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Monthly Archives: February 2019

Maine’s Inclusionary Zoning: A Tinker-Toy Solution For A Brutal Affordable Housing Crisis

active construction site with equipment, workers and materials
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A useful article out of Portland, Maine does a fine job of explaining why the bloom is off the rose when it comes to that darling of equality advocates everywhere: inclusionary zoning. Inclusionary zoning creates the illusion of equality of opportunity for all classes and...

Cornwall Self-Hugs Itself Towards Affordable Housing Success

stone cottage with blue door
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It's official! (Well, somebody's version of official anyway.) Cornwall does it better. Delivering affordable housing, that is. Based on its affordable housing completions — never mind the type of 'affordable' — Cornwall  apparently delivered more last year than any other council. Or not. Depending on...

The Housing Undevelopment Department? How Rhode Island Helps HUD Devalue Section 8 Vouchers.

picture of for rent sign fresh from the printer
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A recent report from SouthCoast Fair Housing indicates that a Rhode Island resident who actually manages to obtain a Section 8 voucher will be shut out of 93% of eligible units because landlords refuse to accept them. It would be reasonable to suppose that in...

5 California Ideas For Housing The Homeless

bungalow court, pedestrian friendly low rise housing
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A California 'homelessness housing' design competition has announced winners from some 53 developers who entered a Los Angeles County innovation challenge. The winners are expected to use their prizes, which range from $500,000 to $1M, to help prove out their business or housing models that...

Reasons To Prevent Homelessness: Tales From New South Wales And North Tyneside

building in central business district of Sydney Australia, named after Queen Victoria
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The Premier of New South Wales has just announced that it will halve street homelessness in that state by 2025. The strategy? Partnerships of the best and the brightest. In the same announcement came the news that there will be no new funding. The...

Affordable Housing Details You Might Not Have Considered: Public Transit

Public transit vehicle, Luxembourg
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Affordable housing is not just a collection of construction material and land costs. It's a purse that must stretch to cover a rental or purchase . . . after any and all other essential costs have been been plucked out. Food and utility costs...

Lessons From Homelessness For Affordable Housing

Like affordable housing, homelessness has received its share of media attention and calls for action. Homelessness has also been the subject of innovative programming and research, which are influencing how to understand the issue and work to fix it. Homelessness research also suggests the...

UK Affordable Housing Targets: You Can’t Fool All The People, All The Time

dart board with bull's eye and other close shots
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The UK government has entirely oversold its public/private scheme in which Private Enterprise Saves the Day. For a couple of decades now, or so the fable goes, the broad shoulders of cheerful, selfless developers have piggybacked affordable housing into existence, successfully squelching the national affordable...

Compassion Vs. Institutionalization: Janesville Considers The ‘When A Car Is Your Home’ Issue

Signs of the times: No overnight parking. Violators will be Towed. (Or more likely, harassed by security guards or police and forced to move on.) Lawyers argue that parking lots need legal protection from trespass, theft, vandalism, etc. This applies to any lot whether it is...

A Day Late And A Dollar Short: Looking The Microsoft Gift Horse In The Mouth

Checking the mouth of a gift horse
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A recent pledge of $500 million to help build affordable housing in Seattle led to excited buzz about private enterprise stepping up the the plate for affordable housing, when governments drag their heels. A recent article in the Guardian, however, questions the legitimacy of this...

Nampa, Idaho: New Affordable Housing Factory Needs Assembly Line Robots, Not Builders

robots building automobiles on an assembly line
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There are many new and exciting things to encourage a region about its affordable housing possibilities when a new automated modular housing factory comes to town. In the case of Autovol, setting up shop in Nampa, Colorado, there is promise of 557 sq m (6,000 sq ft)...

This Year, Will Florida Keep Its Grubby Little Hands Out Of The Affordable Housing Cookie Jar?

Interior view of the House of Representatives in the Florida State Capitol
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In April of last year, we published a story about the Florida State Legislature's woeful record of plundering its affordable housing trust fund for a succession of apparently much more pressing financial issues, stretching back over a decade. Try: Ways To Kill Affordable Housing Action:...

