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Monthly Archives: December 2019

Accessible Housing? The Art Of Experiencing Life In An Unliveable Living Room

A fairly normal looking bathroom but with grab bars all over the place
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How can housing accessibility make housing more affordable? Recently we reported a United Kingdom conference where accessibility was discussed not just as a specialty item, but as a principle that should be applied to all new housing. Try: UK Conference: Affordability Demands Accessibility ....

Affordable Housing: A Rose-Coloured Glasses Moment To Wrap Up 2019

A woman stands in the street reading a newspaper
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It's a world in which a great many nations pay lip service to the human right to adequate shelter. There are some, including the United States, that don't acknowledge it at all. Whether shelter is tacitly acknowledged as a fundamental need or ignored altogether, it...

Pittsburgh Plays God With Poor Folks. Feds and State Leave Them No Choice.

Two Pittsburgh omeless people stretched out under covers on park bench
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A slightly more fast and loose post, ranting completely understated

Affordable? Look To Habitat For Humanity to Walk The Walk, Talk The Talk

a group of young people erecting plywood walls of a house
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Once upon a time we believed that the purpose of a definition of 'affordable housing' was clarity. We realize now that these days, the purpose is really confusion. The greater the number of definitions of affordability that can weasel their way into acceptance, the...

Ventura County Swims Against Zoning Tide To Protect Trailer Parks

A mobile home sitting in a garden filled with cheery knickknacks
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From California comes word of more, not less, zoning restriction. That's rare good news for existing affordable housing in America's rapidly-declining stock of trailer parks. Governments from the feds (think HUDHUD — The US Department of Housing and Urban Development) on down are being steamrollered...

Portland Prepares For Care And Breeding Of Affordable Grannie Flats

a small white back yard cottage in the limited space of a back yard
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Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs), grannie flats, garden suites, call them what you will, can be highly affordable. Better still, in a crowded urban landscape they have a residential footprint that places no additional land requirement on a municipality. One rusting swing set, plus one empty...

Repairs R Us: Habitat For Humanity Diversifies Onward

One of a trio of Chicago row houses undergoing repairs
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In the free markets of today's democracies, housing is an investment, not a human right. To build housing in this commodified environment is to pursue profit, not to reaffirm humanity. What future, then, for an organization such as Habitat for Humanity, which wears its intentions...

How To Be Wrong-Headed About The Right Kind Of Affordable Housing Assistance

A house in a corner lot in Charlotte North Carolina with a realtor's sign on the lawn
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"I'm sorry, Mr. Brewster Twillingate-Smithers III, but I will not rent one of my apartments to you because your income is zero, not withstanding your weekly million-dollar subsidy from the family trust."

The Oversized American Dream: Is The World Witnessing Its Passing?

Two wild mushrooms decorated as tiny homes
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Spacious countries not lacking in wealth — the United States, Canada, Australia and other roomy elsewheres — dreamed big in the twentieth century. For many successful individuals, those lifestyle dreams were achievable: big houses on big lots. The median US family house size peaked...

The Fuss About ‘Poor Doors’

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Okay, we were as aghast as everybody else that 'poor' doors had been installed in a publicly subsidized New York City building so that rich folks didn't need to interact with their less wealthy neighbours. On reflection though, some wealthy folk have the both the...

YIMBY: Let’s Get High!

On a foggy night in English Bay, Vancouver, BC, the skies are lit with lights from high rise buildings
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Let's face it. YIMBY stories are scarce on the ground. So scarce that a first reaction on encountering one is: "They said what? That's unbelievable!"

Urban Planning Trapped In The Zoning ‘Solution’

1922 poster promosting zoning from the Seattle Municipal archives
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When it comes to building more affordable housing, zoning has a high profile. An article in the New Yorker argues that by focussing on zoning, we miss the importance of the process of development, and role of the actors in that process. The article draws...

Guardian Public Service Awards: Good Housing News From A Great Paper

Old, grey council houses in Bellbank, UK
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Before getting into The Guardian Housing and Public Service Awards, an affordablehousingaction.org Top Affordable Housing Newspaper award to The Guardian itself. The Guardian is right up there in quality with the top handful of English language newspapers. It has a big commitment to housing issues. What takes it...

“Taking The UK By Storm,” Modular Housing Flexes Its Affordable Muscles

A lego model of a house exploded into three separate stories
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"Taking the UK by storm?" Well, we're introducing an industry magazine article today, and it's perhaps understandable that this particular piece of their prose is a little hypersonic, particularly in light of reports that the UK modular fabrication industry took a bit of a...

