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The Many Colours of NIMBY: My Back Yard is The Entire Planet!

image of 2014 Climate Change demonstration in Vancouver
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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. From North Vancouver, British Columbia comes a report of a council rejecting an affordable housing proposal. With Vancouver...

Canadian Govt Press Release Ham-Hands Their Praiseworthy Affordable Housing Commitment

Image of hotel cleaners at work
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The Canadian Federal Government is back in the affordable housing game after decades of absence. The promise of Canada's National Housing Strategy comes as a welcome relief to provinces and communities across Canada. As the federal government's housing agency, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, commits to...

In Canada, Renters Aren’t Just Nobodies. As If Anybody Who is Anybody Really Cares.

image of suburban homes in Hamilton Ontario
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In Canada it seems, anybody who is anybody owns a home. The country has one of the highest rates of home ownership in the world. By contrast, renters are either: 1) lower classes struggling to stay alive who don't really care if they are snubbed...

Upzoning: What Is It? How Will It Help Build More Affordable Housing?

Image of housing in Brooklyn
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Upzoning is a convenient way to describe a zoning change that increases the density of housing within an existing residential zone. There are a limited number of ways that urban areas can add new housing, whether market rate, or in some fashion deemed 'affordable.' New housing...

Ontario’s Evergreen Lets You Play Affordable Housing Financier

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So Evergreen has this great online video game out in Beta mode. My 9 year old and my 11 year old have gone at it for hours, game after game, and left me in the dust, natch. It all depends on the challenge, but when it...

Portland’s Ingenious Plan For Creating Tiny Home Landlords: The Movie

image of Portland, Oregon skyline
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All housed up, but no place to go. It's a growing problem for aging homeowners with limited income who own their home. They lack the cash to move, yet cannot realize enough from the sale of their home to move somewhere more suitable for...

Homeless In the UK? Join 170 Year-Long Wait List For Social Housing

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Two UK articles in the Guardian neatly bookend the depths of an affordable crisis that is far more than the national concern of a single country. First, the Guardian quotes Shelter, a charity which, among other goals, does research, and proposes and provides solutions for homelessness....

Finding Ho-Hum: Good News Stories And Affordable Progress Vs. NIMBY Nastiness

image of two homes on Jarvis Street in Toronto
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NIMBY almost inevitably marred a recent heart-warming Toronto tale of a single family's selfless gift to homeless women. A family purchased a mansion-sized house on a five lane commuter corridor skirting downtown Toronto. Then they realized something far more imaginative and satisfying could be achieved...

America’s Leadership In An Affordable Housing War: A Monty Python Dilemma?

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The scale of the affordable housing crisis in many countries is demanding immediate action. This blog has often proposed that it deserves the same kind of 'war' footing that other national crises have engendered. One obvious example is the 'war on drugs.' Whether a war...

NIMBYism: Baby-Boomer Knee-Jerk Or A National Conspiracy Against Affordable Housing?

view of Las Vagas suburb from the air
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Nobody, particularly a well-off nobody, readily embraces change that may disrupt their comfortable home and life. In that sense, neighbours who vigorously defend zoning moats which protect their neighbourhoods can be viewed with understanding, if not sympathy. However, in the face of seemingly unstoppable affordable...

Trendy YIMBY Affordable Housing Activists Are Sheltered In A House Of Straw

Photo of spinnaker housing development in battersea reach
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YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard) should more appropriately be named a finger-pointing Yes In YOUR Backyard, as YIMBY activists between the lot of them are unlikely to have enough back yards of their own to make much of a dent in the affordable housing...

From Tents Without Rents To Sheds With Beds: ‘No Thanks’ Either Way, Say Neighbours

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In neighbourly America, homelessness belongs somewhere else, it doesn't matter where. And what about homes to house the homeless? They also belong somewhere else. It also doesn't matter where. Just so long as it's not here. This conundrum and complication further stresses non-profits and government...

Gainesville’s Affordable Housing Action: Are Apologies Really Needed?

An apartment building towering over nearby residences in Gainesville, FLA
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City Councillors on one side of the table. Angry citizens on the other. Council is apologizing for "not doing things right," when it comes to the development of affordable housing plans. It's not happening just in Gainesville, Florida. It's happening everywhere, whether city councils believe...

5K Rough Sleepers, Or 121K Kids In Shelters? Fix Homelessness Only By Facing Its Reality

Photo of boy and reflected house
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For a great many people, the public face of homelessness is a dirty sleeping bag in a downtown doorway. But only a small handful of homeless people are in the public eye on downtown streets. It's true in the United Kingdom, as well as...

