Monthly Archives: March 2019

Amsterdam To Plug Loopholes That Gobble Up Affordable Rental Housing

pedestrian streetscape in Denver Colorado
Build on surplus city land! It's an idea growing in popularity in different countries as a way of addressing the world-wide affordable housing crisis. That crisis reflects an ever-decreasing stock of affordable housing available in the free housing market of many countries around the world. The cost...

Developers Discover ‘Missing Middle’ Housing Possible Without Subsidies

Thanks to housing industry lobbying, the affordable housing crisis that requires government subsidies has expanded upscale from traditional definitions of affordability. The gravy train of subsidies everywhere encompasses 'missing middle' housing that the middle class is searching for, but cannot easily find. But now it seems...

Ontario Pines For The Heady Affordable Housing Co-ops Of Yesteryear

view of the front of housing co-op at 60 Richmond Street East in Toronto
Social housing has been one of the few affordable housing alternatives in many countries. We're talking truly affordable rental housing here, and we're talking the massive quantities necessary to solve affordable housing crises. The term 'social rent' housing has indeed become a shorthand for...

Touristy Bar Harbor Struggles To Balance Affordable Housing With STRs

View of Bar Harbour from Mount Desert Island
Does a tourist town need affordable accommodations for citizens and seasonal workers? Or does it need STRs (Short Term Rentals) to attract tourists? For towns and cities like Bar Harbor, both are needed. Bar Harbor has failed find the balance before. Now it's trying...

Deregulation Helps Private Housing Developers Build Affordable . . . .OMG!

A constant drumbeat of housing industry advocacy targets over-regulation in the housing industry. Higher density, lower floor space, smaller lots, skip the housing inspectors — all these will allow market rate housing to be profitably built that will eventually, by some magic, become affordable....

Rehabilitating America’s Public Housing Potential. You Could Be A Nurse!

brown eyed susans peeking through a picket fence
Is there a hope for public housing in America? These days, glimmers of light appear on the horizon. In part, they reflect the failure of public/private partnerships — the great hope of many governments — to even remotely keep up with the challenge of...

Reflected In The Shiny Mirror Of Capitalism, Third World Poor See Themselves Without A Roof Overhead

If capitalism is ever to successfully embrace and uplift the third world poor, it will have to reinvent its understanding of land ownership and human shelter in a slow transformation towards whatever rewards a free market can offer an emerging nation. A sobering essay...

“There’s A Hole In My Flooring, Dear Landlord, Dear Landlord . . .

new window framed into housing under repair
In many jurisdictions, there is at least a grudging recognition that governments must ensure that tenants can remain sheltered in privately-owned housing.This includes small government that favours the private market to deliver solutions to social problems Only some form of regulation can help protect...

Capitalists Can’t Afford To Care. Boston Wants More Housing Controlled By Those Who Do

Capitalist democracies are committed to the right of all to speculate in a free housing market. But profit-taking is currently driving up housing prices beyond the reach of growing numbers of people in many countries. Increasingly, it seems that the human right to shelter...

Affordable Housing Details You Might Not Have Considered: Moving

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...

Housing First Or Homelessness Prevention? Stop! You’re Both Right

eight people painting a mural of gears on a waist high wall
There are plenty of media reports that homelessness is growing. Point in time counts document the rise in the number of people who are living outdoors or emergency shelters or provisionally housed.Provisionally housed refers to people who are couch surfing or staying temporarily with...

Updated: A Housing Way To Fight Aboriginal Tuberculosis

This article was first published in March 2018 and is updated with new information released on January 24 and March 8, 2019. Poor housing conditions in Canada's northern territory of Nunavut make tuberculosis control and eradication next to impossible. The traditional Canadian health treatment in the...

Affordable Housing Details You Might Not Have Considered: Parking

image of a full valet parking lot, taken from above
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...

Lack Of Affordable Housing Constrains Housing First Programs

In our media scans, we see calls for more affordable housing daily. As new groups of people with affordability issues come to light (firefighters, health workers and teachers, for example), other groups with affordability issues might seem to recede. People who are homeless are another...

Housing And Health: The Backbone Of Strong Communities

The NHP Foundation, an affordable housing provider in the US, is challenging others to reboot and accept homeless people as tenants. NHP argues that with appropriate supports and partnerships, this is an entirely reasonable proposition. NHP notes that housing providers can ensure successful tenancies for...