Charlotte, NC Explores The Other Side Of The Affordable Housing Coin

a sprig of green grows out of a double handful of coins
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In a free market, affordability is transactional. It makes sense only if there are two sides to the transaction. A seller's price (fixed) is only affordable if a purchaser's financial worth (fixed) is high enough to cover the cost. In spite of this, advocacy around...

Resilience: What Is It? What’s It Got To Do With Affordable Housing?

A stunted pine tree bent by the wind
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Resilience is a measure of how well a crisis, calamity, or catastrophe can be withstood. As the term is used in this blog, it comes in two flavours. Community resilience is a measure of how well a nation, region, or community can withstand something like...

Social Housing Tenants: Time To Stop Preaching To The Choir?

A choir of men, women and children
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Social Housing tenants should be: (choose one) Not seen and not heard Seen, but not heard Forelock-tugging with whispered fear that if they don't smarten up, they'll get the boot Murmuring politely while accepting that management is always right Mumbling endless thanks that a...

UK Conference: Affordability Demands Accessibility . . . In All Homes

Roll in shower with hand rails in an accessible bathroom.
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Free market housing developers speak to the public in a code that invariably reflects their shareholder interests. 'Quality Housing', 'Quiet Enclave', 'Luxurious Appointments' can be readily translated to mean 'Comfortable Developer Profits.' Hardly surprising then, that when it comes to the importance of other factors...

Will Canada-wide Public Housing Wait Times Prod More Construction?

house in poor condition
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Too much to expect, we assume, for Canada to announce the arrival of a huge burst of actual housing on National Housing Day. Maybe some kind of national surprise present? 100,000 or so much needed housing units built secretly all over the nation and...

Canada’s Federal Housing Initiative: Dancing Booties On Feet Of Clay

ripples on muddy water mark the tidal bore at Moncton, NB
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Faced with country-wide housing crises like much of the world, two years ago Canada claimed it was at last standing up to be counted, after decades of little or no national support for affordable housing. Bravo! Except . . . The Canadian federal government has never...

Building Giant Thinks Tower Construction Outside The ‘Module Box’ Box

montage showing complex factory perched on half-built high rise tower
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P1030355.1 (factory) photo by lkajsdfl is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0 So. You have a local or regional need for affordable housing modules? Where should the manufacturing be sited? Let's take one extreme example: as far away as you like. How about China? We recently explored a...

Can’t Do Affordable Housing Modules In California? No Matter, China Can

mdular social housing in Denmark
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Believe you can and you're halfway there — Teddy Roosevelt Whatever happened to 'can-do?' A recent UK story raises the issue, one that arguably applies on both sides of the Atlantic. Read more in The Guardian: Even After Two World Wars We Rebuilt Britain. We...

Why Individual Woes Can Muddy Affordable Housing Imperatives

A homeless person sleeps bundled up in a blanket on a Lisbon, Portugal public stairway
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On one hand: CBS's Anderson Cooper does a so-called 'progressive' take on Seattle's homelessness crisis. "Rent Is Obscene Here": The Issues Forcing People In Seattle Onto The Street And on the other: 770 KTTH Conservative Talk Radio's Jason Rantz calls Cooper's assessment a 'botch.' Rantz:...

Housing: Asset Or Necessity? Disobedience May Define It, Along With The Future of Capitalism

Arial View of Okland with the sun setting behind buildings
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Two homeless mothers together with children have occupied an empty house in Oakland, California. Currently, there is more housing held empty by investors speculating in Oakland than there are homeless people who need housing. And yet governments — those democratic bulwarks of modern capitalist...

‘The Soo’ City Councillor Hammers Home Affordable Refurbishing Scheme.

The St. Mary's rapids between lake Superior and Lake Huron
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Can't get elected as a city councillor in The Soo?The Soo is the nickname of Sault (pronounced 'Soo') Ste. Marie in the province of Ontario If you're a carpenter by trade, why not test out a buy-and-refurbish affordable housing scheme? One benefit of a little...

Habitat For Humanity Breaks New Trail In Kamloops British Columbia

Kamloops BC from a train window
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Habitat for Humanity, arguably one of the most respected and successful affordable house building charities in the world, is undergoing a sea change. Even with its ability to mobilize construction volunteers willing to pay to help on a Habitat build, the rising cost of materials,...

Housing Racism: The Diseased Underbelly Of The American Dream

black and white photo of a ruined house
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A new book written by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor surfaces how the American Dream of homeownership has played out for black people. Early in her career, Taylor worked as a housing advocate. Some of her clients were struggling homeowners. She noticed patterns in their experiences. They were...

