Monthly Archives: May 2021

T.O. Encampment Sweep: No Home, No Money. All That’s Left Is Love

green space with trees and picnic tables
Given the impending evictions worldwide, the number of people experiencing homelessness may well get far worse before it gets better. Looking on the bright side (a bit of a stretch) there's always the great outdoors, where studies suggest that COVID-19 is tens, hundreds, as...

In Vancouver’s Orwellian Housing World, Affordable Means “Not”

A thicket of shiny new highrise towers crowds a waterfront
Orwellian? Think of the novel 1984. As in: War is Peace! Freedom is Slavery! Now add Vancouver's contribution: Social Housing is Unaffordable Housing! Elsewhere in the world, Social Housing means "truly affordable" housing, where rent is based on tenant income, usually no more than 30%...

Annapolis: Infrastructure Detached From People? Worth Suing Over

Court House in Annapolis Maryland
A government's construction and maintenance of services necessary to the well-being of a national or local population is inherently socialist. In America, though not everywhere else, there's a general consensus that government socialist activity such as road maintenance or garbage collection should be kept...

Recognize Family Homelessness: Systemic, Endemic, And Self-Perpetuating

brand new family homeless centre
So, some individual or family is stuck living on the streets, couch surfing, or making the best of dormitory life in a shelter. What more is there to understand, particularly through the parsing of a bunch of big words, like systemic, endemic, and self-perpetuating? Those...

Building Community During COVID: A Food Story

human chain passing blocks for garden plots
This is part of a series about community. Growing and sustaining a community brings benefits to the participants, provides a means of personal development and builds hope and resilience. It can also smooth the path to build more liveable, life-fulfilling housing for people with...

Vienna Achieves “Mixed Income” Within Public Housing, Not Beside It

view of public housing from a street in Vienna
In North America, as well as many other "westernized" countries, housing developers and government currently argue that "mixed income" is a very desirable social foundation for building strong neighbourhood communities. Apparently, the best way of making these communities happen is to create and build new...

Engaging A Public Housing Community In Redevelopment

sign for community room in three languages
This is part of a series about community. Growing and sustaining a community brings benefits to the participants, provides a means of personal development and builds hope and resilience. It can also smooth the path to build more liveable, life-fulfilling housing for people with...

Housing Safety Nets: Big? Small? Why Not Automatic Self-Adjusting?

Painted in purple on a green concrete wall a sign says: Tough Times? Touch shit
Food, fuel, rent, mortgage payment, transportation, health care — a variety of solid financial necessities make up every household social safety net. For the upper middle classes and above, who can insure their own safety net, a temporary crisis involving one or more of...

Building More Housing By Strengthening Community

team of people carrying a house
Today, affordablehousingaction.org is starting a series about community. We've put a lot of attention on the policy, program, financing, design and construction aspects of housing for people with very low incomes. Why have a series about community at all? And why now? As we scanned...

Wanted: Friendly Robot Surveillance Dog To Invade Public Housing

Portrait of dog with carnation
Does a robodog need a loveable lolling tongue, a welcoming wagging tail? Maybe. Scientific American thinks the New York Police Department got it all wrong with its recent pretenda-puppy parade in the halls of city public housingTry: Robots In NYC Public Housing: “Big Brother Dog Is Watching...

Public Housing Needs Arts At Its Core. Who Knew? (Other Than Artists)

a painting done in the style of a children's painting of colourful high rise buildings on a city waterfront
A Seattle, Washington public housing arts project provides an alternative meaning to "public housing" that has been much neglected in America. That meaning is a focus on "community" rather than "income." In America, public housing long ago drifted away from its Great Depression roots as...

Ontario’s Disastrous COVID Care Home Response: For-Profit Did It Worse

Toronto's iconic City Hall with its two towers shaped like segments of a hollow cylinder
In the great contest over who does housing better, "for-profit" developers and managers compete against government managed construction and maintenance. The referee is . . . one of the above?!?! Oddly enough, that's right, government funding often wins the right to decide. And for the...

Are High Housing Prices Contributing To COVID?

5 young women squeezed onto a couch and grinning at the camera
The burden of COVID-19 illness has fallen particularly hard on people with very low incomes and on visible minorities. Now, research from Toronto suggests that spiralling housing costs could be a contributing factor. In the Toronto area, housing prices (rental and ownership) have grown much...

