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Monthly Archives: January 2020

US Housing Vouchers Don’t Work. Time To Turn Back the Clock For A Better Idea?

architect's drawing and plan for a cape cod cottage
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The following article begins with a personal adventure in attempting to utilize a Housing Choice (Section 8) voucher in order to rent an apartment. These vouchers were created in the 1970's as a more efficient and effective way to serve the housing needs of...

Low Density City Neighbourhoods Fingered as World Economic Nightmares

narrowest house in Great Britain
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From a worldview of a gang of teenagers trying to break a record for the number who will fit into a car (and haven't noticed they're parked too close to the incoming tide) comes a mega-handwringing article from the prestigious Economist. Summed up in a...

The Ownership Housing Ladder: For Growing Numbers, A Stairway To Nowhere Desirable

A shadowy black hat-clad individual
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Two important factors are gradually swinging the attention of house builders in a number of countries away from the 'National Dream' of home ownership — a mantra that has been popular for many years. First, housing prices have risen so far that many first time...

“Thanks, But No Thanks:” Austin TX Scorns State Affordable Housing Bribery Cash

The willingness of governments to scrape affordable housing responsibility off their plates finds an almost perfect match with 'small government' philosophy, founded on the idea that 'private enterprise can do it better'. Well, it matches on paper at least. For a fine example of how...

Can Renters Survive Without Commodified Housing? Berlin Aims To Find Out

A view of Berlin, Germany over the roofs of many apartment buildings
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The vast majority, 85%, of Berlin's citizens are renters. These days, rising rents are squeezing the life out of them. So Berlin is looking to impose a rent freeze for five years beginning in the spring. Investment oriented news outlets predictably predict doom. 'Berlin Foundations...

Columbus, OH, Teeters, Then Topples: Housing For The Poorest . . . Or Federal Funding?

poor people campaign march in Columbus Ohio
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That there is a 'need' for housing across the American nation is largely self-evident. Housing developers would be heading out of business otherwise, and the largest of them at least are still building homes. As for groups with a 'need' for housing, that would...

Tiny Houses: A Figment Fit For The Imagination, But No Big Affordable Solution?

Display of tiny homes in leafy campground
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In a lengthy, entertaining and informative article, Miles Howard explores the past, present and future of one form of dinky living. He focuses particularly on high tech gingerbread cottages with amenities packed together like a Swiss army knife that can do for one, or...

Co-Ownership: Pride Cometh Before The Fall

A pair of larger swallowtail butterfly caterpillars with a smaller one
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Apologies for the doom-laden headline, but there's seldom a chance to use a pithy poetic-sounding phrase, particularly one that containeth that sophisticated 'eth' sound. After all, a sleazy single or double 's' can often do the job. Our headline paraphrases the thoughts of a real...

Oh, No! Not Another California Homeless Story. . . But It Is A Great One!

Great? We wish we could mean 'great' in some kind of 'light at the end of the tunnel' way. But we can't. Instead we're talking about a comprehensive article that does a really excellent job of covering the who, what, where, why and when...

Is Opportunity Knocking For Affordable Housing In Canada?

view of parliament hill from the Ottawa river
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In October 2018, Canadians went to the polls. No party emerged as a clear winner. Advocates with long experience are saying this presents an opportunity to make housing more affordable for households struggling most with housing costs. Ed Broadbent, Chair of the Broadbent Institute, is...

Evicted Oakland Squatter-Moms Buy That Vacant House

people carrying Moms 4 Housing banner
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Fabulous news for the evicted moms. A totally meaningless victory in a war that desperately needs to be fought against house flipping?

Welcome To A Magical Orlando Experience: For You, But Not Theme Park Workers

A bunch of keys on a table with little cartoon characters attached
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The tourist industry is vital to the economies of many countries. Orlando, Florida is one of those places in the U.S. However delightful it can be for visitors, working there can be a nightmare. The article below presents shortage of affordable housing as the most...

Montreal Students Build DIY Muscle To Create Affordable University Housing

the university of Montreal's tower rises above leaf-bare parkland trees in a snow-clad scene
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Montreal, Quebec is unusual among Canadian and American cities: it has far more renters than owners. Like many other cities though, the amount of rental housing is not keeping pace with demand, and rents are increasing. In this environment, students who do not live at...

3 North America Countries Make A Chicken & Ostrich Climate-Burger

What appears to be a normal hamburger, but the meat is ostrich
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The buns of our proposed climate burger features the famous Chicken Little twins. That would be Mexico and Canada, running around the barnyard and crying "Climate Change is coming, Climate Change is coming!" It should be a pig in-the-middle, but it's not. Ostrich is the...

Housing De-Commodification vs Disneyland: Goofy Wins Out!

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It's not our fault. More reputable media made us do it. So we are reporting a 'Mickey Mouse' affordable housing solution in the world's most expensive city, Hong Kong. The entire cast of Disney cartoon characters has been enlisted to ease that city's desperate housing...

