Monthly Archives: April 2019

Adrift & Engineless, AU City Councils Waggle Affordable Housing Rudders

poster bearing text you are not entering a collaborative space..
Many Australian communities still lack serious affordable housing strategies. But even those with the vision and the will to tackle the problem can do little without a healthy shove in the right direction from higher government. A recent study from the University of Sydney found...

If You Build It, Affordability Doesn’t Come. Charlotte, NC, Tries Old Anew

Arial view of central neighbourhood in Charlotte North Carolina
Just build more housing, any housing, even luxury housing. Affordability will trickle down. You'll see! It's the mantra of the building industry as well as the YIMBY (Yes In Your Back Yard Although 'Your' is intended to be 'My' in the acronym, a national...

Homeless And School Association: Wisconsin’s New Normal?

Delavan Darien High School
Faced with low wages and unaffordable housing, people become homeless. Some have children. School districts find themselves struggling to accommodate students who are homeless. It's a predictable problem, and it's growing. Many jurisdictions still favour a head-in-the-sand approach. There's only a problem if you actually...

Never Mind ‘Where’s Waldo?’ Where’s Charlie? Not In The Hospital Again!

toddler in garden
Sometimes a personal perspective is the best way to bring statistics to life. This is particularly true when activists connect two complex situations together in a useful way. For example, how does homelessness impact on community health costs? Put the question under the microscope of...

World Wide Survival Wrestling: Green New Deal Versus Affordable Housing

Flow chart illustrating steps to complete an Environmental Impact Assessment
The article linked below provides a taste of battle-royals to come. On one hand are activists who champion the plight of today's children, struggling tomorrow as grownups to survive in a flood-beleaguered windstorm hell of environmental disaster. On the other are activists who paint today's children...

A Modest Proposal: See How The UK Housing Market Actually Works!

portrait of Adam Smith
It's's decision to call the following news story 'a modest proposal.' That's partly because the word 'modest' pops up in the article here and there, as in: "Industry analysts see a modest decline in rents over the next year." And it is partly because we...

Rent-To-Own And Housing Affordability: Just Who Profits?

Depending on the city you live in, affordable rental housing can be difficult to find, let alone 'rent to own' housing. However, any housing wrinkle may be worth a look during an affordability crisis. Consider this rent-to-own project on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, where...

Santa Monica Truly Affordable Housing Trickle? Nix. Not This Way.

affordable housing complex with flared roof features
What do you call a council decision to actually ban the inclusion of truly affordable housing in the city's approved housing projects? (By truly affordable, we mean housing within reach of those with the lowest incomes). Is it reprehensible? Callous? Evil? Just plain wrong? Or...

Paid Up Home In 3, Not 30, Years? How Does A Co-op Trailer Park Sound?

arial view of mobile home park
Public funding, foundation grants, sweat equity, donated land, land trusts, all these and more play a part these days in attempts to piece together affordable housing projects aimed at citizens with the lowest levels of income. Housing co-ops are another form of of affordable housing...

Affordable Housing: How Do I Cheat Thee? Let Me Count The Ways . . .

Amazon recently withdrew from its commitment to a new headquarters in New York City. The news was received as a tragedy by advocates of insatiable business growth as the fertilizer of a healthy city, and as a victory by those who believe that the...

STR Invasion: There’s Nothing To See Here . . . Please Disperse!

home in Treme, New Orleans
The movie Naked Gun created an absurdist meme with a huge, affectionate following: 'Nothing to see here, please disperse': a bland statement delivered in foreground while in background burns an explosion-wracked towering inferno. Check it out if you must on Youtube:"Nothing To See Here!" Over recent...

Poor Doors: ‘Excluding The Included’ Lives On In Snob-Ravaged Britain

Alas, everybody needs somebody to look down on. That would seem to be especially true in Britain, where inclusionary housing is recapturing English snobbery and prejudice that has long been a finely-crafted feature of quasi-public spaces. Consider the history of the public house. Privately owned...

Canada’s Unaffordability Reputation Suffers As Calgary Stampedes To A New Low

View of two storey houses from bike trail.
'It's official!' trumpets the Calgary-themed link below. Official? Who says? We'll get to that question in a minute, because it might be important to you. But if not exactly official, let's accept that Calgary is close to the bottom of the international barrel race to...

Tiny Home Living Doesn’t Have To Be A Luxury In Spain

honeycomb built by wild bees
Luxury? Who says tiny home living is a luxury? Well, says so. Or at least we point out that it very much CAN be luxury living. Try: Small May Be Beautiful, But Who Says It Is Affordable? But a company called Haibu has other ideas....

Vienna Housing Model Exhibition: Could We Get One Here, Please?