AU Housing: How Capitalists Used Socialism To Help Workers AND Owners

pencil sketch portrait of Joseph Stalin
Warning: this is a socialist article in a socialist publication. However, gun-shy conservative readers with red-under-the-bed phobia will miss out on historic ways that Australian conservative politics turned housing support for the workers into a win for capitalism. The time: The years immediately following the Great Depression The...

A Vancouver Housing Example: How Government “Hands Off” Doesn’t Work

A seesaw on which a small child sits in a seat at the end, while an adult sits close by the pivot point of the seesaw
There is persistent advocacy in many countries that is fuelled by housing development interests. It can be summed up by the idea of "just build more." In The U.S. there is a rather poorly named movement that reflects  this idea — YIMBY. "Y" for "Yes"...

Philadelphia: Beating The Bushes To Find Landlords Pays Off

streetscape in Philadelphia
After hundreds of calls to landlords, Philadelphia's Office of Homeless Services has been able to put together a housing program to assist people who are homeless to leave the streets. The program, called "Way Home," offers housing that is affordable, as well as supports. The...

Tent Camps: Vancouver City Councillor On Draining Wallpaper Bubble

Trees in spring bud form a canopy over grassy parkland
Vancouver, B.C., one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in, might be expected to have a chronic homelessness problem. And it does. Its visible manifestations — tent encampments — have lately been been focussed on one 400-tent monster in Strathcona...

Building Kinship To End Homelessness: Reaching Out From A Tent

Cabot Square, Montréal. Winter 2020-21 site of an Indigenous-inspired pop-up homeless shelter
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...

In Modern Society, Must Some Dance To Will Of “The Chosen?”

three marionettes
There was an uproar recently when Trumpian provocateurs in the U. S. House of Representatives proposed an American First caucus in order to (among other things) protect the country's unique "Anglo-Saxon" heritage. This triumphal declaration of tailored nativism appears to honour one nation unreasonably, based...

One Bright Idea To Clamp Down On Public Housing Lawbreakers

Two glowing street lamp bulbs illuminate falling rain
Policing in poor neighbourhoods of cities, no matter how large or small, is contentious. Public Housing neighbourhoods are no exception. And public housing tenants, particularly in Black dominated American public housing, can be ambivalent at best about increased police focus on their communities. Here's an example of...

Body Count: Utah Finds Ways To Not Solve Homelessness

Utah's recent 63 million-dollar homeless "resource center" investment doesn't really put a dent in its visible homeless. Some of the reasons why are instructive for everyone. The Salt Lake City region's three shiny new shelters have been successful in some ways. With their built in-supports,...

Building Kinship To End Homelessness: Connecting Through Experience

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...

Evictions? Glory Be Not! COVID Punctures Federal State Self-Congratulation

A colorful marching band, perhaps a hundred strong, in a square formation of a football field surrounded by stands full of fans
How Do I Love Myself? Let Me Count the Ways . . . In Canada, some 13-ish. America goes a full 50-ish. In the United Kingdom, having their cake and eating it, it's either none or a devolved 4-ish. We could go on. We're talking the...

Can New Zealand Fix Multiple Housing Crises By Applying The 4 D’s?

Sweeping green river valley fields in foreground dotted with sheep. Mountains in the background.
Why should anyone except New Zealanders care about New Zealand's ownership housing crisis, its rental housing crisis and its rent-geared-to income (social/public/state housing) crisis? Well, New Zealand's housing history roughly mirrors that of a handful of countries claiming a British heritage, including the U.K. itself, the...

Halfway Houslets For Homeless: A Mashup of Housing First + Support First?

A black and white view of 30 od 40 squarish little sleeping pods spaced out in a field.
A recent article from London, Ontario expresses a problem made more acute in the pandemic. That city is home to a successful program based on getting housed immediately (Housing First), then providing supports. But COVID's exacerbated pressure on permanent housing appeared to leave some...

Germany’s Supreme Court Overturns Berlin Rent Cap

An overhead photo of a crowd of thousands that fills the frame
There are important ideas that have a wide theoretical application to housing, but practical examples can be few and far between. Any single new step forward may be worthy of an enthusiastic examination. The imposition of a rent cap in the city (and state) of...

“Lived Experience” Vital To Solutions To Homelessness. Just Ask.

Looking down a street with a 'Dollarama' sign above a business entrance
The COVID-19 pandemic provides some unexpected examples of the importance of "lived experience" to the practical knowledge that legislators need to craft focused, practical, compassionate rules and legislation to better assist their citizenry. Without awareness to that lived experience, the results can be truly lamentable....

