Monthly Archives: March 2021

Australia Human Right to Housing: A Practical Step Forward? Or Lipstick On A Pig?

If to no one else in the world, Australia's struggle with the notion of a Human Right To Housing should be of interest to Americans. Alas, the well-housed authors of the U.S. Constitution didn't capture this right to housing in their famous document (unlike...

Royal Commission in Victoria, Australia Calls For Public Supported Housing

teddy bear embracing another teddy bear on a bed with a comforter covered with hearts
A Royal Commission Into the Mental Health System in Victoria, Australia, has just issued its final report. In its two years of activity, the Commissioners received 12,500 submissions. The report makes 65 recommendations to reform the mental health system. Recommendation number 25 focuses on...

Yes, We Know You’re Homeless. But It’s The End Of The Line. Everybody Out!

Ever ride a transit system and wonder where that homeless person dozing a few seats away will spend the night? Not in that seat, you'd probably predict with some confidence. Sooner or later they'll be pitched back onto the street to fend as best...

Signs That COVID Sustains Historic Discrimination

US ten and twenty dollar bils fanned out on cloth
Elijah de la Campa has done some interesting research about rental arrears among small landlords during COVID. He used racial characteristics of neighbourhoods to make comparisons about the extent of rental arrears and strategies the landlords used to manage the arrears. De la Campa is...

Hotels As Transitional Housing: Pandemic America Explores Its Medium & Long Term Future

An artist's impression of white 3 story modular-built housing with some tens of windows piercing its facade.
Hotels and motels have always been dear to the emergency management heart. While some communities have other opportunities nearby (e.g. underused military barracks, student housing out of term-time), the go-to resources after big fires, big floods, big windstorms are usually the hospitality industry rooms...

Speaking Up For Public Housing In Connecticut

One third of the households on the waiting list at the Housing Authority of New Haven live outside New Haven's boundaries. The Housing Authority is only allowed to build in New Haven. A bill is making its way through the Connecticut Legislature that could...

Why Read Fiction About Homelessness?

A collection of strange object appear to be a person with a backpack, stepping out
Why read a fictional account of homelessness? Surely the facts speak for themselves and are sufficient. Keith Oatley, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, has studied that question. His research suggests that the experience of reading fiction affects people differently than...

Indoor Homeless Sheltering Pricey? San Francisco Finds Outdoor Shelters No Bargain

a refuse track waits curtsied as workers dismantle a homeless tent encampment
What's in a name? Unofficial collection of tents together with a ragtag of people pick up tags such as  "A Crime-Ridden Blight," or a "Danger to the Community." Here's an example from Western Australia, where that State is totally onboard and prepared to act...

U.K. Olympian Cyclist Raises Money For Transitional Tiny Village

An 'L' shaped grouping of tiny houses, full size ones in the background
How do tiny homes fit into a country's affordable housing scheme? The attraction of tiny homes is undeniable to certain kinds of imagination, impractical as they might seem to others. That is, until housing costs become so high that tiny home high rise living...

Preventing Future Homelessness: A Door Opens For Youth To Attend School

side view closeup of a girl's face as she studies, pen in hand
Family Promise of Clark County, Washington has teamed up with local schools to operate a learning centre for children and youth who are experiencing homelessness. The learning centre provides a space, equipment and support and can accommodate up to 25 students. The program began...

The Hollywood Star Who Was A One-Man Employment Agency For The Homeless

Closeup of Robin Williams. superimposed on the picture is text which reads: I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone.
And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And Cain said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper? Many don't realize that one famous Hollywood actor, now deceased, took his responsibility as "his brother's keeper" in an unusually forceful manner....

Mediterranean Holiday Homes To Be Expropriated For Social Housing

and coloured houses shed roofs climb up a hillside amid trees
Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, Formentera. Familiar names to holiday makers who flock there in summer. These are part of the Balearic Islands off the Mediterranean coast of Spain — just tiny specks of over-touristed Europe where accommodations have become more and more expensive. Not beyond...

Benton Harbour, Michigan Students Sock It To The Homeless

A stack of socks and beanies is a riot of colour
So you're homeless, broke, and need clothing. What to do? Fortunately for many in this situation, charities collect all kinds of useful clothing and pass them on to the needy. Trousers, shirts, dresses, overcoats and shoes are typical donations that can help a person...

