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Monthly Archives: July 2020

As COVID-19 Lingers, A Focus On Coming Landlord Vacancy Crises

six sketches of hands
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A tsunami of evictions looms on the horizon for individuals and families who have suffered job loss in the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. But every single eviction often has two kinds of sufferer — the evictees themselves as well landlords — especially the...

A Different Way To Fight Housing Discrimination

statue of justice
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On July 1, an English a court handed down a ruling to make it easier for people who receive social assistance to move to housing in the private rental market. For years, private letting agents refused to rent to people receiving assistance. It was no...

Is Belle Park On Its Way To Becoming A Land Trust?

arial view of Belle Park
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Last month, we shared a story about a homeless encampment at Belle Park in Kingston, Ontario.See: Homelessness Underfoot: Grey Problems For Black And White Decision-Making As of today, the site at Belle Park continues to operate with supports from the local government and community...

WA COVID-19 Recovery Plans Include Green Social Housing

An old red brick brewery stands on the sea shore
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What an opportunity to kick-start the national housing industry by building much needed social housing! There is a great deal of activist push for this COVID-19 inspired recovery program. Too bad not everyone is snapping at the activist bait. Some nations and states are disappointing...

Bang-A-Pot COVID Key Worker Support Fades Towards A Housing Tragedy

house built for World War I veteran
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Australia's COVID-19 response required some people to work, not from home, but at their job site. Similar to other countries, the government heralded these key workers, who included waste collectors, child care providers and bus drivers in addition to the nurses, doctors, laboratory technicians...

Charitable Housing Associations Step Up

masked front line worker with raised fist
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Housing associations in and around London, England have been increasingly frustrated in their efforts to build housing that is affordable for households with low and very low incomes.Try: UK Council Housing: Beginning Of The End? Or End Of The Beginning? They have created a...

Canary’s Song: Australia Needs Social Housing, Other Big Construction Projects

interior of architect's offices
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Australia went at COVID-19 'hard and early'. It is now moving on to recovery schemes well in advance of countries such as the United States, which continues to struggle with its first waves of infection. But the price the country is now paying is an uncomfortable...

As the COVID Wolf Lurks Outside, Evictions Will Soon Push Millions Out The Door

makeshift dwelling next to dump and under railway bridge, circa 1936
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What happens in a country like XXXX when YYYY renters are evicted? The Big Question is being asked in many countries around the world. Meanwhile, governments proceed as if the coronavirus pandemic is somehow over, and eviction moratoriums can now be cancelled within days...

Poor Folk Get Connected As COVID turns Homework Into Schoolwork

library interior with computers for public use
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For several years now, it's been clear in America and other countries that internet access is growing in importance for providing individuals, old as well as young, to equal opportunity education. But not everyone has the money to pay for home internet connections that are...

Will New Large Social Housing Projects Become ‘Food Deserts’?

grocery storefront with fruit and vegetable display
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For those low and no income residents lucky enough to win a lottery and move into one of the handfuls of subsidized housing, finding food will not be a problem. Grocery chains are attracted to large luxury and middle class developments, and social housing...

Abrupt Endings: The Child Welfare System

cake with letter shaped candles that spell happy birthday
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Instant adulthood. That's what's expected of youth in Ontario's child welfare system. The idea behind the child welfare system is to provide stability for young people as they grow up. So why the 'out you go' farewell on your 18th birthday? As part of the...

Housing Commodification Weakens Social Reproduction: The Undoing Of Cities?

woman washing dishes
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Is social reproduction a suitable topic for an affordable housing web site? In the hands of David Madden, definitely. The term 'social reproduction' incorporates the activities and the processes that go into creating a functioning society. Examples of the 'social' aspect include child and elder...

Everyone In? Not Really.

empty park benches
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England's Everyone In program drew a lot of attention. On Mar 27, 2020, the national government gave local Councils 48 hours to find housing for everyone who was sleeping rough. Councils sprang into action and rough sleeping virtually ended, at least briefly. People who were...