Seattle Does The Section 8 Two-Step: A Vastly Improved Housing Voucher Plan

closeup of sign saying no trespassing, no loiter, and giving a phone number of a shelter
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The fundamental nature of the world's most successful homeless-to-housing program is embodied in its name: Housing First. First implies that there is at least a second step. And housing is part of what makes the program successful. That second step is 'support'. Finding housing for homeless...

‘Don’t Stop The Financial Music’ And Other Conservative Affordability Fixes

singer performing don't stop the music
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Free market devotees are getting rather boxed into a corner these days when it comes to proposing solutions for affordable housing crises. There are still hopeful cries everywhere from the housing industry and their real estate fellow travellers in favour of the 'give the fox...

Vancouver, BC: ‘Hiving’ As A Resilient Affordable Housing Strategy

Closeup of two bees on a hexagonal network of beehive cells containing pupae
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Vancouver, BC is the least affordable city in North America, with a high proportion of households with low incomes compared to Canada as a whole. As well, it's a major target for off-shore speculative real estate investment. The city is fertile ground for ideas about...

Manitoba Looks To Plow Affordable Housing Furrow With Tractors That Don’t Pull

a tractor high on a pedestal in Austin, Manitoba
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You gets what you pays for, we guess. The Canadian province of Manitoba has apparently been snoozing through three decades of feeble Thatcherite Public Private Partnership (PPP) experiments in affordable housing that have taken place around the world. Facing the same affordable housing problems being...

Calling All American Housing ‘Entities:’ Affordable Housing Challenge With Important Payoff

a replica Wells Fargo stagecoach pulled by horses in a recent Rose Bowl parade
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Entites? Whether you belong to a for-profit, non-profit, or a TDHETDHE — Tribally Designated Housing Entity entity, two other corporate 'entities' have an affordable housing challenge for your consideration. Wells Fargo and Enterprise Community Partners are looking for creative proposals between now and mid February in...

Toronto: Affordable Housing For Anybody But The Rich . . . And The Poor.

View of Toronto ice-strewn harbour
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Arguments can, and are, being made that national housing crises do not exist. Some simply reframe a generalized idea of 'affordability' to suit the argument. One from the United Kingdom demonstrates that nationally, there are 'already enough houses to provide a home for every...

Looking Down Your Nose At Poor Folks’ Housing Woes? Yes, It Is Your Problem.

A low white-painted family house nestled in trees
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You don't have to be wealthy to look down your nose at others. For example, a movie title was co-opted to describe an entire generation of unionized British industrial workers with a superior, self-congratulatory attitude: "I'm all right, Jack!" Still, a little more wealth than...

Boston: New Affordable Housing Funding . . Or Very Old?

A view across the harbour of downtown Boston, Massachusetts
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Riffing off the widely publicized 'gifts' from California tech companies, Boston's Mayor Walsh is calling for a new affordable funding stream from local businesses. Read more in the Boston Globe: Walsh Wants Major Companies To Help Finance Affordable Housing But can we for a moment...

Occupier California Moms Evicted Quietly, Peacefully. (They Must Be Canadians!)

Is this new house empty? Its not clear from the outside
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A far cry from the raucous civil disobedience housing occupations more than a year ago in Berlin, California's 2 moms + kids illegal occupation of an empty housing investment property ended yesterday, as it inevitably had to. A protest with a peaceable manner, it fell...

How Canadian Landlords Skate Around Renoviction Laws

An official white paper notice is taped to a San Francisco house doorway.
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There are legal renovictions and illegal renovictions. Many countries allow renovictions — a term that describes landlords throwing out renters in order to renovate rental housing.For more on renovictions, try: Renovictions: What Are They? What Can A Tenant Do To Combat Them? In some countries,...

The Many Colours of NIMBY: Keeping It Green For Everyone

A leafy walking trail through the woods.
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In our little series of posts covering NIMBY attitudes, there are two elephants in the room, one 'good,' the other 'bad,' which we seldom talk about.

Driving 100 Years Down The Road With Low Income Housing Tax Credits

A number of what appear to be Pittsburgh high rise residences
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Quoting from an excellent, detailed article on the implementation of Low Income Housing Tax Credits in West Oakland, Pittsburg, PA: "With 9% LIHTC alone, the city would need nearly a century to fill its current shortage." Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) are the...

Protective Knights or Obstructionist Villains? City Councils Attack Affordability Crises

An illustration of a handful of average-looking citizens
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These days, city governments must work to balance the demands of residents of all stripes, from the comfortable and complacent to the needy and struggling. They are forced to do so while protecting citizen health from a string of dangers, everything from water and...

Minimum Wage Hikes Can’t Touch Affordable Housing Crises

a sign saying 'raise the minimum wage' is taped around a light standard
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These days, a class of experts we'd like to call "People With Another Great Idea" have been pleased to point out that while housing costs are largely fixed, incomes are not. This suggests to them that affordable housing crises can be tackled and solved...

