Monthly Archives: May 2020

COVID-19: Getting To The Bottom Of The Nursing Home Story In Ontario

A daughter in the foreground waves up towards a multi-storey rehab hosipital and long term care home
In Ontario, Canada, there have been two COVID-19 stories: one in the community and one in long term care homes. The number of outbreaks, and higher frequencies of COVID-19 illnesses and death in care homes has raised a lot of questions and a determination...

Take A Trip Into Democracy’s Dark Ages — Already Here And Spreading

An homeless man stoops to talk to his dog. Beside them another older man in a wheelchair watches
From a romantic point of view, America's flower-child city has everything. San Francisco has atmosphere, sea views (when the fog has lifted), quaintness, vibrancy, and most of all success — so much success that only well-paid romantics can afford to live there. Today, the city...

Housing Crises: Developers Love The Problem, Not The Solution

To hear the housing industry talking about it, they are the embodiment of all that is right about Adam Smith's economic theories. They build only to satisfy a public need. They are the supply. The public is the demand. Leave everything alone and all the...

COVID-19 Brings New Urgency World-Wide For Rent Controls

A speaker at a rent control rally surrounded by signs advocation rent control
Before COVID-19, there was evidence that investor influence, which dammed up attempts to prevent rent control measures, is crumbling. The past year in the United States, Oregon led the way with 'cost of living' (COL) plus a maximum 7% annual rent hike allowance. In the midst...

COVID-19: Together Is Coming Apart

chalk drawings of rainbow and hearts, with the words Stay Safe We can do this together UK
We're all in this together. This sentiment is expressed by children and adults in the posters and signs that are going up to help us get through COVID-19. If only it were true. At the start of COVID-19, some high profile cases (think Boris Johnson...

Homes For The Homeless: Mission Impossible Or Impossible Missionaries?

astronaut, rover, landing module and flag on the moon
In the United Kingdom, COVID-19 has demonstrated the awesome power of a government with a clear objective and the means to achieve it. Under the direction of the national government, most of the nation's homeless were removed from the streets and placed into housing...

Housing Ombudsmen: Whose Ombuddies Will They Actually Be?

a cartoon broom sweeps across a set of New York City Public Housing medium rise buildings
The ever-growing low-income housing crisis is largely due to the uncontrolled free-market commodification of housing that raises rents and purchase prices beyond the reach of those with small, or no, incomes. The severity of this crisis has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. In...

The West Has Elevated Nations Of Millions. Why Not Its Own Homeless?

mobil shower facility in Sioux City, Iowa
A must-watch Ted TalkThe Best Stats You've Ever Seen uses global statistics in an extraordinary animated way that is highly visual and actually understandable! The talk and its attendant animation punctures the myth that there still exists an elite 'Western World' floating serenely above a sea of...

A New Irish PPP Approach For Meaningful Volumes Of Social Housing

demolition of tower of council housing flats
This website has been rather relentless in its criticism of social housing built by public private partnerships (PPPs), which tag a small social housing caboose onto the back end of large private housing train. Time has shown that these partnerships (apart from the inevitable...

Let Banging On Pots Be A Brief Stand-In For A Gift Of A Fine Social Home

A black and white photo of U.S Marine Corps troops marching past Paris Buildings
A group of UK housing associations are proposing a 'Homes For Heroes' housing initiative modelled on the social housing drive following World War I. Banging pots in appreciation daily or once a week is probably well enough received. But what a meaningful reward an...

COVID-19 — England Steps Up Fight Against Domestic Violence And Sexual Slavery

a stylized artwork of a hoodie-wearing man attacking with a bottle a woman shielding her face
The National Government in England has joined other countries in announcing additional funding for programs to assist people who experience domestic abuse, which has risen significantly during the COVID-19 lockdown. When the new legislation is passed, families fleeing domestic violence will have priority status in...

From Australia, A 2-Step, Costed, Plan To House EVERYONE

graffiti tag in abandonned building
Without any true desire by governments to make the changes needed to end homelessness, the problem has been growing towards a crisis in many nations. That was before COVID-19. Now, maybe, it's a different story. From Australia, here's a two step plan based on 1)...

Australians Resist COVID-19 Path To Eliminate Homelessness

view down carpeted spiral staircase
Lucky (or well-managed) Western Australia with its flattened COVID-19 caseload curve. It is no longer freaking into the air — a startled cat — like all the rest of the world's nations. No, it's able to settle down to self-grooming now and, with its tongue...

The Question Of Handouts For . . . Evil? . . . Essential? Landlords

Closeup of a weathered face under a black hat flecked with white snowlflakes.
For anyone who is a renter (as this writer is) there's never any difficulty to finding some transgression, small or large, over which to gnash teeth. (For example my landlord's 'let's all pull together' contribution to the pandemic is radio silence plus one small hand...

