Monthly Archives: August 2019

Here’s Where We Cry ‘Uncle’ On The Meaning of ‘Affordable’

night time scene of narrow canal in Bruges
Just 10 months ago — a time when we were so young and naive, foolishly believing we could keep abreast of the term 'affordable.' See: Affordable Housing: What’s In A Definition? Back then, we believed that 'affordable' definitions multiplied by coupling, in which a bright young...

Vancouver Affordable Housing Activists Struggle Against CAVE Dwellers

no scralled on a wooden fench
Tired of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard)? Tired of NIMBYites? (NIMBY warriors who defend their neighbourhood battlements with fierce devotion). Well, Vancouver, British Columbia brings you relief in the form of CAVE dwellers. Vancouver is destined always to be a runner up in the rankings of...

Minnesota Faces The Fly In The Affordable Mobile Home Ointment

Perhaps one day we'll overhear disparaging remarks such as "Oh, he's just Land Trust Trash (maybe even 'Commie Land Trust Trash)" Why? Well, land trusts are a lot like trailer parks, where the so-called 'trailer trash' live. Trailer parks provide land that owners of small...

Developer Pioneers UK Affordable Housing Shell Game

empty factory building with extensive skylighting
This modular housingHouses, or components of houses, that are constructed at an off site factory and transported to their final destination. initiative intrigued and impressed us here at Sure, we knew about modular housing. We had learned that it has been around for...

Affordable Shipping Container Housing: Comfy Microhomes Or Homeless Prison Cells?

high rise office tower surrounded by empty parking lot
Quirky Architectural Think-Toy For an affordable housing solution? Or barely habitable concentration camp cage for homeless children? It would seem that shipping container housing can be both. Just as a pile of lumber is not yet a conventionally built home, a salt-stained world-weary metal box is...

UK Heavy Metal Housing: From Solo Practice To Concert Perfection

5 storey housing project built using shipping containers
The last few years have seen experimental 'cargotecture' experiments worldwide. The base of this affordable housing is the widely available shipping container, retired from seagoing duties but still full of useful life. Clever 'one-off' constructions have linked containers both horizontally and vertically to produce...

Co-living: What Is It? Who Does It? Why Bother?

drumming ceremony at sod turning for co-housing project
What is it? Co-living, in its broadest sense, means living with others. Since society has several traditions that involve co-living, not the least of which is the family, its currently growing popularity revolves around a more narrow scope: living with other people, some of whom...

A Road To Housing Affordability Can Lead Through Climate Change

floating house, Amsterdam
A scramble to protect ourselves and our environment from climate change will almost certainly spawn geographic and technological benefits that will can make housing more affordable. A recent article in The Guardian appears by its caption to be focused on one catastrophic change to habitation that...

The Many Colours of NIMBY, Hearsay Edition: Sacrificial Seniors Lure Jackals

person with walker in silhouette
Well, we've sunk so low as to offer up a hearsay NIMBY. We'd rather not, of course, but in this case ...

Affordable. Unaffordable. A Tale of Two City States, Singapore & Hong Kong

street in Hong Kong
City states have a unique advantage over cities that exist within a hierarchy of governments, where they seem to inevitably occupy a position of authority towards the bottom. City states are able to concentrate all their resources and political will towards the betterment of the...

Rental Housing Pressures Increase in American Cities. Which Can Cope Best?

skyline of portland, oregon taken at water level
These days, two pressures steer home seekers towards the apartment rental market. Plan 'A' may be to own a home, but temporary or permanent lack of a mortgage down payment steer home seekers towards Plan 'B' — the rental market. However, there has always been a...

Baby Boomers – How Do They Fare In the Housing Market?

townhouses in Toronto
A recent edition of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation's (CMHC) Housing Market Insight looks at housing trends among baby boomers in the Greater Toronto area. Baby boomers are transitioning solidly to the "seniors" age group and we've reported on senior homeowners living with...

Developer Wet (Riverside) Dream: Pull Down Austin Affordable Housing, Build Less New

skyline of downtown Austin Texas
Confused about what affordable housing really is? You are not alone. Austin City Council would appear to be more than confused, indeed thoroughly bamboozled. Which is just where any self-respecting profit-making developer would like them to be. Let's just suppose for a moment that there...

Housing For Young Aussies: Buy A Home? Bad Choice. Rent? Worse.

white bungalow with picket fence
Without a parents' basement to inhabit while saving for a house down-payment, millennial Aussies entering the housing market are facing a bleak future. Rising rents are taking such a bite out of savings that, without a huge financial gift, a mortgage down payment will...

World Population Bubble Burst: Who Will Be Left Holding The Empty Housing Bag?

image of eastern and western hemispheres from space
In terms of birth rate, the world's population may already be falling. Declining world population statistics are to some degree masked by the ongoing increase in longevity of those still alive. And when the world's population begins to fall in absolute terms, what happens to...

