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Monthly Archives: June 2019

YIGBY: What Does It Stand For? Will It Catch On?

church bathed in sunlight
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Just a quicky . . . Seems it's the silly season for acronyms. The latest is YIGBY. To get the full flavour of this new affordable housing acronym, you may wish to work up to it by reviewing your knowledge of:

Tasmania: Today’s Social Fallout From Yesterday’s ‘Business’ Of Sheltering The Poor

Nice little business you've got going for yourselves there, Australia. The Federal Government bankrolls a state — Tasmania — to build public housing. Too bad the state can't pay off the loan. Too bad? Naw. Really, it's too good! A fine piece of moneylending...

Resilient City, Toronto Style

lower section of 23 storey apartment building on Sherbourne Street in Toronto
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"A Resilient Toronto is ... Home. A place where housing is a right, and every resident has a safe, decent, and affordable place to live." Compared with stories that report conflicts between climate change and affordable housing activists, Toronto's first resilience strategy seeks to...

K-W Housing: Is Affordability-By-Transit Dream Dying A Gentrification Nightmare?

parking lot beside LRT route in Waterloo
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Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario is one of those inconvenient urban regions that glommed together without giving up its original city names, leading typists to cry out for an abbreviation. K-W is about as good as it gets. A year ago we reported on the ill-fated California Housing...

Is The Social/Public Housing Tide Finally Turning in North America?

two Edmonton police officers riding bicycles
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The stain of gang-controlled, crime-riddled public/social housing lingers on in North American public imagination. "Like Cabrini Green in Chicago," said Christel Kjenner, referring to an infamous United States public housing project, now demolished.

A California Bakery Co-op Solves Its Housing Crisis With… A Housing Construction Co-op

commercial bakery interior
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The owners of a multi-outlet collection of California baking co-ops couldn't turn its back and just shrug at the plight of its employees commuting long distances from barely affordable housing. That's because the owners are the employees. In a co-op like Arizmendi, the owners' problems...

New Jersey Non-Profit Demonstrates What Community Can Do That Government Can’t

view of Trinity Episcopal church through an archway
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When it comes to affordable housing, New Jersey's bickering between municipalities and the state have set a national benchmark for the lowest possible standard of government commitment to a growing crisis. With executive and legislative responsibilities batted back and forth in a seemingly perpetual...

Affordable Grannie Flats Are ‘In.’ Flop Houses? In Minnesota, Not so Much… Yet.

three storey brick and stucco dwelling
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Simple solutions have a way of finding themselves. Some reports suggest that at ground zero of the affordable housing crisis — the state of California — grand schemes for generating affordable housing don't yet cut it. Inclusionary zoning projects, for example, in spite of all...

Just In Time For Canada Day

night shot of skaters in front of Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg
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Very happy to report that Canadians now do enjoy a human right to adequate housing. The campaign, which affordablehousingaction.org has been faithfully covering, ended when the National Housing Strategy Act received Royal assent.

Affordable Housing Crisis: Miami Hits The Bad Times Big Time

High rise condomium development in downtown Miami
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If your city is looking to become world-class these days, unaffordable housing looks to be a promising way to get there. Sooner of later, your metropolis may have a good chance of topping somebody's hand-wringing study. These days there are a great many head...

South Bend Inconvenient Truth: More ‘Red Tape’, Not Less, For Affordable Housing

view of downtown South Bend Indiana from the air
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Our headline misuses the term 'red tape.' That usage falls in line with the way affordable housing interest groups such as the homebuilding industry are complaining about 'red tape.' These groups currently are raising an outcry over what is largely an imaginary sea of...

Markham Ontario: Affordable Housing Says Who?

townshouses in Markham Ontario
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A series of councillor exchanges reported from Markham, a satellite city of Toronto, add up to nothing much on their surface. The subject is about a set of 'back-to-back townhouses' proposed for a site that will be developed some time in the future. During the...

Spokane Police Scratch Own/Community Back By Dabbling In Affordable Housing Biz

storey and a half house with missing window
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Headline: Spokane Police To Turn 5 West Central Nuisance Homes Into Affordable Housing. Nuisance homes: one way of describing derelict, abandoned buildings that become crash pads for drug use and other anti-social behaviours. Why the name? Ask the police who spend unreasonable amounts of time and...