Scotland: COVID-19 Is Bringing Modest Good News To Some Renters

Portree harbour lined with painted houses in front of a sea of moored boats
At the price of losing what may be an all-important local industry — tourism, renters in holiday destinations are seeing the impact of dramatic economic changes upon landlords. This is a story that will undoubtedly change the fortunes of both renters and landlords in popular...

Reviving Adam Smith

roof top laundry in social housing
A researcher at University College London draws attention to Adam Smith's theory of economic rent. Smith is widely known as the the father of free market economics. The theory of economic rent provided Smith the means to speak about the surpluses that landlords extracted...

What Is Social Exclusion, Anyway?

three colourful doors lined up in the side of a building
Imagine three sets of people who are asked to describe their housing search: The first set are one person households looking for a one bedroom apartment. One is employed, the other is not. The second set are also one person households looking for a...

COVID-19 — Government Killed Work. Should It Kill Rent, Too? If So, How?

posters at a rental housing rally
Shelterforce takes a lengthy look 'from the left' at the plight of renters without income to pay their rent. It focuses on rent cancellation for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency and considers options that might be implemented by the government that might ensure...

Need An Extra Tax For The Poor? In The UK It’s ‘Too Many Bedrooms’

A bed against the wall with a headboard of christmas lights and only a teddy bear in a toque under the covers
What better time to be thinking about a better social housing future than standing in a quicksand of failure from the past?

COVID-19 And A Tested Program That Helps Tenants To Pay Rent

This is a shout out to the Rent Assist program, which operates in the province of Manitoba. It helps all tenants with low incomes to pay their rent and has a low administration cost. It also enjoys support from all sides of the political...

Renter Or Owner-Frog Cozy In Warming Water? Stop The Future Now!

Do you own? Or rent? (That would seem to cover most of you.) Take a look at your future as the commodification of housing ever-so-gradually turns up the heat. The temperature is fuelled by investment dollars. Your governments skim the take, so won't stop...

Staying Home Is Not The Centre Point Of All COVID-19 Responses

Ice still remains in the water in front of a row of northern houses
Governments in Canada's far north have taken a different approach to the COVID-19 epidemic. They are encouraging residents to resume traditional practices of living on the land, rather than staying home, which is an anchor to responses in the south. Why? Staying at home presumes an...

Homeless Services For Indigenous People In Canada Get A Boost

A group of researchers in Canada has just issued a guideline for those assisting Indigenous people experiencing homelessness. This assistance is most timely, as Indigenous people are eight times more likely to be homeless than non-Indigenous people. Depending on the city, Indigenous people represent...

A New Yorker Update On The Slow-Rolling Rent Non-Payment Disaster

A protester's car with a sign saying cancel rent on its bumper
Shades of a long-gone American social safety net, shredded away in an 'every man for himself' world of modern profiteering where no human necessity is safe from predation. Ideas of social responsibility have gone the way of religion-inspired charity. They are no longer guides to...

Political Shaming Has All But Killed Social Housing In America

pillory in use in 1907
Whatever the many reasons behind the collective government destruction of social housing in America, the mechanism of that destruction was straightforward — shaming. Shaming those who lived in social housing has turned out to be a tool of political power. Forget wrong-headed architecture, forget debilitating management...

COVID-19: Nursing Home Care — A Tale Of Two Provinces

US army and director of nursing at nursing home studying a handheld device
Meet Laurie and Kim. They are over 80, and need help with activities daily living and the care of a nurse. They both live in privately operated nursing homes in Canada. Both homes receive public funding. During COVID-19, neither Laurie nor Kim can have...

For North American High Rise Social Housing Haters: Small Can Be Beautiful

Three grim, older red brick towers of Buffalo, NY public housing
Or, in the case of one particular social housing project in France, small can be pig-ugly, at least in the view of this writer. But fortunately we all agree that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, don't we? And fortunately as well,...

Tracing NY COVID-19 Death: A Broken Trail Towards Housing?

refugee camp in Burma
New York is suffering a tragedy befitting a country, not a city. This small, though densely packed, corner of the United States has the dubious honour of being harder hit by COVID-19 than any nation in the world, save the American nation itself. A recent...

Social Housing: Why Women Get Evicted When Some Other Dude Did It

townhouses owned by the Toronto Community Housing Corporation
You've lived in the same home for over 20 years, and always paid the rent on time. So why has your landlord decided to evict you? You live in social housing in Toronto or New York City. A member of your household has been arrested....

COVID-19: Brought To You By Bats & Pangolins . . . Or. . . Inequality?

A strange anteater-like critter covered on heavy scales
An intriguing article in The Guardian dares to turn the cause of pandemics on its head. It offers historical evidence that, whatever 'bug' might trigger an outbreak of illness, the explosion into epidemic or pandemic proportions is a result of crowding and poverty. Historically, the...