Affordable Housing Details You Might Not Have Considered: Food

silhouette of person carrying groceries at night
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Once, 'affordable' meant not more than 20% of gross income spent on housing. Above 20%, individual or family health and welfare was threatened. These days the threshold has been raised pretty much everywhere to 30% of gross income. In some places, where the idea of...

Pipedream Or Prescription? How Maine Government Might Loan Its Way Out Of Affordable Housing Crisis

Image of Habitat for Humanity builders
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With affordable homes at the mercy of the housing market, the basic human need for shelter is pitted against retirement savings and family wealth. The problem exists in Maine, in all of America, and countries with market housing in much of the world. Can we...

Buy A Chunk Of New Zealand Paradise? No Longer, For Most Foreigners

Picture of life sized monopoly game
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If you're looking for a piece of New Zealand's incredible scenery to purchase, you don't have to settle for a single house. Why not an entire village? Read more in The Guardian: For sale: one deserted village left behind in rush to New Zealand's cities  Alas, unless...

New Zealand National Affordable Housing Strategy? Or Bandaids, Blowing In The Wind?

image of boy playing piano
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Any citizen of a modern democracy who has weathered a change in government will be familiar with the sudden evaporation of campaign promises made by the victors. The incoming government is "shocked, horrified" at the wilful duplicity, incompetence swept under the rug, as well as...

Play It Again Sam. Cape Town, South Africa Reinvents Unsustainable Social Housing

photo of Housing Construction Sea Point Cape Town
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In pretty much all the countries in the world that have climbed into bed with a social housing experiment, an unsustainable model has been chosen for the management of this critically important form of low income housing. Capital to build? Yes. Funding to maintain and eventually...

Can Crowd-Funding Solve The Affordable Housing Crisis? East Malaysia Thinks So.

Photo of East Malaysia fishing village
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The Government of East Malaysia is taking steps to implement a world-first peer-to-peer funding mechanism that more or less cuts conventional lenders out of the financing of affordable housing. (Banks and other financial institutions might still play a role in funding a 20% down...

Not Only Is The ‘Missing Middle’ Missing, It’s Quite Likely To Stay That Way

a photo of San Francisco affordable housing
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" . . .no smart, successful, profit-making venture knowingly would dare to commit all-too scarce resources of time, talent, and capital to the 'missing middle." —  John McManus, vice president and editorial director at Hanley Wood, publisher of BUILDER magazine. There you have it. No, 'the...

Toronto’s Affordability Strategy? Goose The Middle Class Onto The Housing Ladder. Warehouse The Poor.

image of apartment block in Toronto
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Criticism of a new Toronto plan to deal with homelessness shines light upon some of the rhetoric that clouds the meaning of 'affordability'. Toronto's recent civic election rang loud with promises about tens of thousands, no, no, even as much as a hundred thousand new...

Gentrification Has Killed Shared Housing. Affordability May Bring it Back, Complete With Benefits

Image of street scene in Parkdale, Toronto
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In Toronto, Ontario, shared housing hangs on stubbornly, like weeds in a well-kept lawn. Rooming houses, boarding houses, single room occupancy hotels and other forms of shared accommodation are a sparse and faded glory of affordable housing alternatives once considered essential to every growing...

3D Printed Housing: Coming? Here? Replaces What? Can It Even Print The Wallpaper?

photo of manual printing press
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3D printing, a catchy idea, is already proving to have applications in a number of fields. Particularly catchy for cash strapped governments as well as innovative construction companies is the idea of using 3D printing as part of the solution to the global affordable...

Irish Non-Profit Tells It Like It Is: Private Enterprise Can Only Do Market Housing

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When it comes to affordable housing, the Irish agency representing non-profits, Ó Cualann Cohousing Alliance, dares to debunk the political thinking that has dominated a number of governments in Europe, North America and elsewhere for several decades. Neoliberalism assumes that shrunken, less expensive government can rely on...

Blue Mountain City Council, NSW, Invests To Kick-Start A Garden Flats Experiment

Photo of An Australian Garden Shed
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What do you call a small residence squirrelled away on the grounds of a principal residence? They may be known as accessory dwelling units (ADU's), garden flats, second suites, secondary rental units, grannie flats, in-law flats, accessory apartments and undoubtedly many more local names....

In Georgia, Now You See It, Now You Don’t: Affordable Housing That Isn’t Any Longer

photo of a funnel
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Affordable housing financed by tax credits doesn't really become unaffordable when the tax credits expire. That's because the housing never was affordable in the first place. Tax credits help the private sector build market rate homes, not affordable homes. The financial benefit of the tax...

Cross Border Shopping Now Includes Modular Housing Units

photo of a sign advertising a Quebec cheese shop
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A modular housing factory in rural Quebec province is sending more and more housing units across the Canada/U.S. border to destinations in the Boston, Massachusetts region. Long disparaged by the construction industry, modular housing units have languished in North America until recently. The drive for...

