Monthly Archives: September 2020

Socially Rented Homes And A Green Recovery

green recovery demonstration
Public housing in Scotland is leading the way to a green recovery, at least according to two people who work at Shepperd and Wedderburn, a UK law firm. Andrew Hall and Rachel Munro note that most socially rented homes have already met their obligations...

Update: Can A Public Trust Help Solve NYCHA’s Multi-Billion Dollar Repair Woes? Not Really

New York City Housing Authority: Stapleton Project
Update: Following the New York City Housing Authority's (NYCHA's) latest plan to save itself (see post below), Kristen Hackett, a member of the Justice For All coalition, has voiced her opposition. The latest plan involves transferring ownership of NYCHA's lands to a public trust....

Albany Housing Authority Is Ducking COVID News Sensationalism — Plans To DIY

A manic looking man in a white shirt screaming through a megaphone
The housing authority in Albany, New York, is apparently fed up with the cacophony of amplified voices providing changes in direction, advice and best practices from moment to moment about how to best support their social housing tenants. The amplifier? The news media in all...

Want To Join a Rich And Fulfilling Community Life? Try Social Housing

a multiracial group of ladies smile above a colourful quilt
Any upwardly-mobile strivers intent on discovering the pot of community at the end of a rainbow should disabuse themselves of any idea that financial success and conspicuous housing are the shining pathway. One need only read as far as U.S. Senator Rand Paul's donnybrook...

Urban Redevelopment: A Case Of Failing To See Who’s There

Shelterforce has just published an article about local residents opposing development in their neighbourhood in Camden, New Jersey. Far from being the typical NIMBY story, where people with money oppose any plans to add housing for people who don't, these opponents have low incomes. Puzzled,...

The Selective Seduction Of Adult Homework: For Whom The Siren Doesn’t Call

A young woman bent over a computer desk staring at a workbook
This scribbler, having been one for much of his adult life, has always enjoyed the benefits of working from home. Also suffered some of the consequences — it's not all a bed of roses — that include an eagerness to walk many blocks to...

Housing Yes, If Not Housing First: Key To Preventing Incarceration Return

a maze of iron bars surround an otherwise featureless room
An African American producer and documentary filmmaker describes the difficulties incarcerated women face in their attempts to avoid reoffending and being pushed back into the prison system. To explore the plight of these women, Messiah Rhodes produced a two part documentary entitled Against All Odds....

Right Housing Concept, Wrong Clientele?

path beside a vineyard with houses in background
Here's a senior's housing project in Portugal with a different approach to its personal alarm system. Retirement residences and nursing homes commonly have buttons for residents to push or strings to pull when they need help. In this building, the whole roof of the...

Welcoming A Tidal Wave Of Battlefield Migrants To Europe’s Pre-Existing Housing Crisis

boat with people on board and more wading to shore
The BBC has compiled a kaleidoscope of compelling voices to describe the incredible impact of a European migrant crisis that has changed how countries worldwide relate to their underclasses. In short personal paragraphs from migrants themselves, interspersed with observations by reporters who witnessed and reported events,...

Rentierization: Landlords & Speculators With Their Foot On The Gas Burning Your Dollars

the side of an older drab brick apartment building
What exactly is 'rentierization' (aside from being this year's Grand Loser in the catchy word creation contest)? An newly-published study by the University of Sydney and the University College London Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose has coined the term to replace 'financialization' (which is not...

The Hunt For Green Social Housing On A Shoestring: Wales Edition

A wall of stacked hay bales stands in a field of stubble
Handfuls of social housing have been built as a nuisance requirement of any free-enterprise housing project in the UK. The failures of this coercive social housing program are many. Critically, the supply of social housing under this program has completely failed to keep pace...

‘Land Of The Flee!’ Everyone Else Is Using This Quip, So Why Us?

US flag decal ripped to outline of US northeast map
Because we're not so much commenting on 'fed up' New Yorkers suddenly rediscovering the joys of suburbia. More, we're wringing our hands over the disruption COVID-19 is causing to our conventional thinking. Aren't decaying suburbs meant to be forced destinations for the underclasses with...

Poverty For Profit: REIT Hard At Work In the Homelessness Mines

The colourful price board listing stocks on the New York Stock Exchange
This post is a tale of two viewpoints. From the bastions of free enterprise? Confirmation that there is literally nothing on earth that cannot, with good conscience, be turned into a profitable investment. And from the 'Red Under The Bed' crowd who believe the principal...

A New Deal That Thinks Big For Social Housing

An attractive cream-coloured apartment building
Marvin L. Mitchell calls for a "new deal" to construct millions of affordable homes for the African American population in the United States. Mitchell, an African American who teaches architecture in Washington DC, sieves through a host of public policies and programs and identifies...