Plucky Norwich Council Bridges The Energy-Affordability Divide

bird's eye view of Norwich, where energy efficient affordable housing is being built
One of the arguments levelled against energy efficiency in affordable housing is the increased cost of construction. Savings realized through lower energy bills in the long term require higher construction costs up front. However, it seems there's been a breakthrough on this insoluble challenge...

Britain Looks Back from 2029 At Three Simple Steps That Solved The Affordable Housing Crisis

head shot of Chrisopher Addison, Minister of Health in England in 2019
Looking back from 2029, what were the three simple steps the government took in 2019 to solve the affordable housing crisis? Public Housing: 200,000 new social houses built per year for ten years. Private Rental Housing: Regulated with rent controls & tenant protections Home...

Houses Of The Future? Sticks Win Out Over Huffing And Puffing Wolf.

attached housing constructed with compressed laminated timber
A seven story wooden structure built in Italy was rated strong enough to withstand a 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan, which destroyed some 50,000 houses. Watch It Not Fall Down. A wooden high rise in Vancouver, B.C. was built in 66 days — cheaply enough...

Why Canada’s Rental Housing Market Should Be An Issue In The Federal Election

single storey red and white house
The CBC recently reported that the high cost of living will be biggest issue for Canadians leading up to the federal election which is scheduled for later this year. The article showcases a recent report on the the cost of rental housing, just published...

A Green Future With Housing For All? Of Course It Can Be Done. But It May Take Baby Steps

Pillsbury A factory building in Minneapolis before restoration and conversion to LEED standard affordable housing for artists
A fear looming ever bigger and nastier on the horizon is the possibility that affordable housing demands will clash head on with steps necessary to prevent an environmental catastrophe as global warming changes our sea level and our climate. "We need to be realistic. Providing...

Affordable Housing: How Small Is Too Small?

As cities grow and grow, there are only two solutions to supporting new population. One is familiar to many: suburb-surrounded cities with ever longer commutes from a hinterland stretching further and further away from the city center. The other is increasing density of living space:...

‘Schoolboy Economics’ Wrongly Validate A Housing Non-Crisis In The UK

row of one storey houses in Birmingham, England
We've seen several articles recently that address a conspiracy-theory notion of an affordable housing 'crisis'. Note in the previous sentence how the quote marks around affordable housing 'crisis' tend to call into question whether it actually exists. Is it actually nothing but fake news...

DEW Line Now Tracking Politician Threats To Unaffordable Housing

line drawing of donkey with blue and orange overpaint
The DEW Line was a series of radar stations arced across North America to provide Distant Early Warning of a Soviet missile or bomber attack. Now, the DEW Line is internet based, repurposed to warn Americans how to withstand the endless slow-motion bombardment of explosive...

A Growing Price To Pay for Trendy, Quirky Waterborne Housing

example of narrowboat on Regents Canal, London
A short time ago we explored with tongue in cheek a phenomena that supposedly originated in Thailand called 'seasteading'. It's hard to tell whether 'seasteading' — the idea of modern homesteading at sea — has attracted the attention of more than a handful of...

Street By Street Zoning: Worthwhile Affordable Housing Shot In The Dark?

two mid rise apartments buildings next to a corner store
Before we dig too far into the possibilities of street-by-street zoning, we need to get a prejudice of ours off our chests. The article linked below attributes this zoning idea to the YIMBY (Yes In My Back Yard) movement. We have a beef with YIMBY....

Chicago Ponders the Problem of Seducing Developers To Support Affordable Housing

plants and paving stone pathway on the roof of Chicago City Hall
What to do when coercion does not convince developers to participate in affordable housing projects, with the result that they wriggle off the hook by paying an 'in-lieu-of-participating' fee instead? Such is the dilemma currently facing Chicago, which indeed wants to coerce developers to include...

Outside the Box: Humboldt County, CA Thinks The Unthinkable

Has Humboldt County California gone commie? Or maybe just half as sinful — socialist? The major purpose of government at all levels is to collect individual problems into solutions for society as a whole — social solutions in other words, like garbage collection, paving roads,...

Supercharged By Boondoggle? Affordable Housing Via The Green New Deal

yellow clapboard house of some age
America faces a bugle call to arms on many fronts such as immigration and terrorism. The call for affordable housing, for all that it is a matter of pressing urgency for many, has so far proved to be something of a silent toot, particularly...

The Cost Burden Of Pursuing Distant Opportunity: Unaffordable Housing

1940's era postcard titled greeting from Williston North Dakota with sketches of the significant buildings in the community
Getting on the success bandwagon by upping stakes and moving to a new location has always been pricy. Whether it's anecdotal history from the gold rush, or more recent and reliable evidence from modern 'lands of opportunity' such as North Dakota and its boom...

