Monthly Archives: October 2019

Live In A ‘Parasitic’ Home? Don’t Say ‘Ick’ Or ‘Euuw,’ It Might Well Be Affordable

A wasp's nest inside, or one might say parasitic to, a house
In the market for a 'parasitic' home? It might be a tough sell with such a name. People tend to think of parasites as bad, even though everyone is host to millions of parasites living inside our guts, helping with digestion and performing other...

Thinking Big About Small Spaces

An ornate caravan sitting in a Belgian field
Do you want to help out the Extinction Rebellion by reducing your fooptrint on our planet? Have you no ambition to live in a multi-thousand square foot home with walk-in closets? Are you prepared to trade down to a home that pretty much...

America, Too, Please Note: London UK Mayor On the Value of Public Housing

House in the Becontree Estate, South London, UK, once the largest housing estate in Europe
The Mayor of London is himself an example of the benefits of public housing, largely abandoned as unworkable in America. He grew up in one, takes pride in the fact and has great affection for their value, not only for individual families, but in...

Will Award Make UK Social Housing Tenants House Proud?

accreditation sign for considerate contractors posted at construction site in Norwich
Some council house tenants in Norwich, UK, recently woke to discover they are living in homes with award-winning style. We're not talking about 'top of this year's public housing,' we're talking about the annual Royal Institute of British Architects prize for architecture in the...

The Many Colours of YIMBY: Yes! And Please Hurry Up About It!

an abandoned house in Santa Clara
With residents understandably concerned about what goes into and out of their neighbourhood, its only natural that there are a lot more 'no's that 'yes's to proposed changes.

With the State Paving The Way, San Francisco Plans A ‘People’s Bank’

1890 cartoon of farmer sitting on a gate, trapping 2 capitalist pigs, labelled 'gang politician and 'profiteer'
In April of this year, we featured a post on the City of Los Angeles's flirtation with the idea of a public bankPublic Banks: What Are They? What Might They Offer Affordable Housing?. Back then, it was a serious, if somewhat academic, flirtation because California State...

Is It Affordable? Dodging About In London UK’s Hodgepoge Of Dodgy Definitions

Long Mayor Sadiq Khan speaking at Eid Festival in Trafalgar Square, June 2019
Bamboozled by dodgy definitions of affordable housing, the City of London somehow has recently managed to slither away from building any truly affordable housing at all. But that was then, during the term as Mayor of London of Boris Johnson, now UK prime minister. This...

High Rise Fires: Rethinking ‘Stay Put.’ Can There Be An Escape Route?

Two years after the Grenfell Tower disaster, the London Fire Commissioner ultimately responsible for how the fire was fought is advocating a serious review of 'Stay Put' advice to residents. Many who live or have lived in a modern high rise understand the concept of...

UK Builders See Brownfields, Self-Build, High Rise Affordable Opportunities

Influenced perhaps by its physical location in North America, finds itself in constant pushback against a simple-minded housing industry view: if governments would only eliminate regulations, builders would be able to build like crazy. The mechanisms of the free market would in turn...

Berlin Local Government Tackles City Affordable Housing Crisis

apartment buildings along Karl Marx Allee in Berlin
Quite possibly Americans will be horrified by the following phrase from a press release: "... local government embarked on the path of re-nationalizing apartments by buying 670 flats at the Karl Marx Allee." It contains not only the word 'nationalizing' but also the mention of...

UK Quantifies An Immense And Intolerable Grey Area Between Housed And Homeless

houses along a street in England
"Lucy, I'm home!" No, it's not a classic line from the historic "I Love Lucy" television show delivered in a Cuban accent by Band Leader Ricky Ricardo. What is it? It's a call from the front door of the shared house belonging to two divorcees who cannot...

Growing U.S. Student Loan Crisis Partly Fuelled By Unaffordable Rental Housing

The growing cost of higher learning in America leaves many graduates crippled by student loan debt throughout young adulthood and, for some, well into middle age. Recognition that this is indeed a crisis is coming from some progressive candidates for the U.S. Presidency. They...

Can An Affordable Housing Crisis Be Viewed As A Slow-Rolling Disaster?

When it comes to affordable housing crises, there are are some potential benefits to be gained from viewing the crisis from a disaster perspective. This is particularly true where efforts to contain a housing crisis cannot keep up with the rapidly increasing scale of...

Wellington, NZ Modular Housing: Still Taxiing Towards The Takeoff Runway?

Civic Square, View of Civic Square, downtown Wellington, New Zealand.
On one hand, modular housing offers building techniques that can result in more affordable housing construction. On the other, homebuilders prefer to keep using construction techniques they understand which allow them to build at least profitably, if not affordably. For them, affordability can be found...

Oopsy: Outdated U.S. Law Funnels Loans For Poor To Help Gentrify Houses Instead

abandonned townhouses
In order to discourage the banking practice of redliningTry: Redlining: What Was It? And We Should Be Asking ‘What Is It?’ Because It’s Still With Us, And It’s Bad, the U.S. 1977 Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) was passed to encourage banks to provide a...