Armed Florida SWAT Teams Surround “Homeless While Parking” Criminal

Camillus House, Miami, site of emergency services and affordable housing
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A family of sayings — bitter, sarcastic, and on far too many occasions depressingly accurate — have swept the U.S. recently: "the crime of being black while . . .". People have been arrested for what most can only describe as being "being black...

Homelessness: Not Only A Bigger Problem Than You Think, But Bigger Than Homeless Themselves Think

black couch with red pillows and a computer
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A reasonably well dressed person walks purposefully past you on the street. Are they homeless? Why on earth would you think so? They aren't huddled in a doorway under a sleeping bag. They aren't standing in the gutter cursing pigeons. They aren't engaged in toothless...

What’s In A Name? Solutions To Housing Crisis Turn On Use, And Misuse, Of Words

Words can be misused cynically, or simply by ignorance. During a local, regional or even national housing crisis, misuse of words can lead to both public and political confusion. It may seem that progress is being made on a matter of concern, when in...

Toronto: Pick Me-Me-Me! Rejected Amazon Headquarters Wannabe Bends Over Eagerly

Toronto's 'new' city hall, reflecting pool and TORONTO sign
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With New York City defector Amazon's negative-1% income tax paid (rebate, in other words) on $5.6 billion profit Amazon will pay $0 in federal income taxes for the second year in a row , at least one failed bidder for a new Amazon headquarters is...

Legal Rooming Houses: Part Of The Affordable Housing Puzzle In Toronto

Remains of rooms exposed by demolition
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The plucky Scarborough Community Legal Clinic is back in the news, reminding Torontonians about people living in rental housing that is illegal in most residential districts in the city: rooming houses. People with extremely low incomes can barely afford to live in these illegal...

Amazon Falls. How Many Outstretched Consumer Feet Were Needed To Trip A Retail Giant?

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How many New York City activists does it take to unscrew a multi-billion dollar commercial lightbulb? Not as many as one might expect, certainly not a majority of people in the state of New York. Amazon has announced that it will no longer be blessing...

Zig-Zags And Broken Field Running: Non-Profits Facilitate Housing Speculation Touchdowns

occupied coloured sleeping bag in black and white doorway with sign no sleeping in doorways
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Scratch the surface beneath Microsoft's generous affordable 500 million dollar housing pledge to Seattle. Vague on details so far, Microsoft itself points to a California project that may be a prototype for using its grant dollars to leverage far more than 500 million dollars...

Chicago Densification: A Building Industry Brain Fever? Or A True Affordable Housing Solution?

shiny hanging balance against dark background
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Upzoning! Beloved by the housing industry. Championed by the recent so-called YIMBY movement (Yes In My Back Yard).We consider YIMBY's acronym to be 'so called' because it does not reflect advocates demanding change in their actual backyards/neighborhoods, but in a notional 'every person' backyard...

Affordable Housing Details You Might Not Have Considered: Finding Two Houses Instead Of One

storey and a half clapboard house with front porch
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Affordable housing is not just a collection of construction material and land costs. It's a purse that must stretch to cover a rental or purchase . . . after any and all other essential costs have been been plucked out. Food and utility costs...

Whodunnit? Flat-Foot Inspector HUD Says NYCHA Dunnit. Court Insists On Oversight.

black and white impage of high rise public housing project in New York
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In the spirit of bumbling inspector Clouseau, Inspector HUD has turned its magnifying glass upon its own shoes, and found them . . . shiny. But Inspector HUD is not so happy with the faltering footsteps of the cash-strapped New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)....

Spending Promised Funding For Social Rent Housing Depends On Access To Land

picture of coulds taken from an airplane
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In recent years, the UK government has relentlessly pushed a public/private partnership model to build the nation out of an affordable housing crisis. As time goes by, the meagre handfuls of truly affordable housing that are delivered by these partnerships clearly do not begin to...

National Irish Success At Building Social Housing Matched With History Middle Class Housing Support

historic picture of the brand new Cabra affordable housing subdivision
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The government in the Republic of Ireland will shortly unveil new plans for affordable housing. While waiting, The Irish Times offers a review of the state's role in housing over the last century. The history begins in the 19th century. Along the way, it has provided...

