Monthly Archives: December 2020

A Health Emergency On Top Of A Housing Emergency

exterior view of emergency shelter
Cynthia Puddu, who teaches at MacEwen University in Edmonton, Alberta, is calling for short and long term changes to housing and homelessness programs across North America. Before COVID-19, housing for people with very low incomes and for those who had no housing at all was...

Staying Permanently Housed in The UK: A Homeless Do-It-Yourself Version

A not terribly impressive hotel its cascade dominated by signs beside an east London street
The globally respected and successful Housing First program to help end homelessness could only be partially implemented in the UK's hurried Everybody In initiative over a period of two months, beginning in March, 2020, which saw a temporary sweep of rough sleepers off the...

Post COVID, The Wired & The Wireless: New Neighbourhoods & Locations

light shines from the tips of hundreds of thin glass rods
As the old real estate saying goes, "The three most important considerations when choosing a home are location, location, and location." The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly turned that saying on its ear, as the internet demonstrates that for certain people (largely middle class) in paperless...

A New-Born UK Child, Perceived And Treated As A Punishable Atrocity

The fingers of a baby's hand curled over the arm of a parent
Genital Mutilation? It used to happen. Still does. Sterilization? It used to happen. Still does. Deliberate infection by disease? It used to happen. Still does. Slavery? It used to happen. Still does. Child sexual abuse? It used to happen. Still does. The weakness of the targets is easy enough...

Poverty May Mean Hardship. Beyond Poverty, Destitution Is Life-Threatening

black and white image of upturned hand
Poverty comes in many shades, from careful spending, through struggles to stretch limited income, serious belt-tightening and deeper into financial desperation. All the way to destitution. Destitution has been defined as missing 2 or more essentials to life that we simply must have. These include food,...

Defund the Police? Why Not Just De-Militarize Them?

group shot of Canadian Rangers with US and Canadian mlitary personnel
Uniformed police are an inescapable symbol of White prejudice and oppression in Black America, a searing image, which will not be erased in a single lifetime. Less obvious is the profoundly insidious, though extremely convenient, relationship between cost-cutting governments and police commitment to a...

Howling Wolves Outside? Sticks Or Bricks Housing Defines How You Cope.

closeup face of a pig with white facial hair
Everybody knows that the older little piggies get, the more small-c conservative they become. Older piggies drift away from a youthful idealism and the need for change towards the comfort of the same old, same old. (That's what true conservatism is all about, isn't...

Preventing Evictions As Part Of The Right To Housing

no eviction protest sign
As part of a commitment to its residents, Toronto's City Council has confirmed housing as a human right and implemented programs support that commitment. With COVID-19 arriving on the scene, several organizations in Toronto have put pen to paper to reflect on those commitments...

Tempest In An Unoccupied Teapot: Homeless-Ravaged UK Has Too Many Homes

A block-long line of wooden framing picks out the shape of new apartments
Prior to and during the pandemic, United Kingdom builders have had the same attitude as North American Builders — "Build, Build, Build!" That attitude in the United States has been supported by a YIMBY (Yes in My Back Yard) movement, which promotes the idea...

UK Public Housing? PPP Fails. Let’s Try PCP Based On CLTs

The brick facade of semi-detached new houses
Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), given free rein for several decades, now clearly define how they can serve a particular set of needs — where the term "Public" stands for the service of government interests, and "Private" stands for the service of business interests. Neither...

A Drop-In Centre With A Housing Mission

An old red-brick hotel with a fast food restaurant tacked on its front sits on a busy Parkdale corner, the streets hung with streetcar wires.
Here's an article about the sale of a heritage rooming house building in a Toronto neighbourhood. The new owner is bucking the trend to gentrification and will continue to offer its existing residents, as well as future ones, extremely affordable housing. So who is this...

A Land Trust For Rooming Houses

Evening storefronts lit by interior lighting on Queen Street, Parkdale, Toronto
Toronto's Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust is buying properties in a rapidly gentrifying neighbourhood with the goal of making sure that homes are available to people with very low incomes. At the turn of the 20th century, the Parkdale Neighbourhood was a summer vacationing place for...

Along The Path From Homelessness For People With Pets

You might think that housed people who have pets would empathize with pet owners who are homeless. The health benefits of owning a pets, including daily exercise and companionship, are well established. Yet people who have pets while being homeless are often criticized. Two veterinarians...

Too Many Empty Social Housing Units? Are Tenants Too Picky?

Layers of rugged mountains disappear into the clouds ahead
An article from Scotland and another from Ontario, Canada tell of different ways to manage waiting lists for social housing. Both offer the right to refuse an offer of a tenancy. Both sought ways to reduce the refusals. Ontario's longstanding offer of up to three units...

Housing Speculation: Investment For Profit Without A Kinder, Gentler Side

A queue of well dressed people stand in front of a modern building
There are some who believe that a useful distinction can be made between housing "speculation" and housing "investment."See at Huffington Post:Are You A Property Investor Or Speculator? A Quick Quiz To Find Out. A more detailed discussion can be found at Real Estate:...