How Affordable Housing Might Add Substance To Talk of Segregation Reparations

Black prisoners in a camp in Eastern Europe
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Democratic candidates for the U.S. federal elections in 2020 have broached the subject of reparations for the continued mistreatment of black Americans that followed emancipation. So far, while there has been some support for the idea that the nation should make reparations, there has...

Does The New Normal — Renting — Require A New Affordable Housing Strategy?

Nottinghill Genesis buildings on the waterfront in Newham, London
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National governments on both sides of the Atlantic obsess about the home-ownership dream, even as households are shifting away from home ownership towards renting their housing, permanently. Part of this trend is involuntary, as growing numbers cannot afford to own and may never be...

Can Collaboration Make A Difference In Affordable Housing Policy?

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In 2016, when the government of Canada decided to re-frame its role in affordable housing, it sought advice from the public. The National Housing Collaborative (the Collaborative) was formed solely for the purpose of contributing evidence based housing policies that reflected advice from a...

An Affordable Pox On All Your Tech Industry Charitable Housing

view of Manitouwadge Cenotaph
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The headline seems a little churlish, doesn't it? Sneering at charitable contributions? We thought so. And yet it forms the core of a similar headline from the electronic publication: The Hill. To be more specific, that wrong-headed headline of a largely wrong-headed article reads as...

Is An Oregon Park Upkeep Proposal Really An Attack on Affordable Housing?

A view across Lake Oswego in Oregon, showing upscale houses on the far shore
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Leaf-shaded walks, flower beds in profusion, well stocked duck ponds: how does such an admirably eco-minded beautification plan get affordable housing activists calling 'fowl?' The answer lies in a proposed bylaw to fund local park maintenance in a suburb of Portland, Oregon. On the surface,...

Philadephia Wants Affordable Housing ‘No Sale’ Except For Non-Profits

A "Not For Sale" sign in front of a nondescript building
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Housing investors in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania who've been taking the slow boat to free market profits may soon find themselves diverted onto an unwanted around-the-world cruise by city council. The slow boat involves government help with capital investment on new multi-home housing — assistance such as...

Sydney, AU: Is There A Happy Medium For Affordable Housing Density?

grey and white trimmed duplexes in tradition housing style
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So, how long before a first rate city that can attract only second rate talent diminishes to a second rate city? Sydney Australia hovers close to the top of many laudable urban measurements, including the quality of local talent that is being eroded away by...

Bloomington, III, Conference Hears Solution to ALL NIMBY Problems

An empty lawn bowling lawn
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At a recent conference, Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) advocates have been given a preview of the ultimate NIMBY solution. Up until now, NIMBY protesters have voiced their opposition to incoming affordable housing projects by hoping that a project involving an invading army of...

Freer Housing Is ‘Fairer Housing.’ Yowza!

townhouses
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It's not often that we copy exact chunks of headline from an article we'd like you to explore. (Not the Yowza! That's all our own work.) But otherwise, the chunk is so evocative. Born free! A craggy cowboy in chaps pursues a herd of wild...

Inter-Governmental Wrangling: A True Menace To Affordable Housing?

Colourful high rise public housing buildings in Singapore
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From the Right: eliminate onerous government regulations and the free market will build us all out of affordable housing crises, providing the necessary housing for ownership by the 'workforce,' as well as rental accommodations for the lower classes. From the Left: free market profit motive...

Is The Marshall Plan A Model To Solve The Affordable Housing Crisis?

a dutch postage stamp with commemorative text within it
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Following World War II, the United States committed 12 billion dollars over 4 years to rebuild Europe. It was then quite a chunk of the country's annual budget and more like 100 billion of today's dollars. That was the Marshall Plan, named after U.S....

U.S. Unemployment At 50-Yr Low: Good News For Affordable Housing

Statue at FDR memorial of men in an unemployment line
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To make sense of this story's headline, you have to be prepared to accept that housing can be made more affordable by raising the income of anyone trying to purchase housing. (Some argue that this is the only way to solve current affordable housing crises. Others...

Canadians Try Under-Bridge Living For High Art And Fine Dining

A homeless encampment under a riverside Munich Bridge
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In April 2019 we wondered, is it some kind of pointed April Fool's Joke highlighting the plight of homeless people forced to shelter under bridges? We'd already seen and reported on one such 'joke' in the USTry: Affordable April Fools Joke: It Only Hurts...
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