Energy Cost Of Home Shelter Suggests Urban Development Policy Options

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Why does COVID-19 discriminate? In the U.S, the Centre for Disease Control reports that Black people — some 13 per cent of the total US population, accounts for close to one third of all COVID-19 patients. A clear answer to the question is evident in...

Youth: Tomorrow’s Recovery From Today’s Pandemic Wolf At the Door

Like the three little pigs who are inclined to stop shaking with fear when they no longer hear the wolf huffing and puffing outside their doors, we are slowly beginning to realize that, momentary good news or not, the COVID-19 wolf is still out...

Survivors Of Domestic Violence Win The First Battle In Their Fight To Stay Local

boots lined up along a pavement in a line
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A group of mothers fleeing domestic violence took the council in Lambeth, England, to court. The issue? The moms’ right to be on a waiting list for social housing in Lambeth. After two years, no one had moved to social housing. Some of the moms...

Black Or White, There’s Real Power in Cooperation And Community

Black women sorting pecans
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How to compete with aggressive land developers, particularly in the largely unshackled competition of free-enterprise nations such as the United States? Land developers have pockets lined with cash to outbid more modest competitors. They bank land and save prime acquisitions for a long-distant rainy day....

Einstein’s Definition of Insanity: ‘Sweeping Away’ Homeless Again And Again

bronze statue of tablet which bears the expression E equals MC squared
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Ontario Provincial Premier Doug Ford says, "You just can't pitch a tent in a public park." Of course you can.For more: Doug Ford Says Homeless People Should Stop Pitching Tents in Toronto Parks And if you have no other place to live, not...

Court Trashes UK Universal Credit Testing That Refused To Learn – Updated

A grinning urchin looks up from being hard at work sorting a bin of dried beans.
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The national government in England set out to reform its existing social assistance programs under the banner "Universal Credit" in 2013. It planned a phased implementation over four years. The government promised a "test and learn" approach. The program is designed to "encourage" people to...

A COVID-19 Recovery Plan To End Homelessness

assembling modular housing at a site
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The mission of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness is pretty self evident. These days, it’s making the case that ending homelessness should be part of Canada’s COVID-19 recovery plan. The Alliance’s strategy, titled Recovery for All, includes 300,000 new permanently affordable rental housing units...

Guaranteed Annual Income: Canada Tried It. 30 Years Later The Results Are In

Train station, Dauphin Manitoba
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Could a basic income rescue low and no income citizens from a life of worry, job  and housing insecurity, as well as ill-health costly not only to individuals but also their community as a whole? The uncertainties and job loss associated with COVID-19 has...

We’ve Been Taught How To Map Overcrowding. Let’s Fix It.

coloured street map of a portion of London England, circa 1889
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The COVID-19 pandemic can be mitigated by social distancing — maintaining a healthy distance between any pair of people in order to prevent one passing on the infection to another. A growing number of reports from around the world are linking poverty and infection. Poor...

Could Remote Working Herald A Transit and Housing Revolution?

combine harvesting wheat on the Canadian prairie
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The internet has had a remarkable impact on human life, creating powerful new ways in which people can interact. But business has been reluctant to abandon itself to the full scope of the internet's potential, believing that close, 'hands-on' supervision of workers is essential...

In A Pandemic, How Unreliable Are Social Housing Tenants?

A partially torn-down set of social housing high rise towers
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These days, myth-making in America seems to be an approved government function from the top on down. One myth, which has been fashioned and matured over many years, is the idea that social housing is a magnet for the most irresponsible in society. Or, if...

Homelessness In England: How Councils And Localism Make It Grow

Starting in 2010, homelessness in England began to rise. It wasn’t specific to any particular group. The numbers of people sleeping rough, the families with children, and the women and children who were fleeing domestic violence, all rose. Some observers attribute the rise in homelessness...