Interior view of restored Custom House Quay in the Dublin Docklands
As Dublin begins a month long exhibition of the 'Vienna Housing Model' we are forced to look on enviously from the other side of the Atlantic. It will be remarkable success story of a vibrant city built using an extremely social housing model, in...

Google Attacks! Another Toronto War-Of-The-Worlds Horror Scenario

arial view of Toronto Harbour facing east
After celebrating half a century of stumble and bumble-style planning, Waterfront Toronto stares down an accusing barrier palisade of towering residential high-rises that separates the city from its harbour. After reassuring citizens that Waterfront Toronto will make the city proud of its historic wet spot,...

Taking Control: Updates To Economics And Human Rights Thinking For Today’s Housing

protesters walking and holding signs
Can there be any benefit to affordable housing efforts in dusting off old chestnuts? This post takes a look at the spheres of economics and human rights. It also considers their practical potential. Economics In the late 1800's, workers seeking housing in industrial towns and cities...

Affordable April Fools Joke: It Only Hurts When You Laugh

view along sidewalk in Ketchum, Idaho
April 1, 2019 has come and gone, but a small town joke endures as a symbol of civic indifference towards both unaffordable housing and homelessness. Pranksters delivered ten new tiny houses to the streets of Ketchum, Idaho overnight on April 1, 2019. It was amusing,...

UK Private Landlords De-Sanctified: Eviction Without Cause Will Die

housing protest at Prime Minister's home in London, 2017
Part of the enduring myth of neo-conservatism is the idea that private enterprise has been given short shrift, thanks to decades and decades of unfair left-wing vilification. "Give private enterprise room to breathe, and they will do it better." Private enterprise saints? As a whole,...

Opportunity Zones: What Are They? Drawing Back The Curtains In The Land Of Oz

sign on chain link fence in front of demolition site
Opportunity Zones? What are OZs? How Do They Work? What can OZs do for the affordable housing crisis? Why it is that what they can do may not be at all what they will do? Ever. A recent article in Forbes helps explain why this new...

Ending Homelessness: Is There Something We’re Missing?

In Seattle, a project that began with such hope is winding down. Tiny homes were assembled on a site and made available to people who were homeless. The lucky folk who moved in had a stable place from which to take their bearings and...

San Francisco Report Digs Into Profit And Peril Of Public Banks

San Francisco City Hall, framed by pink clouds
These days, when the word 'public' is applied to an institution (e.g. public housing) it is a dogwhistle for 'socialist,' which in turn is a dogwhistle for communist, leninist, stalinist, and all the other bogeyman '-ists' that hide under the beds of aging citizens...

3D Printing An Affordable House: Hope, or Hype?

architectural drawing of floor plan
Imagine how much cheaper a house could be if it was built with a giant 3D printer! Perhaps you can't imagine, for the simple reason that it is really hard to imagine a printer that could print out the concrete foundations, the insulation, the exterior...

Small May Be Beautiful, But Who Says It Is Affordable?

24 storey single room occupancy building in the art deco style
Santa Monica City Council is not impressed with one particular class of tiny homes. Where is their sense of light-hearted romance, you might ask? Tiny homes are a charming feast for a pixie on a budget. These days, the quaint, the curious, the clever and...

Can Factories Churn Out Affordable Homes Like Assembly-Line Sausages?

six modular units designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, constructed in Milwaukee before World War I
The idea of modular housing has been around for a while. World-famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed the modular units shown above more than a hundred years ago. More recently . . . Buckminster Fuller was an architect, visionary and futurist, well-known for his promotion...

Hoard Wealth Or Uphold Service? Shrinking Churches Eye Affordable Housing

large round window above entrance to St. Matthew's church in Winnipeg
According to the National Trust for Canada, faith groups are the largest property owners in the country — not counting the federal government. But participation in organized religion is declining. Fully one third of Canada's churches are at risk of being sold for scrap. The land...

Mountain View, CA: Hardship Posting For Teachers Plays ‘Company Town’

What does the school district of Mountain View in the San Francisco Bay area share with a school district in Kitimat, British Columbia? As far as their most important employees — teachers — are concerned, both are in the middle of nowhere. An old photo from...

Hedgehogs: Nobody Else Is Hogging That Space, Why Not Affordable Housing?

Municipalities world-wide are betting on increased density, via a wide range of construction projects and zoning re-regulation, in order to create more affordable housing. A Swedish architectural firm is proposing to hedge those bets. Almost literally. The firm has a design for a ribbon of medium...

Gaaah! IAHIMBY! (It’s All Happening In My Back Yard!)

butterfly perched among white flowers
There is a remarkable worldwide agreement amongst Defenders of the Neighbourhood Faith. All sooner or later discover that they must erect verbal battlements around their modest homesteads and those of nearby residents in order to cry NIMBY to the heavens and/or municipal councils threatening...