Tenancy In Common: Why is It Affordable, And Some Might Say, Detestable?

view of Echo Park Lake in Los Angeles
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Tenancy In Common? Well, first we need to make liars out of ourselves by admitting that it's not really affordable, at least not so far as affordablehousingaction.org is concerned. That's because we're primarily concerned about exploring options for those in the lowest income brackets...

U. S. Housing’s Ben Carson, Maestro Of Medical Metaphor, Attacks California

building with no vacancy sign in the window
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Thanks to a FOXBusiness report, the world is aware that Secretary Ben Carson of HUDHUD — the US Department of Housing and Urban Development has recently 'called out' the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, for the state's failure to contain the rise of homelessness. This...

Trickle Up: A Watery Metaphor for Housing Price Change That Defies Gravity

Building cranes tower over New York City luxury condo towers under construction
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'Trickle-down' is the process that is touted to solve affordable housing crisis. It is the favourite viewpoint of the American housing industry and supported by the YIMBY (Yes in My Back Yard) activist movement. The trickle-down ideology favours high end, even luxury, housing construction....

Rooftop Modular Affordable Housing Horrifies Top Floor Renter

An elephant releases a ball on a bowling alley -- no kidding
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As a resident of a solidly-built, flat-roofed 1928 apartment building, a good-news modular housing story from the UK positively sends shivers up my spine. Oh no! We'll no longer be on the top floor! Years have been spent climbing up the rental housing ladder until...

A Crisis Of Shoes, Ships Or Sealing Wax? Florida Housing Money Can Fix It

head shot of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis
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In a time of growing housing crises, what possesses a state legislature to use its housing trust fund as a reserve to tackle other urgent matters, not once but time and time again? Is it corruption? Good-life politicians searching for better with the help of...

Housing Has Always Been A Commodity, So What’s The Big New Deal?

four monopoly houses and a hotel on stacks of coins
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Currently there's a great deal of hand-wringing about the 'commodification' of housing, in particular its link to exploding housing prices and to blossoming housing crises everywhere. Some go so far as to suggest that commodification is the root cause of every housing crisis.Here's an...

UK Affordable PPP Problem: “One Of Our ‘P’s Is Broken”

house-lined street in Reading, England
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Incompetence? Bad Faith? Obsessive fealty to shareholders?  Whatever the reason, local United Kingdom councils are starting to finger one of the 'P's in their Affordable Housing Public Private Partnerships as an intolerable fly in the ointment. The 'P' for 'Public'? That's them — the councils....

Connecting The Housing And Health Dots

Health researchers Diana Hernandez and Carolyn Swope from Columbia University have recently published two important articles that connect housing with health. We have much more access to information about health than we did 30 years ago. Health researchers have risen to the challenge of sorting...

Acquiring Land for Affordable Housing? Scrap That Idea!

A section of abandoned railway much overgrown with weeds and bush
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Governments, for all their supposed powers, are clearly at a disadvantage when it comes to competing with private enterprise that has sniffed profit in the wind. Sandy Springs, a newish satellite city close to big-time Atlanta, GA, recently held public discussions about avoiding gentrification. Sandy...

Beijing Rains On The Affordable Public Housing Parade

Highways in the foreground, high rises in the background view of Beijing, China
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For the past few decades, governments and businesses alike have made forceful claims that private enterprise can manipulate the free housing market to better house the world, from the richest (guaranteed!) to the poorest (okay, maybe not so much.) Better? Better than who or what? Why,...

Little To Ask: The Simple Pleasure of Affording To Return Home

An older woman, a dog on the chair beside her, sits on the front porch of a modest old house
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Two recent in-depth articles in Shelterforce provide a snapshot of an unexpected argument that has come up, thanks to gentrification. Gentrification displaces long time inhabitants of a neighbourhood, particularly the people with the lowest incomes. With pressure to ensure a mix of incomes in these newly-minted and...

Cozy Canada Missed 2008 Wake Up Call, Now Faces Housing Bubble Bath

scrabble tiles spelling out credit card debt
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2008 US/World Housing Crisis and beyond. What? Us Canucks Worry? No need. We were proud of our doughty bank system that rode out the storm without risky mortgage investment holdings collapsing like dominos and flushing debt burdened homeowners down the toilet. Not so wise to be...

2019: The Year Of Housing In Abundance?

single unit house in portland
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Groan. Mutter. Snarl. Pardon us while we work up a mad-on at the headline of an article from Sightline: "2019: THE YEAR ABUNDANT HOUSING TURNED THE CORNER" Surely Sightline means: 2019, THE YEAR THAT THE QUEST FOR ABUNDANT HOUSING TURNED A CORNER? If the housing is...

California Eviction Fight: Is The Housing Owner Blameless — Not A Villain?

appartently naked woman bearing poster with question mark
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We recently posted an article about two women and their children who were squatting in an empty house in Oakland, California, in defiance of the building's owners. The women are strongly supported by local activists. An eviction date in mid-December came and went, and...
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