Can Solar Power Be A Cost-Saving Retrofit For Social Housing?

abstract mounting of solar panels on yellow background
In some countries (America in particular), decades of neglect to social housing has presented an overwhelming mountain of repairs for many local housing authorities.Try: Can A Public Trust Help Solve NYCHA’s Multi-Billion Dollar Repair Woes? What future then, for improvements that go beyond catch-up...

Landlords Vs. Tenants: The New Warm Is Cold

The US is suffering the effects of climate change along with many other countries. Like those countries, it has taken literally centuries before both landlords and governments have come to understand at least nominally that warm housing is essential in winter. But uncounted millions have...

Domestic Violence And The Poverty Trap

graphic of person hitting another on the head
In Australia, COVID-19 has dealt a double blow to people who experience domestic violence. The lockdowns have made it much more difficult to leave and/or avoid violent partners. At the same time, job layoffs meant reduced financial independence. Women form the majority of the service...

Suffering From Illness? Take One Tiny House and Call Us When You’re Better

tiny house in field
Imagine that a member of your family has a contagious disease, and your home is too small to protect other family members from the risk of infection. No problem! The government has a plan. A tiny home delivered to your lot can provide temporary...

Social Housing At Odds With Architect Pride: Recipe For Community Failure?

Southgate Estate in 1989. The project is now demolished.
A daring architectural experiment in Greater Manchester in the 1970's is a cautionary tale for those looking towards a new era of social housing. At a time when shoddy construction shortened the lifespan of too much UK social housing, the Southgate Estate in Cheshire...

Aussie Trash Talk Blights Social Housing Future. Why Does It Happen?

coloured light projected on public housing high rise building
Propaganda is an effective tool for stigmatizing social housing. Governments trade in propaganda, swaying the view of their citizens for cynical reasons that range from a political ideology of a party in power (such as thinly-veiled racism) to purely pragmatic means of balancing budgets...

COVID-19: Not Everyone Loves Hotel Rooms, Not Even The Homeless. But Some Do.

exterior view of hotel in london england
In Western Australia, officials reacted with dismay and annoyance when a number of people who were experiencing homelessness "looked the hotel room gift horse in the mouth" and abandoned their new COVID-19 housing as unsuitable.Try: Australians Resist COVID-19 Path To Eliminate Homelessness Other well-meaning jurisdictions...

More Housing In Suburbs Need Not Be A High-Rise Horror Show

duplex, with one homes over another
Alan Mallach recently poked a hornet's nest with his article published in Shelterforce that strongly questioned the affordability benefits of "build any kind of housing, anywhere." That movement identifies deregulated zoning and an unbridled building industry as the most effective solution of creating affordable...

High Density Communities: Social Housing Does It Better

exterior view of high right apartment building
When it comes to developing healthy, vibrant social communities in high density projects, two groups do it better — social housing tenant and owner-occupiers. Their longer occupancy allows them to commit more successfully over time to a local community. By contrast, private renters often have...

A Peculiar, Militant Source of Vancouver Homeless Support. Is It For Real?

map of strathcona neighbourhood, Vancouver
Vancouver B.C. neighbours have recently invented a compassionate new way of saying NIMBY to the homeless. Forget the old, "I hate you. I don't care where you live as long as it’s Not In My Backyard." In the Strathcona neighbourhood, folks have realized that you can...

Eviction Reprieve For UK Tenants?

seated person with hands in front of face
Private sector tenants who are in arrears in the UK have been given a reprieve from eviction until September 20, 2020. The tenants learned of this decision just two days before an earlier eviction ban expired. The announcement affects 230,000 tenants who have rental arrears...

Delaware Experiment: Can Open Door To Public Housing Keep Former Felons From Reoffending?

open doorway
For many years, U.S. governments at every level have been determined to provide no "free ride" for those newly released from various prison systems. One incredibly self-defeating consequence of these policies? Released prisoners are barred from even temporarily staying with friends or relatives in government...

Just The Job To Provide Civilization’s Objective Of Health For All

youth walking along straight trail in forest
Modern free-enterprise civilization has one resounding response to human health, "Get a Job, Ya Bum!" It is addressed to each of its human "civvies," either directly or by inference, and presumably fulfills civilization's purpose to lift humanity above survival of the fittest. Human health has been...

Philadelphia Homeless Moms And Children Commandeer City Houses

yellow truck bearing the words low cost moving
Over the last few months, the saga of a Bay Area empty house occupied by homeless single moms with children has made national headlines in the U.S.TRY: Evicted Oakland Squatter-Moms Buy That Vacant House — Updated This California good news story may have been hogging...

Do UK Planning Changes Spell The End Of Social Housing?

modern looking red brick row houses
In the midst of the COVID-19 recovery, where rules change from one day to the next, the UK government is rolling out an array of planning reforms. The planning reforms are being billed as part of the country's economic recovery strategy.For a commentary on...

Helping Homeless Shelters To Welcome Pets And Their Owners

solitary person walking with a dog in the mist
Streetvet, a cadre of volunteers in England, offers veterinary services to over 1,000 pets that belong to people who are homeless. During the COVID-19 lockdown, local councils offered emergency accommodation to people who were sleeping rough, but that offer didn't always extend to their...