With A 2018 Victory Over Health Care, Democrats Eye Lower Rents for 2020

bronze statue of Jimmy Carter, US President 1977 to 1981
In late 2016, with the U.S. presidential elections looming, we couldn't fail to notice that the elephant in the room that nobody wanted to talk about was affordable housing. Try The Elephant in the US Election Room: Affordable Housing. In the end, it was a presidential...

Indigestion And The ‘Irish Dream’: Not So Different From The One You’ve Swallowed

damaged black and white photo of two storey house
How did the 'American Dream' morph away from its beginnings as a celebration of self-actualization and achievement — something captured by the term "Be Best" (to steal Melania Trump's slogan for a current youth initiative)? It certainly didn't begin as a dream of detached...

Affordable Flood Plains: A Stilted Conversation

houses rising three storeys above river
With so many towns and cities built close to rivers, or close to coasts, why do we hear little or nothing about municipalities eyeing land on flood plains for affordable housing? On one hand, the answer seems obvious. Land on flood plains has always been...

“I Felt Like A Criminal,” Says Airbnb Client. Sympathy For The Devil?

For anyone involved in the hunt for affordable housing, it's hard to work up tears for short term rental (STR) clients forced to skulk around pretending to be long-lost uncle Bruce and family from far Tasmania. More and more municipalities are becoming aware that...

Vancouver Students Go Luxury To Beat The Affordable Housing Blues

snow scene with warm outdoor pool
The housing industry in North America has been reminding us ad nauseam for the past few years that it can't afford to build affordable housing.The American Housing Industry’s Addiction To Luxury Homes Is Damaging Its Health. And Ours. That's why it concentrates as much...

A Santa Barbara Affordable Housing Experiment In ‘Just Build More’

Just Build More! It's the battle cry of the American Housing Industry, as well as their fellow-travellers in the YIMBYYes, In My Back Yard. For more, try: Trendy YIMBY Affordable Housing Activists Are Sheltered In A House Of Straw movement. Relax zoning regulations, allow...

Are Big Landlords Bad For Affordable Renting? Berlin Thinks They Might Be.

view of Karl Marx allee in Berlin with operating fountain in roundabout
In Germany's largest city, unaffordable rents made an appearance on the international affordable housing stage in 2018, thanks to activists who were arrested for occupying a Berlin building to publicize their cause. Read more at Reuters: Squatters Raise Alarm About Berlin Housing Crisis Now the city is...

SF Success Requires Gentrification Plan To Include Existing Neighbours

Even California's legendary neighbourhood NIMBYNot In My Back Yard activists have had difficulty withstanding the relentless pressure for gentrification in downtown neighbourhoods. In 2015, San Francisco took steps to prevent long-standing neighbours from being overwhelmed and driven elsewhere by rising neighborhood prices. How did...

Australia’s Housing Prices Sink While Housing Hopes Sink With Them

view of eight storey apartment building from street level
For Australians, a national decline in housing prices is bringing new hope for affordable home ownership. Unfortunately, standing between hope and a new house are the banks. Housing industry pundits regularly reassure prospective buyers that building more housing will increase supply of houses and lower...

Positive Vibes For Modular Construction In New York City

five storey apartment building
It seems that modular construction, at least in New York City, has been something of a colicky baby. Consider the following hopeful-trending-hopeless headline and article from CURBED NEW YORK: Modular Construction In New York City, Once the Future, Is Fading. As it turns out, however, the fading...

Neighbourhoods: How Important Is History To An Affordable Housing Future?

A striking feature of virtually all NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard) affordable housing confrontation is the mantle of fake history draped across the defence battlements. That so-called history begins with a rosy sunrise just before rush hour. With the perfection of a neighbourhood frozen...

Poor Pay An Unaffordable Rent. But Is It Any Better Somewhere Else?

For most of U.S. history, opportunity has beckoned from beyond distant horizons. Travel towards a better future, sometimes over great distances, has been a constant national theme. Not so much any more. These days, television and the internet can dash fond hopes from a...

Affordable Housing Details You Might Not Have Considered: Universal Basic Income

speaker on stage with map of canada showing Dauphin Manitoba in background
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...

Watch Out America! Hong Kong’s Slum Island May Be Heading Your Way!

wall protecting Valetta, Malta, from the sea
After 9/11, post-apocalyptic America is slowly crumbling into a sea of fears (no thanks to the nation's current administration). And not just new fears, the embers of old worries are being fanned into psychedelic bonfires of horror. Among them: the dread that Mad Max...

Flex-Space: What Is It? What Application Could It Have For Affordable Housing?

Flex space usually refers to room within buildings that might be used for multiple purposes: an office/bedroom/den in a house, a light manufacturing unit/wholesale outlet/call centre in an industrial building. Buried within the following link are some ideas about how changing social habits could...
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