Between A Rock And A Hard Place: Remembering People Who Are Homeless

green plant growing up between grey and white rocks
There is new memorial in Kitchener, Ontario. It's not for a statesman or a celebrity. It's to remember and honour people who experience homelessness. At the dedication ceremony, one speaker talked about the memorial as a place for people who have lost family members...

Wanted: Canada’s First Official Housing Advocate

doors at entrance to the House of Commons in Ottawa
Recruitment for Canada's first Housing Advocate is underway. The deadline for applications is December 31, 2020. The Housing Advocate's position was created as part of Canada's commitment to make housing a human right. The Housing Advocate will be responsible for helping the country to make...

Cold Multiplies The Danger Of Ontario Homeless “Living In The Rough”

Dawn breaks across a city winters cape of icy plowed roads, with a single walker with a backpack in foreground
2020 has brought more flurries than usual to the Canadian city of Hamilton. With the onset of the pandemic, commendable flurries of activity have removed people experiencing homelessness from city streets and out of harm's way. Then there have been the inevitable flurries of self-congratulation...

Connecting Housing And Health – COVID Helps Provide Links

An arial photo shows a crowded sea of houses, a rail junction, and large industrial buildings.
Chelsea, Massachusetts is a neighbour to Boston. Its level of COVID infections is 918/10,000, the highest in the state. Like other communities with high infection rates, Chelsea residents are more likely to be Latinex, newcomers, have lower incomes, be working in a job that...

Guns, Jails And Violence: The Housing Connection

arial view of Cabrini Green housing development in Chicgo
Gun violence is one of many failings associated with public housing. In his documentary, writer, producer and director Brian Schodorf challenges that notion. The program focusses on Cabrini Green, a public housing project in Chicago, which has been demolished. The first part of the film...

Are Your Country’s Rents Ever-Increasing? Berlin Stops That Dead

Free market democracies offer little natural protection to their citizens when it comes to the "inalienable right" of gamblers to speculate for profit in life's essentials, such as food and shelter. This is particularly true when it comes to one of civilization's oldest professions. No,...

Council-Built Housing: Pure Tomfoolery or Plain Good Sense?

A hen with a fine set of teeth (thanks to photoshop)
Could your local city or regional council build its own housing? Why would it want to? One compelling argument is that, when it comes to truly affordable housing, it may be able to do so for as little as half the cost which it incurs...

Breaking The Link Between Incarceration And Homelessness In Australia

court house
Toward the end of the 20th century, when people experiencing homelessness became more visible, the programs to help them leave the streets quickly became overwhelmed. People asked, "where did they come from," and "why do they stay homeless?" As researchers began counting, and then...

“A [COVID] Factor That Came Late To Public Attention: Ventilation.”

Any array of fans in an enclosure beside a brick building
Ventilation came late to COVID 19 public attention? Really? Not in this writer's Canadian household, where stories out of East Asia early last spring described in diagrammatic detail how diners became infected with coronavirus in a restaurant, despite following prescribed social distancing guidelines. Once...

Ontario Food Banks As A Measure of Housing Insecurity

Labelled shelves hold a variety of cans of food.
3.2 million food bank visits in Ontario in the year before the pandemic: it's a hint of the scale of crisis approaching as we move towards a second year of pandemic job loss.Food insecurity goes back a long way in Canada. The first food...

NYCHA: 175,000+ Units Need $45 Billion Repairs + Energy Efficiency? Impossible?

terraced houses in UK
With the kinds of New York City Housing Authority numbers in the headline above, it's not surprising that even large governments (think cities, states, feds) can't be seen for dust as they stampede towards the exits. Surely it can't be done! But this seemingly impossible...

Sure, Skip American Public Housing As A Failure. Just Choose A Better Model

community centre
With a Democrat as President, progressives in both Congress and party will be pushing for a return to public housing as a cure for some of America's housing woes. Has public housing in the US truly been a failure? That belief has infected the entire...

How Parliamentarians Might Get A Meaningful Taste Of Public Housing

What follows is a New Zealand article with all the sharp-edged whimsy of Irishman Johnathan Swift's 1729 anonymous publication of A Modest Proposal.Here is a summary of this satirical work: A Modest Proposal Here's a New Zealand proposal that is not quite as...

Can Two Lame US Public Housing Substitutes Limp Effectively Together?

three legged race contestants lurch to the finish line
Neoliberal "small" governments over the last 50 years have developed low- and no- income housing support that was designed to replace "big government" hands-on public housing. These solutions have, by and large, not measured up to the public housing service they were meant to replace....

Aussie Feds Drop Social Housing Ball. Has Victoria, AU Picked It Up?

Two tall public housing tower blocks, built in grey concrete, stand on an inner-urban street which is lined with gum trees. Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
If noise in the press is any indication of public concern, then Australia's press over the last six months has resonated with cries from all quarters for the construction of  new social housing. Proposed by activists, academics and concerned groups of all stripes and...