We Had To Go To The Aussie Outback To Learn About Courses For Rental Tenants

Well, we didn't actually go, there, but we found a story published in Australia that turned out to be exactly to the point. As free market renters, it never actually occurred to us that we ourselves might need a course on how to become, not...

Housing Loss: What Governments Can Do Now & The Challenge They Face In The Future

a surgical masked woman holds a sign saying you can't stay home if you don't have a home
Give. Keep it simple. Keep it coming. Keep your data. These simple rules, together with explanations, lay out how jurisdictions that wish to provide housing security can help their citizens to weather a pandemic. See more about these rules at the Brookings Institute: Four lessons...

Investor Defence In A Pandemic Battle: Preserving The Thin Red Bottom Line

In the arena of housing, the pandemic has in spectacular fashion pitted two classes of people against each other: Shelterers, and Investors. Who comes out on top? Employing the classic logic of the modern world, we know that on one hand "Shelterers gotta shelter." And...

“Poor Floors” & Social Housing Apartheid: How Far Can Developers Be Allowed To Go?

a pair of handcuffs close an iron gate. Behind it is a lush garden.
How far can developers go to create phoney "separate but equal" housing projects? The answer is simple: as far as they like . . . when it's their money that is at risk. They already have demonstrated a capacity to jump in at the...

Everywhere Public Private Partnerships Are Still Flavour Of The Millennium. Not In Dublin.

hammerhead cranes rise above half-finished high rise housing
Has the City Council in Dublin, Ireland found a formula to replace Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), which have dominated neoliberal government thinking during this new millennium? Recently, Dublin's Council has been at war with their own staff. Elected representatives have spurned in-house expert advice and...

Charity Can Stave Off Evictions, Except Where Governments Have Created “Walking Dead”

Several large red leather chairs sit out on a mud lot, a homeless person surrounded by belongings occupies one.
With the good news of increasing numbers of vaccinated citizens in many countries, there are hints of life possibly returning to normal in the not-too-distant future. This news, however comes with a very much not-silver lining for many vulnerable citizens. The spectre of eviction...

What To Do About Evictions: An American Perspective On A Worldwide Pandemic Problem

a man in a red shirt hunches over as he packs his possessions into the trunk of a car
In the U.S. during the pandemic, Wake Forest University Law Professor Emily Benfer has become an expert much in demand to help make sense of a tangled thicket of national eviction bans and the nature of their impact on individuals, government and society. Shelterforce recently recorded...

Iowa: The Darkness Underlying a Charming Girl Scout Cookie Sale Story

a group of grinning girls in blue t-shirts pose casually for a picture on a rocky outcrop
How wonderfully Middle America! Iowa Girl Scouts bust a record for cookie sales! Impossible not to smile after reading about it. Almost, but not quite impossible. Hidden beneath this good news story is a contemporary American tragedy. What is it? The troop has no plans...

Government Transparency Crisis: Getting The Lead Out

Lead is bad for your health. When young children were discovered to have high levels of lead in their blood, health researchers in the U.S. began looking for sources of exposure. Lead showed up in the paint used in houses and in the pipes...

Why Acquire Existing Rental Housing As Part Of An Affordable Housing Strategy?

balconies on a high rise building in Toronto
This post considers the potential of a program to acquire existing rental units as part of an affordable housing strategy. The context is Canada, but the thinking could be applied in other countries. One of the goals of Canada’s National Housing Strategy (NHS) is to...

Options To Avoid Watching A Loved One Fade Away Behind Glass

Aging Americans without a great deal of money might be curious to know whether Canada's medicare-for-all system helps out those whose futures include nursing home care. Canada's nursing home system is not in fact federally controlled and varies somewhat from one province/territory to another. But in...

Housing Advocacy At The Highest Levels Of The Church Of England

Beautiful hundreds of years old housing in parklike grounds
The Church of England (C of E) has joined the chorus calling for more housing for people with very low and no incomes. This is one result of work by a group that the C of E commissioned in 2019 to investigate the housing...

