial advantage...

Affordable Housing Trust Funds: A ‘Second Home Tax’ Revenue Stream ?

In a recent article by John Healy, the UK Labour Party's Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, he contrasts the tens of thousands of children who sleep in shelters every night with those who are able to afford a second (or more) holiday home...

What Is Affordable Housing? Brunswick, MD Tries To Solve A Problem It Can’t Define

In Frederick County, Maryland, the small town of Brunswick's attempts to solve an affordable housing crisis are a microcosm of a problem facing municipalities of many sizes in many countries. Their task is made more difficult by a rapidly multiplying series of alternate realities...

The Many Colours of NIMBY: Children And Neighbours Are Not Safe

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. A new national fear is born, and NIMBY may make a claim to share the blame. If America...

California Learn From Malaysia? When It Comes to Affordable Transit Nodes, Maybe.

California's progressive drive to encourage affordable housing around transit hubs came off the rails in the Sacramento State Legislature earlier this year. Proponents of the concept, undaunted, are rallying for another push. Unfortunately, the core of their thinking has so far suffered from a fatal...

Affordable Housing Trust Funds: Two Revenue Streams For Philadelphia?

Philadelphia, like a number of other US cities, is creating an affordable housing trust fund*. How will trust be funded? One proposal has been approved by council. It is a tax on new construction. Read more about the nature of construction taxes and their strengths...

High End Techno Gadgets Will Solve World Affordable Housing Crisis. Really?

Have you ever owned an electronic watch with 3 tiny buttons pressed simultaneously or in sequence to produce a hundred functions you can't remember or access? Welcome to Multi-Function Techno-Geek World, where anything that can be imagined can be created to perform endless electronic...

India to Share Innovative Affordable Housing Technology On The Web

India has announced that it will establish a web-based 'knowledge lab' to share developments in affordable housing technologies with states and local governments throughout the country Why is this important, not only for India, but also for other countries struggling with an affordable housing crisis? Well,...

Portsmouth, NH. Work But No Workers: Affordable Housing Crisis Viewed From A Broader Context

Long live baristas! Not only let them live long, but most importantly, let them live near by. Coffee shop workers are a convenient symbol of a community's house prices gone wild. They are low wage workers who interact with a large portion of the population....

Right End Of The Stick? Buckhead Thinks Affordable Housing Solves Traffic, Not Causes It

In the gentrified Atlanta, Georgia neighbourhood of Buckhead, intrepid urban voyageurs are proposing to paddle upstream against conventional traffic attitudes. For most neighbourhoods suspiciously eyeing housing development projects, traffic congestion is a classic NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) issue. Even a house or two...

Does Every Big City Need A Modular Affordable Housing Factory? San Francisco Leads The Way

The shoemaker is sticking to his last. For 'shoemaker' read 'the conventional housing construction industry.' Their 'last'? Market rate and luxury housing. Hard to blame them. That's where they're making their private enterprise dollars, taking the risks and reaping the rewards. For the low end...

English Government Bans Cladding That Burned At Grenfell Tower

We have just received word that the government in England has announced a complete ban on combustible cladding on buildings more that 18 m high. At the time it was installed, at Grenfell Tower, it was known to be flammable. In June 2017, 72...

Forced Evictions? They Don’t Happen In A Prosperous, Civilized Country Like Ours!

Oh yes they do happen! But before facing up to the problem in our own country let's have a look at the bad news about another country's inhumanity somewhere else. Anywhere else. A convenient example: honouring World Habitat Day, Amnesty International has published an op-ed piece...
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