Monthly Archives: April 2021

US Veteran Finances Can Lead To Homelessness. More Than Just A “Duuh” Story?

Our first thought was that linking financial woes to homelessness was a celebration of the obvious. The second thought, however, was that a large number of non-veterans in different countries should be grateful towards the U.S. long term commitment to their former armed services...

Homeless Tent Camps Unsanitary? Humans Have To Go Somewhere.

A row of 4 portable toilets stand in a field
Compassionate responses to growing homelessness crises can be frustrating. The responders may be people experiencing homelessness themselves, or activists, or local government. The recipients of the responses may be neighbourhood residents, local businesses, even other levels of government that feel they have a better...

Here’s The Dope On Green Public Housing In Paris

An arm's full bundle of nondescript brown hemp stems perhaps average a meter in length
Vegetation, it seems, has a history as effective housing insulation. Straw bale houses were not uncommon as first residences during the settlement of the American WestStraw bale houses are enjoying something of a renaissance. Try: A Guide to Building Using Straw Bales. Seaweed roofs...

Postwar Public Housing: US Built A Failed Lower Class, Japan Created The Middle

multi level apartment building in Japan
There's a well-known saying: "you are what you eat." In postwar US and Japan, it might fairly be argued that you were how you were housed. Supposedly classless America busied itself creating a significantly racist public housing that over the years defined its tenants...

Cabrini-Green: The Frankenstein Monster of American Public Housing . . .Revisited

bits of crumbling concrete dangle from iron rebar as machinery knocks down a high rise building
Ten years ago, the last building of Chicago's Cabrini-Green public housing project was torn down. During its lifetime, the 23 buildings housing more than 15,000 mostly black residents became a national poster child of everything that was horrible and hateful about American Public Housing. The...

Australia Ponders How Community Housing Benefits All, Not Just The Poorest

the face of a while high rise, its balconies festooned with greenery
A recent article in Australia's Fifth Estate explores two important benefits that may accrue in the future from a more active program of building community housing.There's literally a whole world of English language terms such as "community" housing. Social, public, state, council, cooperative — all...

The Brookings Institute Compares Rental Housing Strategies Around the World

The words apartment to let in five different languages
The COVID-19 pandemic in the United States has played havoc with that nation's housing, as it has in most, if not all, other countries in the world. This is particularly true of rental housing, where tenants have been faced with job layoffs and loss...

Public Housing: Love It Or Leave It? America Can’t Make Up Its Mind

A multi-storied red brick high rise from an earlier era
The new Democrat administration is proposing to broaden American infrastructure to include public housing. With such an act, is the country accepting that public housing is an essential public service, of a kin with road building and garbage collection? If so, then why doesn't the...

Eviction Bans Help The Whole Community To Control COVID Infection

the entire contents of an apartment spread futon a street
A Federal Court judge has ruled against landlords who fought an eviction ban in Philadelphia. The landlords maintained that the ban was unconstitutional because it conferred a benefit only to tenants at risk of eviction. The judge found that the eviction ban benefited the...

COVID’s Economic Effects Come Home To Roost

A tent city with many different coloured tents crowded close together
Across Canada, we're somewhat envious of the Maritime provinces, which have managed to keep their COVID infection numbers to a minimum. However, COVID's economic effects are definitely being felt in Halifax, Nova Scotia where housing prices (ownership and rental) have grown significantlyThe polling firm Angus...

Vancouver, B.C. As A Public Landlord: One Hat in a Two-Hatted City?

A 1045 fog obscured photo of a old ocean liner-type vessel being towed out of the industrial gloom of False Creek
The City of Vancouver, BC has, as a responsible landlord, found itself going head to head with the authority tasked with extracting the most profitable solutions for the development of resources. That authority is . . . Vancouver, B.C. This two-hatted, conflicting set of responsibilities...

“Big Tent” US Infrastructure Proposals: Catching Up With Modern Reality?