Up And Out: Public Housing as Short Term Rehab vs. Destination Living

A wooden frame bed with a straw mattress in a bare room
Public housing in America and Europe was originally envisioned as desirable, secure, adequate, long term housing for workers facing a World Economic Depression that lasted a decade in the 1930's. Following World War Two, public housing further offered a vision of a healthy living...

Food Insecurity (e.g. Food Deserts) And What To Do About it

Young, affluent appearing shoppers outside a fruit display of a corner grocery store
It has been estimated that 1.6 million residents in New York City are food insecure. They do not have convenient, reliable access to the nutrition they need for healthy lives. Leaving it to the private sector? That's what entire countries are doing, and much of...

Does Architecture Deliberately Support Racism? MoMA Examines How And Why

A tumble-down white single story building on a dirt lot.
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York is currently exploring the "bad and ugly" aspects of racist architecture as a prelude to a celebration of the "good" — modern architectural and planning design which counters prejudice. Beginning with the the "leftover, disposable, and...

Updated: Rent Controls — Panacea Or Pariah?

high rise apartment building
Ken Gibb and Alex Marsh are investigating the academic literature about rent controls. It seems there hasn't been a comprehensive review for 20 years. The final report will be issued shortly, but in the meantime, they shared some of their findings in the Welsh...

Wrap-Around Support Program For Homeless Moms Gains Stable Housing

An unusual swimming pool structure looks like a train of dark grey carriages
WoodGreen Community Services has scored another triumph in their award winning Homeward Bound program, with 36 new permanent rental housing units coming on stream in Toronto's Regent Park later this year. WoodGreen has been providing community services for over 100 years. Homeward Bound started in...

COVID An Urgent Call To Arms for “Space Cadets”

Nearly all urban spaces on earth grew like topsy until the modern practice of zoning became common. Zoning then chased pig farms out of the downtown, lead smelters out of residential neighbourhoods and dramatically helped to create healthier neighbourhoods and healthier neighbours. But zoning made...

A Real Get Out Of Jail Card, Maryland Style

Razor Wire is coiled at the foot of a forbidding, barred tower
Some American social programs greatly benefit private enterprise that builds and/or manages the country's penal system. The term "benefits" in no way suggests that the jailing industry can (or even wants to) proudly point to another rehabilitated human being returned to a constructive role...

Jersey City “Grows Up” Helped By World Economic Forum To Fight Food Insecurity

lettuce growing in stacks
Food insecurity is a growing danger for the most vulnerable in many advanced countries. What do you do when you or your extremely low income family encounter a financial crisis? Cut back on expenditure. You have to.  And all too often, the only thing...

City of Toronto Helps Homeless-Loving Carpenter Follow in Famous Footsteps

A Painting Post Middle Ages (lifelike) showing young Jesus, Mary and Joseph at a carpenter's bench
In an age where social media allows everyone to preach the gospel of certainty for every possible lifestyle, social behaviour and religious belief under the sun, we wondered how Jesus might fare in such a world trying to earn attention. We speculated he might...

Could “Social Housing For All” In California Crush A Truly Affordable Housing Crisis?

exterior view of student housing built and operated by the University of California
Two cities are commonly linked with the current outstanding success of social and public housing as a way of life. One is Vienna. The other is Singapore. In both places, social housing shares an important characteristic that sets it apart from a style of social...

When Homes Become Offices And Offices Become Homes: A Fantasy City Future?

long tables with workstations mounted on them have a background of windows overlooking a downtown area
In a topsy turvey pandemic world, many commercial office workers have seen their places of employment fragment and scatter backwards along commuter routes, down familiar residential streets, and in through their front doors, there to lodge, perhaps in a corner of a cherished bedroom. Left...

America’s Next “New Deals,” Need To Be Not Only Green, But Black

poster calling for racial justice and a green new deal
Recalling the successes of FDR's 1930's New Deal, progressive politicians and their followers have a number of hurdles to overcome in re-inventing another New Deal from the myths of yesterday. Roosevelt's New Deal ultimately was more than a one-year-plus stopgap expenditure to deal with a...

Social/Public Housing An Aboriginal Disaster? Why Not Papakāinga?

litograph of Maori house beside waterfall
There would seem to be nothing quite as catastrophic as Inuit housing in Canada's far north, where much of the population was forcibly resettled much less than a century ago.Try: Housing Conditions In Canada’s Far North: Bad Enough To Make You Sick But in...

