Monthly Archives: December 2018

Old News Is Bad News: Toronto Seniors Facing Consequences Of Unaffordable Housing

image of new apartment building in Regent Park, Toronto
Toronto City staff are updating the city's housing strategies, on their way to a new affordable housing plan for the coming years. We can only hope that this major North American city will begin to more seriously face the growing consequences of the 'silver tsunami'...

Drowned Cities of Tomorrow: Affordable Housing Crisis, Or Relocation Crisis?

Welcome to Overtown, Florida sign
An article on Miami affordable housing in the Huffington Post has a patently absurd title suggesting that only the wealthy can withstand the onslaught of climate change. Do Huffington Post reporters imagine that the proverbial 1% of the population with 85% of America's wealth tucked in...

Why Don’t We Plan For Slow-Rolling Emergencies When We Know They Are Coming?

Image of entrance to Ottawa City Hall
Unaffordable housing is, for an increasing many, an inconvenience. A major home life and work disruption, quite possibly. A temporary upheaval that may affect lifelong happiness, no question. But when unaffordable housing results in homelessness, the result for individuals is a disaster. Multiplied, the result...

Minneapolis Drives A Stake Into The Heart Of The American Dreamscape

Image of Minneapolis neighbourhood at night
In a remarkably lopsided Council decision, Minneapolis, Minnesota has made American history by shafting detached-house zoning in every city neighbourhood, even the most upscale and exclusive. This comprehensive decision is a crushing blow to NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) activists, banded in their local micro-armies....

True Danger But Not On The Southern Border As Trump’s Shutdown Threatens Millions Of Renters

bridges not borders protest projected on proposed wall at US Mexico border
Unlike Trump, it would seem that the majority of Americans do not see hungry latino refugees arriving at the southern US, border as a serious threat to the country. Regardless, he has shut down the Government to extort money for his giant . ....

Social Rent: What Is It? How Does It Help Us Understand Affordable Housing?

image of housing under construction
We are in an era of proliferating definitions for affordable housing. They have multiplied to the point of utter confusion, not only for those who discuss and attempt to understand affordable housing, but quite possibly for those who propagate the definitions. Articles, summaries, studies,...

Dear Santa, Please Bring More Affordable Housing To America

Riffing off an ever-popular Christmas movie — It Happened on Fifth Avenue — The CEO of a national housing non-profit offers a hopeful message for the holiday season. How do we come to deserve our national affordable housing crisis? Richard F. Burns first summarizes how the nation...

Homelessness: Ireland Tries ‘Health First’ When ‘Housing First’ Is Not An Option

Housing First, a widely promoted approach to ending homelessness, is based on the idea that people who are homeless cannot properly focus on sorting out their often complex lives unless they have a roof over their heads. There has been a gradual world-wide acceptance of...

Affordable Housing Shell Game: How Canadian Federal ‘More’ Becomes Regional ‘Less’

Image of green aurora borealis in a u shape
Federal Government interest in affordable housing for Canadians peaked after World War II and then steadily declined into indifference and neglect that has characterized that government's attitude over the last few decades. Not surprising, therefore, that the recent return of the feds to the housing...

As Garlic Repels Vampires, ‘Essence of Non-Profit’ May Ward Off San Francisco Real Estate Speculators

head of garlic
In supernatural lore, vampires would seem to be a necessary evil. Drive a stake through their hearts to get rid of them individually. Brandish garlic to keep them at a distance. But eradicating an entire class of supernatural beings? Not possible with vampires. In real...

Housing Industry Analyst: The Sorry Scope of Affordable Housing Progress

arial Image of mansions
An analysis of the growing affordable crisis in America is delivered in the article below by a housing industry executive,  Bridge Capital Markets Group's Managing Director Inna Khidekel.  Of course Khidekel looks at the problem from the perspective of the housing industry. It's not perhaps...

L.A. Explores ‘Boarding School’ For Entire Homeless Families

Image of entrance to Washington Irving Middle School in Los Angeles
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is considering a profoundly generous and undoubtedly controversial way of fulfilling its mandate to provide education for all children and youth, regardless of their economic status. Facing a growing population of homeless families with school age children, the...

The Reprieve Of The Flimsy Fly-By-Never Single-Wide Trailer Park Death Trap

image of kitchen in a mobile home
For many, many years manufactured homes just couldn't 'get no respect.' Inexpensive, certainly. Mobile? Not really. They just picked up that reputation by snuggling up to real — and real dinky — trailer homes and caravans in trailer parks everywhere. After a decade or two,...