Irish National Newspaper Toys Cautiously With A Fix For The Nation’s Affordable Housing Crisis

A night time shot of the Custom House in Dublin, viewed across the River Liffey
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It's an era when most responsible senior governments are scrambling to come up national initiative to tackle a global disease: the affordable housing crisis. (We'll leave aside the U.S., both because of its currently-held pride in political irresponsibility, and also because of its unflagging...

City Of Vancouver Successfully Puts Idle Homes To Work

view of downtown Vancouver from the air
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Getting on for a year ago, we published a story that, among other things, described Vancouver, British Columbia's attempts to penalize absentee homeowners who keep housing empty and off the housing market. Try: Increasing Housing Affordability: Unlocking The ‘Empty Homes’ Puzzle Vancouver's approach? A tax on empty...

Will You Live Long Enough To Find Rural Affordable Housing In The UK? Quite Probably Not.

stone circle in Avebury England
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Most people live in urban, rather than rural, areas in all developed countries. Not surprising, therefore, that an affordable housing crisis is seen as an urban problem, not a rural one. A recent UK study explores why that perception is far from accurate. Rural properties...

Alien Affordable Architecture, Modularity And The Challenge of Good-Hearted Politics

view across water of Expo 67's Habitat project
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The Challenge: More governments, both local and national, are coming to grips with an affordable housing crisis using the fashionable tools of the day. They are finding those tools wanting. Public/private partnerships reward conventional housing projects with subsidies to produce mere handfuls of affordable housing....

Human Right To Housing? Canada Sneaks In A Class Test And A Means Test

sign welcoming visitors to chiliwack, flanked by trees with pink blossoms
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Canada is a signatory to the UN-backed International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This document recognizes “adequate” housing as a right. That's left many Canadians wondering when Canada is actually going to back up this symbolic action with some solid commitment, both legislative...

San Francisco Wants Affordable Housing? Let Them Eat Bibimbap!

bibimbap in plastic bowl with spoon
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People have a way with words, and perhaps we should pay closer attention to how they are used. Buried in a proposal for the development of 'lazy land'Lazy land is an expression which suggests that a plot of land might serve a productive purpose....

Preventing Homelessness: What’s The Big Deal?

When Ben Franklin said “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, he was talking about fires. It ought to apply to homelessness as well. Yet for all of the coverage of homelessness in the media, there is very little about prevention. In...

Does Doom For Box Stores Become A Boom For Affordable Housing?

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These are not easy times for big box store realtors. Some of the biggest users of box store space are switching to Amazon and other buy-from-your living-room internet retailers. The result: growing numbers of vacant box stores sitting empty and idle, their owners stuck for...

Canada’s ‘Progressive’ Party Blue-Sky’s Massive Affordable Housing Election Promise

image of goofy bear, with electrical meter for snout
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Through the lens of current U.S, politics, Canada's dyed-in-the-wool 'progressive' party is heading for rock star status. Not that the New Democratic Party (NDP) has apparently noticed how its democratic socialist roots are being tapped to soothe disgruntled American voters who veer leftward. With a...

Kiwibuild: Pitfalls And Pratfalls Tarnish NZ Middle Class Affordable Housing Initiative

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Well, you have to hand it to New Zealand, where politicians sure know how to stage an affordable housing shipwreck. Kiwibuild! Such warm nation-embracing star power in the name! Such promise! Such non-delivery. From the very start, paper housing exploded like a confetti-cannon from the government mouth....

A Quick Look At The Future’s Self-Building Houses

image of organ with foot pedals, consoles and stops
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Imagine a home that builds itself. Not only that, when brought to a site as a packed container, it is capable of unpacking itself without any power source, using a combination of gravity and levers. Surely this is the cozy pipedream of science fiction addicts,...

Can We Say Too Much About Community Land Trusts for Affordable Housing?

garden with path and trellis in Durham North Carolina
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Actually, we don't really feel we can say too much about the potential of Community Land trusts. Just at the moment, virtually all national governments around the world seem far more concerned about avoiding the potential market crisis that may occur should the free housing...
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