Universal Basic Income Part 3: Housing Benefit Model

poster from a campaign for Universal Basic Income in Colombia S.A.
This is the third of three posts about Universal Basic Income.Part 1 took a peek into an extensive report by the BC Basic Income Panel. Part 2 considered the value of models and forecasting The British Columbia government's Basic Income Panel (the Panel) is recommending...

Universal Income Part 2: Models and Forecasts

bright pink vest with "basic Income march" printed on the back
This is the second of three posts about Universal Basic Income. It reports on work by the Canadian Centre For Economic Analysis, which models the economic impacts of universal basic income. The third post will centre on a report that proposes a universal rental...

Universal Basic Income Part 1: Applying A Justice Framework

text in support of universal basic income dating from 1516
This is the first of three posts about Universal Basic Income. It is an idea that has been around for some time but often seen as out of step with small government philosophies. Yet, in an age of largely divided politics, Universal Basic Income...

Empty Housing Not Just A Waste Of Shelter But Also A Community Disease

abandonned two storey brick home surrounded by overgrown shrubbery and trees
Empty houses plague not only cities, but the countryside. Some are empty because speculators are holding them for a quick turnover in a hot housing market.Try: City Of Vancouver Successfully Puts Idle Homes To Work Others are empty second (holiday) homes, only used for...

Public Housing As Architectural Activism: A Sydney Working Example

floor plan of residential unit
From Sydney, Australia to Ontario, Canada: celebrating a new Ontario Association of Architects president with a Down Under query about the role of architects in public Housing. Are we looking at architects as handmaidens to builders on budget, with the art of building reduced...

Does “Right To Housing” Also Mean “Right To Internet”?

kids with bikes on sidewalk beside road
Slowly but surely, communities are looking towards internet access as a key infrastructure component of housing. Expressed as a part of the United Nations right to adequate housing, infrastructure is a necessary link between a home to its community. There are already long-established and...

KiwiBuild Didn’t Solve The Housing Crisis. Let’s Hope For More From KiwiRent

semi-detached state owned homes in Christchurch, New Zealand, suburb
New Zealand has taken steps to ease a housing crisis it shares with many nations, all of whom are suffering from the financialization of housing — speculative buying and selling by investors. It is pushing both purchase prices and rents higher and higher, threatening...

Homeless Numbers? Fool Me Once – Worldwide. Plenty of Shame To Go Around

b & w image of the expression fool me once
Remember that clever saying? "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." How does this apply to governments with resident experts, contract experts, and the funds to otherwise get to the bottom of city or state or government homelessness? Well, gosh...

Public “Housing Of Last Resort” Offers Advice on Community Rebuild

buttons printed with the words "ask me"
It's easy to dismiss the ideas and perceptions of those who live in "housing of last resort." Barricaded in poorly maintained apartments, crunching across needles strewn in hallways, harassed for entry by homeless hoping to sleep and poop in stairwells: what could these tenants possibly...

Health Sector As Housing Advocate?

exterior view of children's hospital in Chicago
The health care industry in the United States is adding its voice to those calling for affordable and safe housing. Why this is happening? Health care organizations have been investing in supportive housing for some time. These projects typically include permanent housing with support services...

Updated – Minimum Wage Hikes Can’t Touch Affordable Housing Crises

a sign saying 'raise the minimum wage' is taped around a light standard
Recently, we described an initiative in New York state to assess the impact of raising the minimum wage. The people who crunched the numbers reported that adding $2.00 or even $3.00 would not be enough to pay for housing comfortably. An update to this story...

Is Housing-Proud Singapore A Go-To For Urban Planning After COVID?

street level view of community centre flanked by high rise apartment buildings
With COVID-19 exacerbating housing crises worldwide, it's hard to avoid being awestruck with Singapore's dramatic public housing successes.Try: How Singapore Got Public Housing Right That city-state has planned thoughtfully and carefully, but despite its successes makes no claims of perfection.Singapore has been slow to...

Playing Chicken With People Who Need Housing

Toronto City Council has crunched the numbers and come up with a plan to build more supportive housing in that city. The plan will provide homes designed for people who need support to live independently in the community. Every additional home with supports means...
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