Architectural Design For Care And Well-Being

entrance to a nursing home
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Pretty much everyone is hearing about the poor quality of life for seniors that has been exposed by COVID-19. Care conditions have been held to blame, but the roots of poor care are well-bedded in poor housing conditions. Some seniors are fortunate to have substantial...

Tips For The Willing — Building Support For Social Housing

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When Alexander von Hoffman at Harvard penned History Lessons for Today’s Housing Policy, he was writing in 2012, during the Obama administration. What possible relevance could that have for today? Well, quite a lot, actually. Von Hoffman presents an overview of the forces that have...

America’s Public Housing: Born To Die

daylight can be seen through the walls of a demolished public housing high rise
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In Vienna, a sizeable portion of the population lives in public (social) housing. We're not talking just low and no income folks, but a wide range of middle class citizens as well.Try: America Has A Bogeymen Under The Bed: Social Housing. Austria Sure Doesn’t! Singapore's...

Keys To Ending Homelessness

A keyhole shaped entrance way before a house door
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A team of 15 researchers across Canada wanted to find out what services helped people experiencing homelessness who are living with a mental illness. They reviewed every published study that has evaluated a program providing permanent supportive housing and/or income assistance. The findings have...

“Public Housing Saved My Life.” From Racist Abuse To Aussie Senator

portrait of Australian Senator Lidia Thorpe
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Critics focused on the failure of public housing find it convenient to blame its woes upon the collective inabilities of its residents. This dismissal has been much easier to accept than the failures of design, construction, and management that have plagued social housing for...

From Vienna, Social Housing Designed With Social Purpose In Mind

house perched upside down on edge of larger building
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Social Housing as nuisance/necessity for the human scrapings at the bottom of the income barrel? Not in Austria (and particularly Vienna) where social housing is the housing of choice for a broad range of incomes. Not surprising then, to encounter living options and design possibilities...

Supports To Students Experiencing Homelessness: A Tale Of Uneven Access

group photo of students attending school while experiencing homelessness
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In 1987, thanks to the McKinney-Vento Act, US high school students who experienced homelessness began to receive supports to continue with their schooling. Over time, the definition of homelessness has broadened and the supports have been enhanced so that the supports can assist a...

Making The Prevention Of Homelessness A Priority: The Role Of Social Innovation

five young people with four dogs seated on a sidewalk
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Homelessness is not something to wish on anyone. This is especially true for young people. Instead, we should put a priority on preventing young people from experiencing homelessness in the first place. So argues Steve Gaetz, who teaches at York University and one of...

The Slow Drift Back To Toxic 19th Century Urban Life & Housing

housing conditions during cholera epidemic in 19th century England
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Everywhere, higher levels of COVID-19 sickness and death are being associated with urban regions of low income, overcrowding and substandard housing conditions. These regions often contain, or are exclusively comprised of, housing where the government is the landlord. Rather than slapping our foreheads in amazement...

Students Create Financing Model To Protect Affordable Housing From Market Forces

sketch of adobe houses
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HUD (the US Department of Housing and Urban Development) sponsors an annual affordable housing competition. The competition is open to university students across the country. The site chosen for this year's competition was in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Finalists travelled to the site and met...

Social Housing Evictee Death: Can A ‘Safeguarding Board’ Make A Difference?

A harbour view of moored yachts with houses and an old castle in the background
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What is it with governments and their agencies faced with a need to learn as they go? Even when they come right out and pledge to do so, they seem remarkably resistant to the idea that parts or all of a particular program are...

Prefab: A History of Hope For Truly Affordable Housing

single storey detached prefabricated home in situ
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Over the last few years, the free market home-building industry has demanded various forms of government bribery in order to shift its attention away from its preferred profitable activity, i.e. the construction of luxury housing, faux luxury housing (McMansions) and, in a reluctant pinch,...