Scams Can Make Swiss Cheese Out Of Affordable Rent Protections

wedge of cheese with holes through
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The affordable housing crisis is creating a new class of perpetual middle-income home ownership hopefuls. They'd love to own a home, but year after year, the possibility of doing so fades as housing prices rise. This is translating into municipalities with growing numbers of...

Why Can’t California Super-Government Pass Affordable Housing Crisis Bills?

view of California Senate from visitors' gallery
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In California, the Democratic Party owns veto-resistant super-majorities in both houses of congress, together with the governorship. American governments just don't get any more powerful than this! And yet, faced with perhaps the most pressing need for affordable housing in America, California seems unable to...

Students Contribute To The Affordable Housing Crisis. Can Colleges Help Solve The Problem?

exterior view of Seneca Newnham Residence
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To say that students contribute to a housing crisis is not meant to suggest that students are less worthy of affordable housing than others. This does tend to be one side of a 'town versus gown' debate, however. Town or city councils can take a dim...

For The Birds: California Union Lawsuit To Prevent Human Housing

four dead warblers collected during a bird patrol
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On one hand are environmentalists concerned with planet's decaying health. On the other, an ever-swelling world population that requires shelter. The clash is inevitable. Environmentalists focus on human activity that threatens the life of other organisms on our planet. Unfortunately, the study of harmful human...

World Survey of Affordable Housing Industry ‘Volunteerism’ = Raspberry Time

people with raised hands, in silhouette
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A vast, worldwide, low-end hotel/motel industry specializes in providing affordable housing. Should it voluntarily take charge of solving the affordable housing crisis internationally, or in any single country? We might ask the same question about the wildly successful internet-based B&B industry.

Housing First, Helsinki Style

The Guardian has just published a story about Finland’s remarkable success in lowering the number of people who are homeless in the capital Helsinki. We’ve covered stories about Finland’s success in lowering the number of people who are homeless. The Finnish approach starts with Housing...

The ‘Double-Wide’ Concept Comes To Affordable Shipping Container Homes

house constructed from two shipping containers in a wooded area
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In the tiny, affordable house department, shipping containers seem to be always the bridesmaids, never quite the bride. The public is periodically introduced to intriguing new designs based on solid steel castaways as an affordable housing construction framework. With a sea-going life much shorter...

20-20-20 Vision: Screw The Carrot. Montreal Brings The Stick To Affordable Housing.

New housing development in Montreal
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Forget tempting financial carrots to coax developers into supporting affordable housing. Montreal, Quebec is planning to bring the big stick to multiple housing developments in the city. Incumbent mayor Mayor Valerie Plante campaigned on a '20-20-20' platform: 20% of new multi-housing developments must be social...

Best And Highest Use: Disposal of Historic Buildings For Profit Or For Community?

St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, with non-profit housing addition
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‘Best and highest use', it seems, is a land use appraisal term. Putting it bluntly into a financial context, it means ‘selling for maximum bucks.’ The term reflects a dilemma facing the Anglican Church of Canada. While the church may be able to embrace and...

Council’s Affordable Housing Duplicity: You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide

person vaping. The 'somke' obscuring people coming down stairs
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So we're shining the sweat-inducing perp spotlight on some badly behaving city council. Which one, in which country? Consider this a blanket indictment of too many municipal councils facing affordable housing crises in too many countries. Our complaint? The eagerness of municipal councils to hide behind...

NYC Mission Impossible? PPP That Builds True Affordable Housing. . . In Volume

three of the buildings in the Fulton Houses project in New York
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Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) have been a darling of neo-conservative 'leave it to the private sector,' thinking. Alas, when it comes to affordable housing in mixed income projects, they've been a bust. Sure, handfuls of  less-than-market-rate housing can be squeezed out of hundreds of market...

Footsteps Towards Canadians’ Right To Adequate Housing

Red and green maple leaves
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Canadians do not currently enjoy a human right to adequate housing, but there’s been a concerted effort over the last year to change that.See these earlier posts on the issue: Canadian Campaign To Make Housing A Human Right and Canada Squeezes Human Right To Housing...