New Zealand Employee Affordable Housing Supplied By An Unusual Company Town

arial shot of Ohinewain New Zealand taken in 1940
Company towns have a special relationship with their citizens. They are usually, though not always, born out of necessity: their remote location. Why create a town in the middle of nowhere? A common reason is for resource extraction of some kind. A mine, for example,...

Teaming Up To Make Housing Affordable Through Health Investments

exterior of permanent supportive housing for veterans who are homeless
Health insurers in the United States are investing to reduce direct health care costs, which affect their bottom line and profit levels. Some of those investments help make housing more affordable for citizens with very low incomes. Concerned about the rising costs of health care,...

Shaping And Renewing Australian Public Interest In Affordable Housing

picture bearing the following statement: a genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus. Martin Luther King Jr.
Affordable housing activists in Australia are licking their wounds and reprogramming their priorities in the wake of a recent national election. They had eagerly awaited a new government that at last recognized the need to address an affordable housing crisis. Instead, the electorate apparently saw...

Protecting Vancouver’s Affordable Renting: Some Alternatives

campus of simon fraser university in Burnaby, British Columbia
Two important factors are influencing rental housing in cities across North America. The 'millennial' age group is now facing the lifetime challenge of finding employment and shelter. The average millennial is unlikely to be able to immediately (if ever) afford to purchase a home at...

Explaining First-time Homelessness Rise In Boise, Idaho

house in Boise idaho
According to some, there is no housing crisis in AmericaTry: Turn Menace Into Myth: How To Bigfoot An Affordable Housing Crisis. It takes a pretty blinkered view of housing events around the country to allow an observer to ignore all the warning signs. Rising homelessness? Piffle....

UK Looks To Adopt Home Ownership Plan Based On What You Can Afford

33 baloons
Swedish construction company Skanska, in partnership with well-known furniture retailer Ikea wants to build affordable housing in Worthing, Sussex, UK. 30% of the BloKlok partnership's modular housing project will be set aside for public housing, and . . . Right. Stop the explanation there! We've heard it...

The Many Colours of NIMBY: The Soul-Sapping Indignity Of Snow Shovelling For Others

men loading snow into a truck
We've been remiss at We've lately been suggesting that new kinds of NIMBY neighbourhood defences have been few and far between. In fact, we have simply been neglecting them, tied up as they are in news reports of one or another squabble between neighbourhood residents and city councils.

The Many Colours of NIMBY: Ben Carson’s Popup Brothels

Sign on door, which reads: this is not a brothel. There are no prostitutes at this address.
We have an entertaining NIMBY-in-waiting for your consideration today, courtesy of none other than the head of America's Department of Housing and Urban Development himself, Ben Carson.

U.S. Affordable Housing Targeted By The Piggies In The Middle. How Come?

head of a chocolate pig surrounded by squares of chocolate
A ham-fisted opinion about bewildering, as well as bewildered, American conservatives.

The Future Of The Stateless, Taxless ‘Seastead’ Movement. We’ve Found It!

seagull holding empty chip bag
Many people (well, those of us at anyway) were amazed at the visionary audacity of the 'Seastead' movement. Seagoing citizens-of-nowhere would drift aimlessly about the world's oceans in sun-soaked living pods, helping solve world overcrowding and lack of housing while neither tipping their...

Topsy Turvy San Jose Neighbours: Prioritizing Car Shelter Over People Shelter

empty spaces in a parking garage
It's nice to imagine that somewhere in the world, a group of concerned neighbours might get together to protest a new parking lot, on the grounds that the extra parking space could be used for affordable housing. It probably will never happen. Almost exactly the...

Community Vs Diversity? NYC Affordable Housing Study Reveals No Right Answer

housing units about commercial businesses at street levevl
For years, the City of New York fought to keep hide a study that investigated the impact of affordable housing on neighbourhoods. A judge has now ended the secrecy. Did the city's affordable housing policy increase or decrease neighbourhood segregation over time? It seems there...

Non-Market Permanent Affordable Housing: Practical Solution Or Pipe Dream?

simultaneous demolition of multiple public housing highrises
People with very low incomes face big hurdles when it comes to affording housing. With minimal resources, they have limited housing options and little control over their housing in the long term. Unable to compete with people with more to spend, those with low...

Turn Menace Into Myth: How To Bigfoot An Affordable Housing Crisis

derelict building
How Can We Solve A Housing Crisis That Doesn't Exist? That's the headline of a recent Mother Jones article. Indeed! Why not abominalize the affordable housing crisis — send it off into the trackless mountains of Tibet to play with other abominable snow creatures. Relegate...

British Columbia Tax Successfully Cools Vancouver’s $$$$$ Housing Market

semi-inflated hot air balloon
There's a long list of cities world-wide looking for ways of reducing overheated housing markets. Vancouver, rated by some measures as the second most expensive city to live in worldwide, is one of those. But cities are loathe to put the brakes on any kind...
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