Helping To Target Assistance To Eviction-Threatened Renters

Advocates across the U.S. are calling attention to renters and their financial struggles during COVID. Some renters who are in arrears have been protected by eviction bans, although the threat of eviction is ever-present. As the bans are lifted, without financial assistance to help...

How Middle Class Miami Ran Over Public Housing On The Way Out Of Town

A grey raw concrete highrise more than 50 years old looking pretty smart for public housing
It was an unfortunate traffic accident. The American dream lay affordable and enticing in the suburbs. Middle America could afford cars to pursue it. Nobody gave thought to the lowest paid workers without the cash to leave the city and buy the American dream...

Webinars And Remote Meetings – Getting on with Housing Business When You Can’t Get Together

A stylized outline view sketches faces on a screen participating in a webinar
There is no question that the internet has made it easier for people to stay connected during the COVID pandemic compared, for example, to how it was during the Spanish flu. Then, the telephone was only beginning to be a universal method of communication....

Landlord Unfair: Who’s To Judge? England Believes “Lived Experience” Can Help

water damage has caused a section of ceiling to collapse near a ceiling light
The recent United Kingdom Social Housing White Paper put public housing landlords and their managers on notice. A new era is to be born in which fair tenant concerns must be addressed and remedied wherever appropriate. The rights of tenants to enjoy their housing will...

Truly Affordable Housing As Essential COVID Worker Reward?

Year two of a coronavirus pandemic. The hollow metallic sound of periodic pot banging no longer echos through Toronto city streets. We're apparently not so proud of ourselves any more for our noisy love-ins for essential workers. Besides, our understanding of "essential" has changed. Once...

Robots In NYC Public Housing: “Big Brother Dog Is Watching You”

A silver and black metallic dog with a ball in a similar pattern, beside a smart phone suggesting that it is the control device
The use of a robot surveillance "dog" during a police intervention in New York Public Housing seems to have a human "creepy" value of 100% with complaints flying thick and fast. Let's ignore as unlikely the possibility that robo-dog is not actually a "policeman's best...

Should Private Investment In Public Services Replace Public Spending?

A sleeping white-haired person lies with head on a carry bag, body covered by a sleeping bag.
A recent article in Forbes asked whether value capture could be used to fund intensive case management and other supports as a way to speed up initiatives to end chronic homelessness. See: Addressing Chronic Homelessness Using Value Capture How does value capture work? The mechanics...

Affordable/Council/Public/Social/ State/Community Housing: What’s In A Word Salad?

An incredibly huge and ornate Russian Palace viewed down a long drive to its entrance.
David Park's book "A Fire In the Eye: A Historical Essay On The Nature and Meaning of Light" reviews the ideas, debates and thinking about what light is. Plato used stories. Aristotle preferred something more specific: he sought definitions that always meant the same...

Built For Zero In London, Ontario Meets Temporary COVID Housing

Skaters on an ice rink before a lit pavilion in the background with lit christmas trees. Snowflakes fall.
London, Ontario is one of the first communities to join Built For Zero Canada, a campaign that aims to end chronic and veteran homelessness. Built For Zero follows a prescribed set of steps, monitoring the housing that is coming available and supporting the people who are...

Public Housing Homes As Worker Castles: Way Back When

A quiet courtyard between four story high, elegant off-white buildings
From Liverpool UK, here's a modest little "good news" post about public housing — if you're prepared to head back to the Victorian era in the 19th century for your news. It's a small celebration of what social/public housing was meant to be — good...

A Kansas City Prescription For Rough Sleeper Disease

A useful article in the Kansas City Star explains with insight and compassion why the simple act of putting a chronic rough sleeper into their own home may well do little or nothing to eliminate a particular kind of homelessness. The article is written by...

Khaleel Seivwright Has Hit The Big Time! Who? You Need To Know.

Children in colourful costume carry a tiny child Jesus on a platform
At affordablehousingaction.org we were quite taken with Toronto's Khaleel Seivwright when he hammered his way onto the local homelessness scene. So much so in fact that some might consider our initial coverage of him to be rather over-the-topTry: City of Toronto Helps Homeless-Loving Carpenter...

Building Kinship To End Homelessness: Connecting Through Construction

A team of volunteer builders in hard hats raise a wall frame to a vertical position.
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...
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