Canada’s Alternative Budget Urges Feds To Step Up To The Social Housing Plate

A summer crowd waiving Canadian flags watches a Canada Day parade
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives issued its 2020 alternative budget just as the COVID-19 pandemic was declared.The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives/Centre Canadien De Politiques Alternatives is a public policy think tank and charity. It first alternative budget was issued in 1995: 2020...

Government Will Protect Your Homes When . . . What? Evicted Already?

A young, healthy-looking pair of homeless asleep on a sidewalk
Are you encouraged by national and regional government crisis measures to forestall evictions and mortgage foreclosures? Think again. There seems to be an inclination to believe that, by stalling the inevitable, governments will come up with ways to rescue large chunks of their citizenry from homelessness...

Homeless? Have We Got A Solution For You! (The Usual One)

a historic line drawing of a con man being carried on a fence rail slung between two shoulders, which fellow citizens parade alongside
Why bother to report yet again about riding people who are homeless out of town on a rail? After all, somewhere at this very moment an official is probably approving transportation for a person who is homeless to . . . anywhere but here. A...

Rent Strike ‘Cause We Gotta: Is It Just Lipstick On A Pig?

sidewalk with 'rent strike 4/1' written in chalk
April 1 arrived with a whimper from renters. Across the U.S., COVID-19 related circumstances meant that at least 30% of renters could not pay rentSee in CNN: New Data Shows More Americans Are Having Trouble Paying Their Rent. May 1 saw an entirely different complexion...

Learning From The Past: Historic Housing Design For Health And Safety

clusters of students sit on a green lawn around a large fountain
From the trivial to the profound, from in-house to community-wide, here's a small collection of historical building and community design features from the past that might inform housing and neighbourhood design to provide more safety for its residents. Read more in The Conversation: Architecture: Four...

Strange COVID-19 Bedfellows Press For Social Housing

A pleasant looking white low rise public housing complex
Who wants to build social housing? Not the housing industry. They've been quite upfront and vocal over the past few years about the housing they would prefer to build — luxury housing. (That might be truly luxurious housing, or the highly profitable luxury-looking housing,...

COVID-19 Exposes Glaring Weakness of PPP Housing Supplements

across a canal, a row of unique flemish buildings
A great leap of faith permitted 'small-government' politics to largely abandon responsibility for social housing. Supposedly, one way or another, private enterprise can do things more economically and efficiently and cheaply than clunky old big government. There have been a number of different ways of creating...

The CARES Act: Evictions, Foreclosures On Pause For Some. Then What?

furniture stacked along a sidewalk outside an apartment building
An article by three U.S. Law Professors explains how the federal CARES Act only momentarily addresses the threat of eviction and only for a select group of owners and renters. CARES only protects homeowners and renters who live in homes that have some form...

A Chorus Calling For Social Housing In Victoria, Australia

stencil impage of person sleeping on a bench in Melbourne, Australia
Over 250 individuals and groups have given input to an Inquiry Into Homelessness that is being conducted by the Victoria state government in Australia. Public housing is prominent among the identified priorities.For a full list of the submissions, see: Published Submissions Barbara Hall, an...

Sure, You Could Afford The Rent, Just. Until COVID-19 Ate Your Veggies

Clumps of greens protrude from hydroponic tanks under a sunshade
Food distribution in North America is a complex, sophisticated business that runs smoothly in all but the worst times. These ARE the worst times. What Has Food Distribution Got To Do With Affordable Housing? Everything, if you can only afford to pay the rent on one hand,...

English Tenants Earn The Right To Kick The Tires On Housing Rentals

Gawkers cluster around a new electric car
In the midst of the COVID-19 uproar, a new law benefiting English tenants crept into being with little fanfare. Tenants and landlords have for 35 years been 'protected' by the Landlord And Tenant Act of 1985. During that time, profound changes have occurred that disadvantaged tenants....

Covid-19 Comic Relief: How’s Your Diphtheria?

two sets of purplish toes beside a hairy arm with a bruise on it
Okay, its a little off our usual topic but we note, courtesy of the The New York Times, that chilblains are the latest in a growing list of signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Are you suffering from purplish toes or fingers, along with half...

New Scottish End-Homelessness Recipe: 1. Find The Right Disease

A clever artwork is flat on a pavement and crawling up a wall. It looks like a squatting person holding up a sign saying, 'forget the coins, I want change'
And it seems that in the United Kingdom including Scotland, the national government has found the right disease. Only COVID-19 found the government, rather than the other way around. Nevertheless, the first step has been taken. After years of hand-wringing, half-measures and a can't do...

Sharing Shelter With A Corporation: Irreconcilable Differences?

words blah blah blah in print and hand signals
Thinking about sharing as a way of keeping a truly affordable roof over your head while maintaining some control through home ownership?
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