Housing UK Homeless: Creeping By Baby Steps To National Responsibility?

hand tied rope net
In a 1939 alternative universe of extreme federalism, United Kingdom's Home Counties voted to go to war with Nazi Germany. Scotland did not, which is why, in present-day Schottland, loyal troops march in leather kilts. Fortunately, Wales, together with England's North, voted for neutrality, which...

Irish Grow Impatient With Housing Development “Help”

Classic Hammerhead cranes swing atop a high rise under construction
Is it a new development to help Dublin solve its social housing crisis, or a developer boondoggle to turn a tidy profit with slight-of-hand shell game in which it's easy to discover the pea, but harder to notice that it has shrunk? Or . ....

Dublin On Social Housing: Let’s Do It Better, Like The Europeans Do

Fine old red brick 5 story building with gabled rooftops line a Dublin street.
For any city, town or rural area re-thinking the benefits of social housing, it's important to acknowledge that what went wrong in the past can be a useful foundation for new and more effective social housing solutions in the future. While federal governments often...

Gary, Indiana Turns Out Public Housing Lights, Prays For Landlord Candles

Thousands of orange candle-lit paper bags lift skyward in a Buddhist ceremony
U.S. President George H.W. Bush's description of charities as "a thousand tiny points of light" has taken a rightful place in history and literature as a truly hopeful and evocative description of any nation's charities. Ultimately, however, evoking charity to rescue a critical and growing...

Canadian First Nation Seeks Sovereignty Through Housing

dettah elders home
Indigenous people who are resident in modern nations may value their often unasked for (and sometimes unwanted) citizenship. But many, if not most, harbour a strong sense of maintaining and promoting their own particular nationality, inherited from their more traditional First Nations. For some that...

Customer Sometimes Right? Social Housing Landlords Might Need To Check

view of grenfell fire and surrounding neighourhood
In the United Kingdom, the Grenfell Tower disasterSee: “Nobody Listened to Us!” Grenfell Tower Fire Survivors Demand A Legal Voice For All Social Housing Tenants and its aftermath shows up landlords' poor treatment of social housing tenants — from their most basic shelter needs,...

Would A Spoonful of Superiority Help the LGBTQ+ Community Go Down?

portrait of Ceyenne Doroshow
Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), formed to create affordable homes, have been justifying their existence over the past few years by extolling the superiority of mixed income housing. It's an argument of necessity, because the economics of such projects demand upscale housing to help finance...

Overlooked: Women’s Homelessness And Housing Need

In the months leading up to COVID-19, two groups of researchers set out to investigate homelessness among women. The researchers were concerned that women's experiences were overlooked. Both groups have produced reports to share their findings. Each used a different method to complete their...

Greet Once-Employed, Now Homeless Hoards: No Salary, Not Even Tips

A crowded restaurant kitchen of white=clad workers prepares customer meals
Good Value = Popular = Crowding = Exuberant Conversation = Infected Spittle-Spatter blown away in a patio wind, but sucked into deadly circulation when trapped indoors. The future of the hospitality industry once lived, and now dies, in the loving embrace of conviviality. Sure, totally...

U.S. Pilot Project Smooths The Transition From Jail To Community

The Homecoming Project in Oakland, California matches people who are leaving prison with community hosts who provide housing for six months. The idea is to provide safe and secure housing and avoid landing back in prison. And it's working. Since the project began in 2018,...

U.S. Evictions Tsunami? Still Looming As Some Hope To Cancel Rents

Covid-masked activists hold up rent cancellation sign in Spanish
The U.S., like many countries staggering under the impact of COVID-19, is facing a hopefully-temporary crisis of individual and family poverty. One consequence has been an inability of a great many to afford home mortgage payments as well as rent payments — the latter...

While Waiting For Econ 101 Solutions, Welcome To The 1890 Slums

rabbits in wire large wire mesh cage
When it comes to the creation of affordable housing, particularly truly affordable social housing, neoliberal government thinking still prevails after 50 years of questionable results. The tried but not-so-true prescription: back away from government regulation such as permits and by-laws. The free housing market...

Ranking By Numbers Gets In The Way Of Homelessness Services

A preoccupation with numbers may be getting in the way of helping people to leave homelessness. This insight comes from a report that focusses on making homelessness services more accessible to Indigenous people who live in Canada.Indigenous people comprise a small proportion of Canada's...

Public Housing: For Heaven’s Sake Let The Good Times Roll!

A group of children mug for the camera while making 'okay' symbols with their fingers
Is social housing a disease or a cure? Half a century spent pondering that question has left neoliberal governments around the world no closer to an answer. One thing is clear, though. Home ownership as an ever-inflating retirement piggy bank continues to raise the price...

Sounding The Bell For Public Spending On Social Housing

A crane rises above a new high-rise public housing building with a background of similar high rises
For the past few decades, countries caught in the thrall of neoliberalism (e.g. America, Australia, Canada, UK, Ireland, etc.) have stood by the theory that governments have no place in housing anyone, particularly the poor. The deliberate flight by these governments from the construction and...
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