England Housing Remains At Risk As Govt Heel-Drags On Revised Safety Regs

exterior of the headquarters for the Royal Institute of British Architects
Outdated Construction, Design and Management (CDM) Regulations have been identified as the culprit in the widespread corner-cutting of high rise construction that led to the tragic Grenfell Tower FireTry: English Government Bans Cladding That Burned At Grenfell Tower. The UK government has undertaken to...

Today’s Eye-roller: 4000 Sq Ft Lots Sporting ‘At-Market Affordable’ Homes

the public front of buckingham palace, london
From Manteca, California come tales of the hard lives of the middle and upper classes, together with the tribulations of the housing developers who serve them. Viewed from a have-not perspective, the link below tells a tale of a tiny tempest in a gilded...

Tory Solution For UK Housing Sickness: Take Two Storeys And Call Us In The Morning

two story detached house with two storey addition
What might those most concerned about affordable housing have expected from the recent Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, held in the shadow of a crash-out Brexit powered by a handsy prime minister of Trumpian moral character? After all, the UK national housing crisis looms ever...

Community Land Bank + Community Land Trust = Affordable Housing

Home in a Community Land Trust in India
Community Land Banks, under one name or another, have been around pretty much since the dawn of cities. They are the result of communities, through one means or another, acquiring land. For example, land may sometimes be donated to a town or city. More often...

Homelessness: Why Does Research Matter?

Dr. Bernie Pauly and colleagues at the University of Victoria in British Columbia have published a highly readable paper about research methods in homelessness programs. In it, they talk about three things: a case study evaluation of a homeless transitional shelter in Victoria, other...

Permanently Temporary: Sure Sign That Homelessness Solutions Are Becoming Part Of The Problem

Cities in more advanced countries have made do for decades with handfuls of emergency shelters for the homeless, their number expanding in the winters of harsher climates. In many countries, however, the high cost of housing together with low wages are currently driving more...

Researchers Issue A Challenge To Make ‘Housing First’ Work Better

Have you wondered how people who are homeless leave the streets and move to housing? How does Housing First, a program proven to help people who are homeless move to permanent affordable housing, work? And how does it work in a community with low...

Loan Industry Spurs U.S. Toward Another Mortgage Meltdown

Older man walking along a street, a young boy beside him.
Will there be another mortgage meltdown, triggering a housing meltdown at the heart of a nationwide economic disaster? The U.S. government, pressured by special interests (not their citizens' interests, you can be pretty sure of that!), is relaxing regulations designed to prevent a repeat...

Chicago Unaffordable But Union Must Talk Only Wages & Benefits. Teachers Disagree

On the front page of A Non-Partisan League journal from 100 years ago. Two Strong Workers Face down a tiny, top-hatted capitalist
Only a month or so away from the 100th anniversary of the journal edition pictured above, it's worth scanning the column of articles featured within it. The final one? "Decent Schools For Farm Children." A different time and place, but it seems that the cry...

Computer Aided Affordable Housing: Why Modularize When You Can Prefabricate?

A computer generated scene featuring a proposed group of buildings that is hard to tell apart from a photograph
What's in a word?  'Modules' (or modular construction) seems to mean pretty much the same thing as 'prefabrication.' Aren't they both ways of describing some element of a building, from a small part to the entire building itself, manufactured off site and transported to...

How Political Parties Rate Affordable Housing In The Upcoming Canadian Election

sign for polling station in 2011 election
Canadians are heading to the polls to elect a Federal Government on October 21, 2019. The media have identified affordability as the top issue. Now the Broadbent Insititute has produced a fact sheet about affordable housing and what the political parties are promising, should...

Copenhagen Housing Solution: Expand Once More Into The Sea

the Queen's Quay lighthouse built in 1961 now sits in downtown toronto, some distance from the waterfront
Unaffordable? Affordable? Regardless of the kind of housing that needs to be built, running out of space to build it has emerged as a concern of many large cities. The conventional wisdom: build higher to increase housing density. But waterside cities often have another option: creating...

Hoping To Find Housing Rental or Purchase Relief In The ‘Hood?’ Think Again

abandonned building
Is that fixer-upper in a depressed city area your only hope for climbing onto the housing ladder? A recent New York Times article explores the stacked deck that faces home buyers with limited finances. Why? Because savvy investors with profit in mind, not shelter,...

Cleaning Up Chicago By Smothering Violence With Affordable Housing

outdoor mural beside vacant lot filled with daisies in south Chicago
An affordable home would seem on the surface to be an unusual weapon with which to face a violent gun battle with a neighbourhood gang. Unusual? How about bonkers! And yet a recent article in Crain's Chicago Business points to the results of heavy handed —...

Max Profit? Max Affordability? No Sale At All? Toronto City Debates Land Sell-Off.

parkette in toronto bearing the sign: Toronto Jail Parkette
The City of Toronto has been suffering a predictable outcry when a federal crown corporation decided to sell off a parcel of Toronto waterfront land without requiring an affordable housing component to the deal. The city wishes at least to be seen promoting affordable housing...