Foreigners Needed To Buy Canada’s World Class Unaffordable Housing

Prime Minister Trudeau meeting with OECD Director General Angel Gurria
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'And the least shall be greatest. And lo, in the fullness of time, the least did indeed become both least and greatest. And they most thoroughly wished that they were not.' — A New Statistical Bible of Housing Affordability Canada, a modest and self-effacing big...

Affordable Housing Wars: True ‘YIMBY’ Can Outflank NIMBY

laneway with garages and housing
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By all means, let's hear it for true YIMBY. Hold that thought. We'll be coming back to it. True YIMBY? Does that mean there's a fake YIMBY? Of course there is! Better pause, though, for some definitions that will become important to this discussion. YIMBY is...

Lifting The Hood On Affordable Housing ‘Red Tape’

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Red Tape: Everybody hates it. Nobody needs it. When it comes to affordable housing, red tape is taking the blame for high costs. It is being disparaged by many actors — the building industry, governments, activists. So by all means, let's agree to stamp out affordable...

Pirates, Cluster Housing and Affordable Shotgun Shacks In The Deep South

view of street with 6 shotgun style houses
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An engaging personal journey into the American South touches upon the swashbuckling origins of a kind of deeply affordable housing. The author ponders whether 'Shotgun Shacks,' as they were popularly described, might be a blueprint for more modern, but still inexpensive, housing. For a little...

Affordability To The Rescue Of The New Marxists. Who Are They? The 1%, Of Course.

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Marx was a classical economist who predicted that capitalism would self-destruct, then offered some predictions about what might replace it. It was Lenin, not Marx, who proposed putting capitalism out of its misery by seeking to destroy it. So now we learn that the 1%,...

$$$ College Housing? $$ But Scarce Off-Campus? Student Union Eyes Third Way

facade of Royal George apartments incorporated in Concordia University's McConnell Library
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These days, college and university students are often burdened by loans necessary to higher education tuition. This financial problem is only growing. That's because, for those without a convenient parental home in the neighbourhood, accommodation is becoming increasingly expensive. Some schools have historically taken some...

Just Build More Housing? These Days, The Idea Rules, But Without Clothes

As a child, I attended a live production of The Emperor’s New Clothes. The Emperor met up with weavers who promised cloth of the finest quality and lightest weight. The Emperor ordered clothes made with the extraordinary cloth and scheduled a parade to display...

Imagining A Path To A Homeless Front Door

Garrison Keillor and cast of Prairie Home Companion
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'A Prairie Home Companion' radio show survived and prospered for 42 years in our age where mainstream story-telling has short-circuited the beauty of the human imagination by force-feeding imagery by way of the boob tube, and now the internet. That the program triumphed is a...

Queuing For The Social Housing Ark. Who Gets In? Theory And Practice

Cat waiting outside white building with red door
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As the flood of unaffordability sweeps across nations, humanity queues up (not necessarily two by two) for a chance to stay high and dry under social housing shelter. Not enough shelter to go round? Let's not get sidetracked by why there isn't enough. (Lack of...

American Police Take On Ugly Role As Eviction Advocates

Remember 911? That was the number you were meant to dial in an emergency if you wished to summon the police? These days, you need to be careful what you wish for, particularly if you are poor and black. In American cities, there are upstanding...

Does A High Density Planet Demand High Density Housing?

cartoon sketch of J Harvey McCarthy in car loaded with investment documents
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Rabbits, it might be said, can't breed fast enough to keep up with humans. Look at our world population increasing by the billions. Even in Australia, where rabbits are a scourge, they may be millions strong, but they don't increase by the millions, let...

Jobs-Housing Linkage Fees — What Are They? How Can They Help Affordable Housing?

New businesses often require new business buildings. New business buildings become populated with new business workers. New business workers create a demand for new housing. The logic that tracks from new business to a demand for housing is not difficult to follow. But in practice, charging a...

Green and Mean — Sustainable Affordable Housing: Why Not Try Bamboo?

colour image of scythe
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Nations already struggle to provide affordable shelter for all. How does this objective fare in the face of a new worldwide urgency to find green solutions in all aspects of human life? Will a panic about human extinction trump the human right to shelter?...
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