Heart-stopping Skylight Living Under Runways & Other Transport Corridor Affordable Housing Options

San Francisco Airport from a small plane
Gaze upwards through the reinforced skylight of your condo high-rise tower, one that has been tipped to the horizontal and is buried under a major airport runway. The sky darkens momentarily as the belly of a huge Virgin Space Transporter pancakes towards you and...

Affordable Housing Details You Might Not Have Considered: Application Fees

water pouring down a drain
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...

Karl Marx, Classical Economist: Have We Reached His Capitalist End of Times?

grave of Karl Marx in green grotto
No, Marx was not a socialist. Marx studied and wrote about capitalist economies, much as the father of capitalism, Adam Smith, explored the nature of free market economies in the century before Marx. (Economics 101? The law of supply and demand? That was good old...

Housing Strategies That Assist Young People To Exit Homelessness

three dimensional mural of a forest with messages printed on leaves
Students at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia teamed up to prepare a report that should help young people to leave homelessness. The students identify six different sets of experiences of homeless youth and five types of transitional housing programs. Then they matched experiences with...

Back To The Future: CMHC’s Award Winning Floor Plans For Small Houses

February 1, 2019. Homes for Canadians. The Canadian Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) 'THERE has long been an urgent demand in Canada for new, attractive designs of low or moderate-cost houses suited especially to the Canadian way of living. The purpose of "Homes for Canadians"...

New Phoenix Yacht Club Takes The Float Out Of The Affordable Boat For Artist Live-Aboards

Yacht racing has been likened to 'standing in a cold shower, ripping up hundred dollar bills.' Still, there's always the opportunity to save a dollar or two by living aboard. Now a Phoenix, Arizona project is preserving the live-aboard romance, but removing all those nasty,...

A Constitutional Barrier To Public Housing Approvals In California

California State Capitol with tree in foreground
Institutional racism at the highest level is not at all distant in America's past. Earlier this month (February 2019) Virginia's governor admitted to a youthful yearbook appearance in blackface. The outcry and calls for his resignation have been deafening, even from his own political...

Luxury Condo Boom 100, Social Housing 0: SimCity Computer Game Proposes Real Life Answers

topsy turvey buildings at entrance to a theme park
An enormously successful computer game, SimCity, has provided such a useful hands-on experience of juggling complex city-building issues that it has become a teaching tool for budding planners. However, when it comes to building a successful city, there would seem to be mathematical algorithms buried...

Affordable Apartments In Zurich: Neobrutalism(?) Rears Its Ugly Beautiful Head

six balconies viewed from above
A cynic might claim that, beyond an interesting design, there is nothing new in a Gus Wüstermann all-concrete medium-rise affordable housing project in Zurich, Switzerland. The cement is long dry on the all-concrete building style used for so-called brutalist  architecture. From about 1950 to 1975...

Vancouver, B.C. Magic Bean Counters Grow Affordability Just As High As The Market Will Bear

arial view of the six lanes of west 4th avenue in Vancouver
Vancouver's housing is currently ranked second most expensive in the world by some measures. Of course it has a reputation for unaffordability to maintain. But market rent-based affordable housing definitions can't only be blamed on Vancouver. They seem to be a kind of national...

The Futility Of ‘Micro’ Affordable Housing: No Size Too Small To Squeeze For Profit

35 mobile homes an a mobile home park
Are tiny homes and micro apartments a solution for unaffordable housing? They are often billed as such, though the evidence is scant or non-existent. A Hong Kong high rise housing unit may be as small as 8x10 feet (2.4x3 m). And while they are...

Oregon Puts The Boots (Though Soft Velvet Ones) To Landlord Bottoms

red velvet slippers with embroidery, with red ribbon ties
Needless to say, we applaud the state of Oregon, which has passed a state rent control bill, the first of its kind in America, at least in the recent past. We say this from the perspective of the entire staff at, all of...

Boston’s Community Preservation Agenda Includes Affordable Housing

Night shot of tea being poured over the side of the brig Beaver in Boston Harbour
With affordable housing now reaching crisis levels in most North American cities, symbolic housing trust funds with startup but no top up are giving way to housing funds that have significant funding streams attached. There have been a wide range of solutions, from windfall opportunities...

Let’s Hear It For The Hulks: Affordable Housing At Sea, Cruising To Nowhere In Particular

Question for cruise affectionados: where do you get to enjoy the sea air, the company of hundreds if not thousands, guarantee of no waves large enough cause motion sickness, and more lobster than you could ever dream of eating? Answer: On a years-long cruise to...