Sidewalk Labs Presses ‘Affordable’ Button To Scam Cash For Toronto Smart City

hot air balloon in the shape of the number 5
These days, any luxury mega-project worth its salt is bound to lightly lard its housing components with 'affordability.' Sidewalk LabsSidewalk Labs is a subsidiary of Alphabet, which is also Google's parent. is no exception, pressing the 'affordable' button to claim its just rewards in...

Chicago Partially Affordable Success Points To Ultimate PPP Failure

head shot of railway executive
A promoted advantage of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) is the fact that their very design creates partially affordableWhat does 'partially affordable' mean? Terms such as 'truly affordable' or 'workforce' refer to the ability of an income-defined group of people to be able to afford a...

Housing A Bigger Concern In UK Than Brexit: No Priority for Election-Focused Tories

image of Gascoigne Estate housing which is scheduled for redevelopment. It is not clear whether the buildings are to be demolished or refurbished
It seems that UK citizens are more worried about the nation's housing crisis than they are about Brexit. Parliament, meanwhile, has moved beyond obsession to a state of flat-out craziness over the mechanics of either exiting or staying in the European Union. Nonetheless, the Tory...

Bernie Sanders: A Godfather Of Affordable Housing With Feet Of Clay?

council chamber, Cambridge Ma.
Bernie Sanders, the renowned Independent senator who turns Democratic when it suits him, has been a darling of American progressives since the runup to the 2016 presidential election, where his hoards of supporters seriously threatened the Democratic Party's anointed choice of Hilary Clinton to...

The Many Colours of YIMBY: Tasteful Affordable Housing OK

house in Provincetown, Cape Cod
Well, we truly hope there will be more than one article in this series, stunned as we were by the appearance YIMBYites standing on the neighbourhood barricades and waving at outsiders to come in.

Researcher Drags Inclusionary Zoning Through The Mud To Good Purpose

abandoned walk up apartment building
An article in the Baltimore Sun puts the boots to America's current favourite way of building affordable housing — through inclusionary zoning projects that produce partially affordable housing complexes. It is written by Emily Hamilton a research fellow with the Mercatus Center at George...

Cowichan Climate Change Prep: Best of Intentions Tangled in Reality

Herb garden in the Cowichan valley
Duncan, British Columbia, Canada's tiniest city mired in a much larger Cowichan Valley suburban sprawl, has seen fit to declare a climate emergency. Our hats are off. Earnest, well-meaning and entirely salutary intentions have been wrapped up by activist group One Cowichan in a ten...

Twain Not Meeting? Conventional Industry Technique Vs Modular Economy

close up of prefabricated balconies
Everyone is happier working with the known, not the unknown, and the housing industry is no exception. For those building houses for the free market, construction know-how includes an appreciation of how to wring profit from every step of the process. But with housing prices...

Toronto Smart City: So Far Google-Linked Proposal Has Folks Over-Worried, Under-Impressed

building at SidewalkLabs Toronto site (power unit?)
Sidewalk Labs' wordy, glossy, fluffy proposal for a neighbourhood development project in partnership with Waterfront Toronto

Affordable Housing Activists Eye England’s 216,000 Empty Houses

View of Southwark, London and the River Thames
A new study has emerged that indicates there are far more unsuitably housed people in the UK than previously thought. Read more in The Guardian: More Than 8 Million People In England Live In Unsuitable Homes Faced with these kinds of numbers it's no wonder that...

Much Ado About Nothing? Nowheresville Tourism Hurting Affordable Housing

Post Office, Jerome Arizona
Famous city tourism is running amok. Here are a couple of entertaining(?) stories about the plague of tourists overrunning famous places. You might try in the BBC: The Top Cities Overrun By Tourists, or in The Guardian: The Fall Of Prague: ‘Drunk Tourists Are Acting...

UK Affordable Self-Build: Bootstrapping Your Own Shelter

Brighton, England waterfront
Living a precarious financial existence? One misstep away from homelessness? Join an growing club, as in many countries affordable housing just can't be found. So here's a question: can you literally build yourself into housing security, contributing what is often called 'sweat equity' — your...

Seattle Affordable Housing Fund Lyft-Off?

As affordable housing crises have deepened, cities and regions have looked to create housing trustsSee the category Funding: Revenue Streams for other posts on this issue. to fund new affordable housing. Seed money often sets up the trust, usually with funding provided on a...

Anchor Companies Forced To Address Affordable Housing Woes

headquarters of prudential finanical in Newark, New Jersey
A brief and so-called short feature presentation embedded at the beginning of the 1983 film The Meaning of Life takes corporate mobility to the absurd lengths only to be expected from the Monty Python gang. An antiquated British insurance company building becomes a pirate ship, upping...

If At First You Don’t Succeed . . .NY Affordable Mega-Project 70 Years In The Making

Construction on site in New York. The previeous building was demolished 70 years ago.
The saga of Essex Crossing began in the 1950's with the demolition of some of New York's historic gateway slums — the squalid welcome to America for waves of immigrants who crammed for decades into its six and seven story tenements. After the housing...
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