Ontario Housing Minister: Axing New-Unit Rent Controls Will Flood Rental Housing Market With Fresh Building

Image of magican with magic wand
Yeah, Sure. In a warped example of 'those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it, the Conservative Party currently forming Ontario's government hasn't learned, so Toronto renters are doomed to repeat history. Almost thirty years ago, construction and financial industry lobbyists convinced the...

Nooo! Say It Ain’t So! Scotland Builds PPP Affordable Rental Homes Without Government Subsidy

Image of homes in Dunbar, East Lothian
Rental homes of mid-range affordability, as well social rent affordability are in the mix of a new Public/Private Partnership (PPP) project in Dunbar, Scotland. At, we feel positively betrayed. We've spent so long fraying our tempers at the seemingly inevitable PPP private poaching from...

Planning Permission Dragging On? Paris Developers Donate ‘Meanwhile’ Space

Image of person sleeping outdoors in Paris
In spite of affordable housing being an urgent crisis in many nations, there remain major, perhaps unavoidable, delays in approving property development, whether it includes affordable housing or not. Zoning negotiations, environmental assessments, site remediation, NIMBY challenges and other holdups stretch approvals by months or...

Delayed Home Ownership Ambitions Pressure The American Home Rental Market

Image of home with for rent sign in the window
Apartment List is an American private company that specializes in apartment rentals. Because of its size, it's in a position to gather broad statistics concerning rental accommodations in the U.S. Rental housing has seen little building growth in the last decades. The shortage of rental...

In Toronto, Affordable Housing Christmas Joy, But Only For A Privileged Few

Image of a rental apartment building in front of a condo under construction
I am standing 40 floors up at the window of Toronto’s few modern(-ish) rental apartment buildings. My host is a venerable and nationally respected financial expert. We are gazing out at the city condo-scape. ”See that new building,” he says, pointing to one of the high...

Affordable Housing Essentials: Internet As A Public Utility? Who Benefits?

image of court house and post office in Wilson, North Carolina
The 'internet divide' describes unequal internet access: those who have high speed broadband internet in their home on one side and those who don't on the other. It divides citizens by economic class. Broadband may not be terribly expensive for middle class households (unless...

Toronto/Google ‘Futuristic Neighborhood’ Inches Forward Through A Treacle Of Language

image of umbrellas on Sugar Beach, Toronto
Sidewalk Labs, the private partner in Toronto's waterfront 'Neighbourhood of the Future' is a subsidiary of Alphabet, Google’s parent company. The 'public' partner is Waterfront Toronto, a corporation created by three levels of government: City of Toronto, Province of Ontario, and Canada, to develop Toronto's...

Austin’s Push Towards Land Trusts: Encouraging Sign Of The Times

Image of the City Hall in Austin, Texas
In a reflection of the rapidly worsening national affordable housing crisis, city councils across America are scrambling to put together strategic plans for coping. What follows is an article highlighting a number of strategies that Austin, Texas is preparing to implement. Some of this bullet-point...

Ottawa Architecture Student Explores Tiny Affordable Homes As A True Art Form

image of sink and tub in small bathroom
Not another tiny home! And this one on wheels. Isn't that what tourists drag around the countryside all summer? Well, not quite. Not when it's designed by an architectural student with a fetish for cramming essential housing functions into unlikely places while making them attractive...

Naturally-Occurring Affordable Housing: What Is It? How Can It Be Preserved?

Image of older aparment building with three storeys
Take yourself back twenty or thirty years (or less, if strictly necessary due to age considerations) and reading apartment-for-rent ads in the newspaper (remember them?) for say, '2 bdrm apt $450 mo', and saying to yourself, 'great, that's an apartment I can afford.' That apartment...

Australia: ‘Generation Rent’ Is Fast Becoming ‘Generation Share’

image of compact kitchen
Anyone who lives in a college or university town quite probably understands shared housing. Barf on the sidewalk. Beer-bottles perched on the front step. Grass a foot high. Six bicycles chained to the porch. Loud music. Students in institutional residences long for the freedom of a...

From Vancouver, BC: Housing Unaffordablity From A Human Rights Perspective

Image of Human Rights Museum in Winnipet, Canada
In North America, the bragging rights for "Most Disgustingly Expensive Big City to Live in" are hotly contested. A perennial frontrunner in the competition is Canada's Vancouver, long a favourite for foreign investors seeking to profit from an overheated housing market. Tackling Canada's affordable housing...