Evicted Oakland Squatter-Moms Buy That Vacant House — Updated

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

COVID-19 Cools The Short Term Rental Market, But . . .

The huge ferris wheel that dominates portions of the london skyline frames big ben in the background
Hamptons, a real estate company in the UK, reports that landlords there are switching from short- to long-term rentals. There is good news and bad news in this story. The good news: The amount of long term rental stock is going up In the years...

Social Rents Reduced — Comeuppance for Newham Pontius Pilate Performance

A wall of high-rise apartments with faded paint super graphics making them slightly unique
In the UK, there at last seems a limit to washing your social housing hands. To be sure, the national government continues to get away with its scheme of pushing its truly affordable housing responsibilities onto lesser government shoulders. The downloading began decades ago,...

Historic Affordability: Dancing-Lady Sweat-Equity on Houses Wearing Silly Hats

A whitewashed cottage is topped by an enormous crust of grey dried seaweed
For an unlikely look at how the past can inform the future, see and read how plastics can be replaced by seaweed that is everywhere, how multi-ton roofing can be accomplished by community cooperation, and how housing affordability is only limited by the human imagination. For...

Clever Designs for Tomorrow’s Hobo Jungles

3 men in rough dress sitting beneath the Chicago elevated concrete supports
Does a spontaneous camp of the starving homeless profit from design or planning? There are architects who believe so. Applying the thought to past hobo jungles of the Great Depression makes for unconvincing speculation.For more information and pictures, visit this blog: Hobo Information But then,...

Blacks In Tampa, Florida Seem Less Likely To Contract COVID-19. Why?

A three story apartment complex fenced off because its still under construction
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (the Foundation) recently shared stories about COVID-19 responses in nine locations across the US.They include: Tacoma, Washington; San Juan County, New Mexico; Finney County, Kansas; Harris County, Texas; Mobile, Alabama; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Sanilac County, Michigan; White Plains, New York;...

Short Term Rental Disease: Europe Uses COVID As An Affordable Housing Cure

A sign fastened to a brick wall shows the symbol and name of airbnb
Until the coronavirus pandemic, a rising number of world cities were suffering from affordable housing problems. In some cities, overheated housing markets have attracted investors acting from purely speculative reasons. With short turnarounds in mind, speculators often prefer to avoid the hassle of tenants. They...

Nanaimo BC Activists Want Social Housing As A Neighbourhood Feature

A quiet older suburban street which could be anywhere
A new article about Nanaimo, B.C. affordable housing is an example of growing sophistication by activists who weigh in on truly affordable housing proposals for their local neighbourhoods. The traditional, and now widely expected, stance by neighbourhood defenders is NIMBY. That response is often couched...

Preventing Homelessness Among Young People: The Employment Factor

A plaza of shops below and Accommodations above surround a plaza
Witnessing young people experiencing homelessness in Vancouver led to the creation of Zero Ceiling, which is based in Whistler, British Columbia. Zero Ceiling’s programs to support homeless youth have evolved over its 26 year history. Today, their Work 2 Live program offers one year...

Beyond Food Banks

An Oregon Food Bank Truck showing a slogan: We're driving hunger out of Oregon
"Pay the rent or feed the kids" articulates an extreme choice. Yet it is one that people with housing costs that eat more 30% of their income face all the time. It's one of the reasons that grocery stores have bins to collect food...

Homeless Numbers Shrinking? No Consolation For The Unfortunately Unhoused

A young man sleeps on a couch, half covered in pillows and blankets.
A recent article in Huffpost draws attention to a common yet frightening administrative technique for declaring a 'social success' when exactly the opposite is happening. Or, just as commonly, when nothing new is happening at all. In this case, homelessness can be identified as 'declining'...

The Decline And Fall Of Public Housing, Or . . . Back To Tent Camps & Slums

Tin-roofed shacks line a half street, half sewer
Is the villain called 'small-government conservatism' or is it called 'neoliberalism?'  Here at we've given up puzzling it out. Maybe we seriously need an academic lecture on the terms (which we're avoiding). In any case, we've decided that it's all down to whether...

Even As Temporary Housing, Shipping Containers Can Fail To Do The Job

An end view into the interior of a lone shipping container home
"Temporary housing" has become a growing industry. It started when the UK government gave local councils a "duty to accommodate" people who were homeless. As the number of households grew, councils developed all kinds of strategies to provide temporary housing.If you're interested, here are...

UK Tenants and Landlords Propose Government Assisted Sharing Structure For COVID-19 Losses

Businesses on high street in Corsham
OMG, landlords and Tenants are getting together to put forward a comprehensive plan that will share the burden of COVID-19 with the government. Brilliant! Can this be a signal in the UK at least that hundreds of thousands of residential tenants in arrears on...
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