A group of 4 Black Youth, pose on their bright red delivery bikes.
For the past few decades in America, "small government" policies have been supported by both Democrats and Republicans. In particular, the name of the game has been to shrink what the government invests in, leave as much as possible to the blessings(?) of free...

UK Child’s Play: Post-Pandemic Back-To-Basics When The Basics Aren’t There

A single autumn leaf sits on a swing seat above an uncleared litter of dead leaves
The budget fallout from the extraordinary costs of the COVID-19 pandemic are already being felt in the United Kingdom. Restrictions of the pandemic have fallen heavily on everyone, particularly those families that are fortunate to retain jobs and have handfuls of children to constrain and...

Repairing US Existing Public Housing: A Pact With A Toothless Devil?

Old italian woodcut showing a group of citizens making a pact with the devil
Recently, America has been forced to confront two inconvenient truths that have nullified each other. First, it needs public housing — not to house all citizens, but at least to house Americans with very low incomes who cannot find housing on the free market. The...

Building Kinship To End Homelessness: Reaching Out Through Art

A wall painting of a painter who has written in paint 'follow your dreams' and a cancelled sign overlaps the words
This post is part of a series about ways that people provide support to those who experience homelessness. The idea that "we treat everyone as kin" resonates through the posts in this series. Finding more and more ways to treat everyone as kin could...

New York City Requires Housing Broadband: Spirit Willing, But Flesh is Weak

A bundle of glass fibres carry light to the fibre end, each of which appears as a tiny bright spot
Recent good news for rural America: billions of federal dollars have been promised to provide high speed broadband internet access that is currently as spotty as the rural housing that is in need of it. And now, in America's largest city, encouraging regulations that will...

Building Kinship To End Homelessness: Connecting Through Archeology

Two figures hunched over the ground consider small objects in the hand one of them
This post is part of a series about ways that people provide support to those who experience homelessness. The idea that "we treat everyone as kin" resonates through the posts in this series. Finding more and more ways to treat everyone as kin could...

Is Your Lived Experience Valuable But Ignored? Convert It To “Lived Data”

A line of red double decker busses, 10 or moe stretch out of sight on a city street
For many who hope to influence how governments and other institutions provide their services, the term "lived experience" is gaining prominence as a means of determining just what kind, location, and quality of service is needed. For example, lived experience, it is argued, can help...

Building Kinship To End Homelessness: Connection Rooted In Faith

Rotary club members serve food to a waiting queue
This week, affordablehousingaction.org initiates a series of posts about projects where people provide support to those people who experience homelessness. The inspiration for this series draws from an indigenous definition of homelessnessThe definition was crafted by Jessie Thistle, during his research studies at York University...

Homelessness & Emerging Techno-Sin: The Techno-Devil Made Me Do It

door barricaded with boards
Dispensation is apparently no longer available in a world where technology is the new religion. In Ontario, Canada very recently, the techno-priesthood was half querulous, half scolding as it lowered the minimum age for receiving COVID-19 vaccine from 75 to 70. It seems that the...

Irish Plan To Implement Compassionate, Orderly, Permanent Refugee Reception

A group of Irish of all ages carry signs supporting refugees
Global political upheavals have produced steady streams of asylum seekers and refugees hammering at the gates of wealthier countries. There is ample reason to believe these upheavals will continue. That in turn suggests national planning is needed to best serve this unfortunate flood of humanity. Easier...

San Diego Works To Develop A Homeless “Bill of Rights”

A homeless man in a wheelchair holds a sign beside a street crowded by pedestrians. The sign says, 'Bet you a dollar you'll read this.
Bill of Rights? Well, San Diego's mayor is actually calling this by a far more mundane phrase: policy changes. But reading down the list, many or most of which have already been implemented, it's possible to capture a sense of history. The list was "developed...