Canadian Campaign To Make Housing A Human Right

Canada's national government issued a National Housing Strategy in 2017. The strategy is founded on a commitment to housing as a human right and Canada's obligations as a signatory to United Nations declaration to that effect. Now, Canadian human rights organizations are calling on the...

North American Senior’s Housing: Stealing Humanity For Profit, Or By Government Neglect?

five columns of coins of varying heights
Population aging in a number of countries has shone a nasty new light on the limitations of public/private partnerships in fulfilling the promise of affordable housing. Why? Because the affordable housing crisis is expected to get worse for seniors, partly because of the growing need...

Step 1: Place Affordable Homes On The Right Side Of The Digital Divide. Step 2? Yes, There Is A Step 2.

home computer set up with just about every imaginable peripheral
It is becoming well understood that access to inexpensive broadband internet is a basic requirement for a modern home. Society is long past 'let the poor eat dial-up internet,' as if fast global connectivity is a casual privilege of a better-off class of people,...

As Density Zoning Relaxes, Airbnb Is Poised To Gobble Up ‘Garden Suite’ Affordable Housing

Image of tiny blue house with porch
With the Airbnb wolf on the doorstep, Canada's sleepy Prince Edward Island casts a half-opened eye at its rural 'Granny-Suite/Garden Flat' zoning. The idea? Relaxing the 'relatives only and tear down after use' requirements might result in a buidlng boom of ADUs (Additional Dwelling...

Hardship Post San Mateo CA, Considers Compulsory City Gambling To Woo Employees

image of conflict of interest
Compulsory city gambling??? But how else do you describe taking general city revenue to run lotteries with housing loans as the prizes? The saddest thing about this proposal is that for 99.999% (or thereabouts) of those forced to pay for the tickets (a.k.a. taxpayers,...

Los Angeles Leans On Trustworthy Non-Profits To House The Homeless

Low rise apartments in Los Angeles
So why would a landlord ever want to rent a market rate apartment to a homeless person? It's exactly what you thought. They don't. Small and large studies in America show that a homeless renter with a section 8 voucher in hand can approach landlord after...

Too Big To Fail? Or Will Affordable Housing Boomtowns Create Megacity Bust Towns?

Boomtowns? Not necessarily the cities you might expect any more. There is a growing flight of fed-up workers from the world's great cities — people looking for less expensive housing and a better quality of life. But people alone cannot make a boomtown. There must...

Decline Of Business Resilience Linked To Lack Of Truly Affordable Housing

Arial Image of flooding in Texas following Hurricane Harvey
Resilience is an important survival mechanism for individuals and families. Resilience usually implies not just enough to survive, but more than enough. When it comes to maintaining a roof over one's head, a steady salary may be essential. But something more is needed to...

The Missing Middle In Affordable Housing: Person, Place, Both?

image of three storey apartment building
It's easy to be confused by the term 'missing middle'. At times it refers to physical structures. At others, it's about the people who live there. Evergreen, a Toronto based non-profit, has produced a document that gets to the heart of the issue. No less...

Leadership From The Top Needed To Counter Housing Threat To Irish Posperity

Image of the Ha'penny Bridge across the River Liffey in Dublin
Calls for national leadership in the face of a worldwide unaffordable housing crisis? So far, they've been few and far between, although a child using simple arithmetic could demonstrate that everywhere, the affordable housing being built by any and every method is not remotely...

Cubes of Wombat Poo: An Affordable Housing Construction Inspiration?

Image of wombat
In a natural world of a gazillion beautiful curvy shapes, one in particular stands out: wombat poo, or poop if you prefer. We'll pause here while you revert to late-preadolescence for some toilet humour giggling. Recovered now, have you? So why does wombat poo stand out?...

PPP Can’t. The Government Won’t. Can Non-Profits Fix The US Affordable Housing Crisis?

Image of historic stone house in Knoxville Kentucky
Public private partnerships (PPP) for developing and managing affordable housing have demonstrated a powerful allegiance to profit before public good in several western countries. Indeed, everywhere you look these days, private developers are the tail wagging the affordable housing dog. Subsidies or tax credits such...

Aging National Populations Now Face Unique Affordable Housing Challenges

Image of entrance to Atrium Retirement Home in Chicago
Some 70 years ago, a number of nations put their other national priorities on hold while sending a large segment of their young male population off to fight World War II. When the war ended, their return triggered 'baby booms' prolonged by postwar prosperity. As...
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