Vancouver B.C. Podiums Second In This Year’s World Unaffordability Steeplechase Cup

vacant podium used to award medals during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics
Number One? That would be perennial favourite Hong Kong, admired universally in a class of its own when it comes to unaffordability. The Unaffordability Steeplechase silverware is permanently installed on a mantelpiece somewhere in that south-east Asian super-city. Lesser cities — a entire world of...

Housing Affordability And Health: Is There A Connection?

health care rally sign: in america no one should go without health care
Does housing affordability affect health? This issue is not often explored in the media, but it's a different story in the academic literature. Health researchers surveyed over 10,000 households in Philadelphia and surrounding counties to investigate this question. Residents with high and very high housing...

Detroit Flaunts Luxury Affordable Housing For The Homeless

room with 44+ beds in a homeless shelter
A series of unfortunate events has turned into a blessing for a number of people who are homeless in Detroit. Fire devastated an elderly Detroit apartment building many years ago. It was slated for demolition. Then Detroit's economic downturn intervened. Redevelopment plans for the property...

Affordable Housing Econsplaining: No More Persuasive Than Mansplaining?

graph with two supply - demand curves
Be calm and patient, ditzy little person, and try to follow my baby step explanations of Econ 101. Yes, that would be Adam Smith Econ 101 — the LAW of Supply and Demand. LAW Get it? LAW! If you don't smarten up soon, we'll put your brain...

Why Settle For Affordable Housing When Achievable Or Attainable Housing Is Available?

Achievable Housing? Attainable Housing? The terms are cropping up increasingly in the press. So what new perspective does the use of two more 'A' words bring to national housing crises? Clarity? That might be helpful. What's Going On With Affordable? Affordable suffered a 'me too' onslaught over the...

UK Rough Sleepers: Does the Government Have A Clue How Many?

black and white night shot of person sitting on sidewalk
A great many people believe that homelessness is characterized by the "street people" and "rough sleepers" who are encountered on occasional downtown trips. This is not the full scope of homelessness. Street people and rough sleepers, visible as they may be, are the tip...

Affordable Housing & The Intersection Of Sweat, Debt, War, Good Will, And Where’s Waldo?

Set 1: Construction Labour Where's Waldo? He's the guy you can't find in the affordable housing big picture — the one with the hammer in his hand. Set 1 is the massive amount of conventional construction labour needed needed to build the millions of affordable...

UCLA Launches New Program For Affordable Housing

scuplture composed of sections of UCLA coat of arms
If you are someone toiling in the trenches to develop affordable housing, you'll know it's a complex business, with a fair bit of learn-as-you-go. You've probably seen enough professional education offerings from universities to paper several units, but here's one that might actually be on...

High Income Earners Add To Affordable Housing Rental Woes

Apartment List has just published a report documenting an explosion of higher income renters in the United States. Rental households earning more than $100,000 (US) increased by 48% from 2008 to 2017 from 3.8 million to 5.7 million respectively. Where are these renters finding units?...

Rent Suddenly Doubled? Under Oregon’s New Rent Controls, ‘Suddenly’ Means More Like Ten Years

now renting sign and bank of 19 rural delivery mailboxes
Proposition 10 was a much watched California referendum in the 2018 U.S. elections. Its purpose: to reintroduce of rent controls in a state where the affordable housing crisis is acute and rental housing is becoming more and more unaffordable. A hard fought battle played out...

The Affordable Home-Loving Politician’s Easy Oopsy. Where’s Waldo?

Construction worker's helmet covered with stickers
Politics is the art of promising the earth and then delivering a sympathetic next-to-nothing. But only until the next election rolls around. Then it's all back on the table again. The affordable housing crisis has been brewing for so long that politicians have been handed...

More Affordable Housing? In Some Places, Taxing May Be More Effective Than Building

Attached cottages in the Cotswolds, England, originally constructed in the 14th century
Vancouver, British Columbia recently reported qualified success in taxing empty housing. Try: City Of Vancouver Successfully Puts Idle Homes To Work A recent study in the United Kingdom examines the potential to increase the supply of rental housing by taxing empty houses and/or forcing owners...

Charlotte Fixed Income Homeowners: Kneecapped By Rising Property Values?

So you own a home, it's partly or fully paid off, and its value is rising. Should you feel more secure in your newfound wealth? House proud, and comfortable enough to do a little renovation? Not if you live in a downtown low income neighbourhood and...
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