Post-Construction “Community Preference:” Right to Return Home? Or Racial Exclusion?

two older redbrick two story rows of townhouses
When it comes to American neighbourhood housing development, what does the term "community preference" mean? It's a policy that might be required by some level of government, or put in place voluntarily by a housing developer. The idea is that those who previously lived in...

Is Vancouver City Council Proposing To Dabble In Racist, Segregated Housing?

Aboriginal faces an a traditional drum before a microphone outdoors
A belated recognition of urban aboriginal needs? Or a dismaying state-supported adventure in racist and economic apartheid? Vancouver, BC's city council has approval a First Nations construction project slated for the downtown. On one hand it stands as a long overdue recognition that shelter, social...

England: Social Rent Housing Deserves A Better Rep

exterior of four council homes
“Hey! Did you know that social tenants in England have lower mental health scores than private tenants and home owners?” “That’s really not surprising. Considering the amount of hype around the virtues of home ownership. If I were a social renter, I’d be bummed out...

Oopsy, Homeless: Covid Frontline Workers Give The Lie To Meritocracy

A Black frontline worker inoculates an older white woman in a wheelchair
Lurking in the depths of conservative thought, the idea of a meritocracy is never far from the surface, at the very least as a convenient excuse for inaction. Merit-based thinking accompanies the current, if somewhat shopworn, brand of conservatism called neoliberalism. In a meritocracy, there...

In The Quicksand Of Housing Activism, Shared History Offers A Solid Footing

A crane towers over a new building rising beside a busy street
Looking towards a better future, why begin with a lengthy story of past failure? The question seems especially pertinent when no official record has been struck to carve the woeful mistakes of the past in stone. Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani, an artist and urban scholar, was asked...

Does COVID Spur Unexpected Partnerships?

Multi storey stately brick building, headquarters of Aetna Insurance
In the United States, local community development agencies and large health care organizations have been teaming up to improve health outcomes for people living in disadvantaged communities. COVID has been a challenging time for both groups. Community development agencies support people who are more likely...

Canadian Arctic Housing: Cozy On The Outside. Now Have A Look Inside

Looking from a slightly higher elevation over snowbound houses to the arctic sea beyond
In the fall of 2020, Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, the Member of Parliament for Canada's far north, visited eight communities. Her purpose: to see the housing conditions of her constituents.For an account of this tour, try: Housing Conditions In Canada's Far North: Bad Enough To Make...

Why Canada And New Zealand (At Least) Need Public Housing For All

attached two storey house in Toronto
Imagine! A gambling chip you can plonk down on the casino table that is no gamble at all. Guaranteed to make money! Canada is close to perfecting that chip, with the government providing the guarantee. It's called housing. The commodification of housing in Canada is rapidly moving...

Do Public Housing Tenants Really Need Continous Ass-Kicking On Their Way Out The Door?

In the foreground the hat and shoulder of a drill sergeant. Out of focus in the background are a group of marine recruits
Just recently, we published a post questioning the (very old) wisdom of "up and out" policies, which impose work requirements on people who are living in public housing, with the goal of moving them out. The policies are vocally supported by the new U.S....

Public Housing And Proud Of It? You Can Shout NIMBY, Too

A crowded anti demolitin protest featuring hand drawn signs and a majority of black faces
NIMBY is an enduring feature of proposals that bring "undesirable elements" into some form of contact with established neighbourhoods, usually ones that are at least firmly middle class. Manning the battlements, long-standing residents find many reasons to protest the possible incursion of undesirable change....

London, Ontario Looks To Expand Its Residential Licensing Program

exterior view of balconies in poor repair
London, Ontario currently licenses student accommodation and smaller private rental buildings. The City's Council recently debated whether to expand its licensing system to include rental apartments and townhouses. The idea was referred to staff for further consideration. Local governments in Ontario are responsible for enforcing...