Never Let A Serious Crisis Go To Waste: BC Low And No Income Benefit

Highrises crowd the Vancouver North Shore waterfront with mountains rising into the mist behind
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Commentators around the world are totting up some of the previously unthinkable changes that COVID-19 has offered to low and no income residents. The response in British Columbia, Canada, had some unusual elements. It also had a much lower low death rate from COVID-19...

Homeless-Built Homes: From A Tiny Start To A High-Rise Tomorrow?

Several hard-hatted volunteers lift a stud wall into position.
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Anyone can learn to do-it-yourself (DIY), even this writer's corporate-lawyer father who turned foot-wide biscuit tins into lamps that never fell over. An intriguing project in Oakland California is assisting youth who are homeless as they design and build a village of tiny homes. It...

Vienna Points To Social Housing As A Key To Urban Resilience

An attractive stucco social housing building dating from 1923
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The right to adequate housing in a time of civilization-threatening climate change: how will nations respond to these twin imperatives which, on the surface at least, appear to compete for national attention and funding? The need for affordable housing was already a growing series of...

Ireland Plans A Rebuild, But Not For People Who Need Housing

A cluster of glass-faced medium and high rises on a dockside
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The government in Ireland has announced its COVID-19 recovery plan. Its promises for housing raise serious questions about whether the government is paying any attention to its electors. Housing was a key issue in the national elections that were held in February.For more on the...

Moving Day, Québec Leaves A Few Without Leases: Disaster Or Triumph?

A couple of Montreal girls sit on a couch in the midst of their furniture, presumably waiting for a truck to pick up their belongs and take them to their newly leased apartment
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A couple of weeks ago the Québec government stuck its neck out and resolved to shepherd that province's preponderance of rental lease renewals on July 1st every year. They announced a series of measures to be taken with the goal of leaving no family...

Court Trashes UK Universal Credit Testing That Refused To Learn

A grinning urchin looks up from being hard at work sorting a bin of dried beans.
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The national government in England set out to reform its existing social assistance programs under the banner "Universal Credit" in 2013. It planned a phased implementation over four years. The government promised a "test and learn" approach. The program is designed to "encourage" people to...

American Activists Prepare For Tsunami Of COVID-Caused Evictionsc

two evictors wearing ball caps and nitrile gloves carry furniture and belongings to the curb
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In America, COVID-19-triggered eviction moratoriums — where they exist — are bandages over open wounds. Those who continue to be unable to pay their rent continue to fall further and further into debt to their landlords. Thanks to the moratoriums, some tenants are being...

Will Pandemic Essential Workers Become Homeless After COVID-19?

exterior of child care centre during COVID-19 response
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The government in Australia offered free child care during COVID-19. In the years preceding the pandemic, the government had refused to increase public subsidies for child care services, so the move to provide child at no cost came as a welcome surprise, especially for...

Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Collected Artist, And Homeless For Years

portrait of Paul Atherton
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No, you don't have to be one of life's failures (and therefore deserving of your fate) to become homeless. It can happen by simple economic accident in a world defined by payment rules and credit ratings that depend upon them. The same rules and...

Churchill Was A Prophet And Leader For Victory In ‘World War House’

a portrait of an unrecognizably young, slender Winston Churchill
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'World War House?' Churchill prophesied that war in 1909 when he was the President of the Board of Trade. He lamented landlords gouging tenants, a chronic housing condition which caused suffering for the entire economy of Britain. It took 42 years, but Churchill was able...

Renters Are Deer In Landlord’s Headlights. Banks Help Mortgagees Off The Road

night shot of deer, with eyes illuminated by headlights
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Once upon a time, no sensible, successful individual or family would own a home when it was possible to rent. After all, who needs to worry about leaky faucets and repainting dingy rooms when a specialist class of managers — landlords — can take...

Building Better Tenant Experience

exterior of 9 flats in Black and White. Colur has been added to one of the units.
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Moving to new housing is a very big deal. This is something that community based agencies, non-profits and charities understand well. As the housing market has changed, community agencies have changed the programs they offer to help people with very low and no incomes...
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