The Lightbulbs Go On In New Zealand: Oh . . . You Mean THAT Kind Of Affordable Housing

photo of a stethoscope sitting on a white coat pocket
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'Affordable' housing? Just what does it actually mean? Current confusion over the term 'affordable housing has been deliberately fomented by some of the major players in the homebuilding sector, seeking to foster a housing climate that supports their interests. Confusion certainly seems to be the...

American Elections: Citizens Speak Directly To Each Other About Affordable Housing

Photo of mail in ballot
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America's referendum system is by and large as sensible as the United Kingdom's is crazed. (Picture a brief moment in time when an island nation sets sail away from the Europe, the public gifted but a single opportunity to endorse by referendum to break...

What’s Up In Your Silicon Valley Neighbourhood Today? Zucchini. Not Only Up, But Picking

photo of vegetables
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Neighbourhood? Somebody has improved on that name to call it an Agrihood. For those looking for a home in a new housing development with green space focus, there's a new flavour of the moment: vegetable cocktail. The thrill of riding around a giant lawn in...

Why Are Palatial Dreams Not Downsized In Densely Populated Bangladesh?

photo of 27 story high-rise palace in Mumbai of India's richest man
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Tiny countries, such as Singapore, Monaco and Bermuda, dominate the list of most densely populated countries in the world. Below tenth in that list, the first sizeable country shows up. It's Bangladesh. What national aspirations could this teaming South Asian country share with the grandest...

How Can Architecture Bring Social Equity To Housing?

older photo of uk housing development designed for mixed income ownership
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Amidst a growing affordable housing crisis, what does social equity actually mean? It's a slippery concept, though many would pursue it. Or at least they would pursue different ideas of what social equity might be. What social equity clearly is not? It is not social...

Florida Hurricane Disaster Strikes Affordable Housing, Trapping Tenants In A Roofless Never-Never Land

photo of hurricane-damaged yachts
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Hurricane Michael left half of Panama City's Housing Authority apartments destroyed, and other properties accepting Section 8 vouchers in a similar state. What happens to the rights of low income tenants under these conditions? Can they be immediately evicted? Of course. Safety trumps everything, and...

Kenyan Affordable Housing Plan: How To Resist Inevitable Funding Outrage?

photo rows of roofing tiles to be used in Kenya housing construction
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A proposed Kenyan affordable housing tax offers an interesting perspective on human nature and whether precise information on government taxation can be too much information. Consider the funding of a scheme like Kenya's: to build 800,000 units of affordable 'workforce' housing for the employed and...

Aging Empty Nester? Size-Small Family In A Size-Large House? You May Have To Get Used To It!

photo of older suburban home with vintage cars
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A growing dilemma in Cincinnati: older residents who have always planned to sell up their unnecessarily large and unmanageable houses in order to downsize into a retirement home. However, when the time comes to do so, they are shocked to discover that their preferred...

Taking Urban Renewal By Storm: Climate Change Intensifies Affordable Housing Crisis

photo of rescuers helping flood victims to safety
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North Carolina climate change deniers can no doubt point to other reasons for changing weather patterns over land as well as unusual storm surges at sea. But nobody can deny the reality of the devastating hurricane damage inflicted this year in the American southeast. As...

Idaho Company Mainstreams Tin Can Living

photo of several-story house built from shipping containers
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Homes built from sturdy but no longer seaworthy shipping containers have been, among other things, a subset of affordable 'tiny house living' explorations for a few years now. Shipping containers have also been the focus of intriguing experiments in a modularized 'building-block' method of constructing...

Jupiter, Forida Experiences Affordable Housing Cheats The Good Old American Way

photo of lighthouse in Jupiter, Florida
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Public/Private partnerships are 'Fake News' bringing hope to the solution of national affordable crises in many countries. What's fake about it? The final delivery, it seems, never quite matches the private industry promise to its public funders. There must have been considerable envy in the...

Brownfields: What Are They? What Can They Offer Affordable Housing?

photo of a brownfield site in coventry, UK
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A recent UK article calls out the housing industry for its antipathy towards brownfield housing development. What is a 'brownfield' development, as opposed to a 'greenfield' one? Brownfield is the name used to describe tired industrial landscapes, no longer desired by industry, where it is often...

UK Universal Credits + Pathetic Rollout = Homelessness Disaster For Many

photo of Caxton House, London, home of the Department of Work and Pensions
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On the surface, the United Kingdom's Universal Credit plan appears to streamline government support credits and income supplements by rolling them into a single credit. That 'universal' credit replaces some or all of the following: Child Tax Credit Housing Benefit Income Support income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance...
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