Making Private Market Housing Sustainable For Tenants With Low Incomes

High Rise buildings in a Toronto neighbourhood
The Wellesley Institute is a champion for the social determinants of health in Canada. The Institute has focused considerable attention on the link between housing and health. One example is the Healthy Housing Quality initiative. The initiative aims to improve the overall quality of...

Activists: EU Must Pursue Green Building Solutions Without Creating More Homeless

apartment topped with a green roof
Homelessness in the EU has increased dramatically over the past ten years. The numbers are expected to rise as post-pandemic evictions put those out on the streets who have lost income and cannot afford the rent. Meanwhile, EU "Green" Planners are eyeing requirements for more...

A Missed Opportunity For Hotels To Prevent The Spread Of COVID

exterior of hotel in Manchester, England
Vicky Spratt, writing in i, argues hotels were a missed opportunity to prevent the spread of COVID in England. She draws on research by Rebecca Tunstall at York University in England and government data sources to make her case. Hotels provided safe isolation spaces for...

Unattainable Housing “Affordability” Definitions No Hope For Aging AU Women

An older white woman, a wisp of hair across her face gives a small, kindly smile to the camera
What's in an affordable housing definition? Developers happily slice and dice the housing market into "affordability" segments. If they're clever enough, they may even attract government subsidies. Both government and developer can then claim the credit for providing "affordable" housing. How affordable? For example, consider...

UK Gets Personal To House And Treat People With Addictions/Other Health Issues

Who knows best about suitable treatments for someone with addiction and/or health issues? Why, the individual with the problems, of course! Well, maybe that person doesn't exactly know BEST, otherwise a lot of mental health professionals would be out of their jobs. But it's undeniable...

Elder Housing: Can Singapore Try For Something More Than Homage To Aging Frailty?

A closeup of 2 older women with oriental features watching a television that is not in picture
Singapore is a world-famous success at creating high quality, affordable public housing for all, not just the poor. Its principal focus from the beginning has centred around families, given the importance of that institution and to the mix of cultures that reside in this...

Even Without A Grand Master Rapper, New Orleans Shows Food Deserts Can Be Beaten

A big, practically empty parking lot stretches in front of a suburban supermarket
A modern view of old fashioned, much neglected, American public housing: push it into the trash. But there's a growing recognition that for all the hype for complicated government/free enterprise partnerships, year after year, they fail to deliver housing in the volume needed to deal...

Pandemic Response By New York School System Pioneers Community Food Outreach

green bronx machine display
In England this past pandemic year, there was for a time an extraordinary reluctance by the government to extend traditional school meal service during closures. This in spite of plentiful evidence that families with low incomes were struggling to both pay the rent and...

Public Housing, “Reverence For Pre-Existing Structures” Captures Architecture’s Top Prize

refurbished apartment building with street sign reading Rue Andrée Putman
World-wide, it might seem that there are few opportunities to bring meaningful architectural design to the budget constraints of public housing construction. Certainly this lament can often be found in architectural journals, even when celebrating a recent and fulfilling design opportunity.Here's a recent example...

Benefits And Challenges of Green Social Housing As Low Income Security For UK

With housing firmly established as suitable gambling chip in the world's stock markets, it is becoming increasingly difficult for those with lower incomes to even rent it, let alone imagining its purchase. Increasingly, more and more housing needs to be deliberately removed from the roller-coaster...

Huntingdon, UK Reveals The Spirit of True YIMBY: Yes In My Back Yard!

Huntingdon street mall
NIMBY — Not In MY Back Yard — has become a common term for the seemingly inevitable push back by neighbourhoods against any influx of housing and housing agencies that support "undesirables" — people experiencing homelessness, as well as households with very low and...

Can Vertical Forest Splash Save Netherlands Social Housing Cash?

There can be little argument that Milan's pioneering "Vertical Forest" building is a striking feat of architecture.Or rather, it will become one at some time in the future. Built in 2007, twelve years later a 2019 a photo of the building with its young...
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