Monthly Archives: July 2021

Ireland Subsidizes Middle Class Renters Away From Free Market

street in Balbriggan, Ireland
It is certainly hard these days, indeed increasingly impossible, for those with the lowest or no incomes to afford housing at all. Government subsidized housing, under many names such as "public," "social," "state," and "council," are wait-listed delirium dreams, years or decades away —...

Can Investor-Owned Empty Homes Solve A Toronto Housing Crisis?

Vancouver, B.C., is pretty consistently in the top two of the World's most expensive places to live. The reasons for its high housing costs are many. One significant problem area: Vancouver is a lure for off-shore investors who speculate in the housing market. With affordable...

Modern Marie Antoinette’s Poor Housing Tenants: Let Them Eat E-Bikes!

An bike propped against a garage door. Only a thickened section of frame distinguishes it from a regular bike.
People should only get what they deserve. This "survival of the fittest" mantra has dominated neo-liberal thinking for several decades. It pervades the policies of America's Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). A new progressive-backed Democrat Administration yet shows little sign of changing those...

Housing: Mind Your Own Business, Or . . . Everyone’s Infrastructure?

stamp with image of fist on one side of a door and a hand on the other side holding the door shut
Infrastructure? The notion was born out of not-to-be-ignored community health needs such as clean water to prevent epidemics. It expanded to include business needs (safe highways to transport goods widely). As time went by, infrastructure further expanded to include both health needs and business...

What is RAD? Is It A Brave New Future For American Public Housing?

A large public housing project has a sign superimposed over it saying "Under New Management"
The U.S. Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program is a hopeful attempt to combine a failing national housing voucher program with the profound failure of American public housing management and upkeep by non-profit housing authorities. The project was to conceived to pass off to profit-oriented private...

Montreal’s “Musical Chair” Rental Homes Tell Homelessness Like It Is

1938 picture shows two men hauling a cart go home furniture over a curb
Canada's second largest city, Montréal, has some features rare to the North American continent. Besides its Francophone culture, it is a city dominated by renters. And, truly unique among North American cities with large rental populations, a big portion of its rental population sign...

Home Based Public Housing Job Training By Torch Light

Shadowy figures in welding masks cluster around a brilliant flame from a welding torch
Hard to imagine benefits from a pandemic. But in the field of education, the reality of structured formal training at home have suggested new horizons for educational opportunity. Home schooling has a long tradition of proving that, for whatever the reasons, formal education can take...

Internet Inequality: Ugly Redlining Defines American Have-Nots

A room containing computer equipment. On the screen a 'slow' sign. Beyond the window, a red ribbon reads 'High Speed Internet Beyond Here
In America during the last century, bank lending practices discriminated against poor neighbourhoods, often predominantly black. The process became known as "redlining." The term comes from insurance maps where red lines identified selected neighbourhoods as "no-go" zones for mortgage lending and insurance. America has always...

Sacramento Flirts With Notion Of “Mandated” Housing For Homeless

A home which is a primitive shack with a tin roof.
The film Field of Dreams featured a famous prediction: "If you build it, they will come," referring to an unlikely baseball stadium in a rural American cornfield. The Mayor of Sacramento, California has a new, related concept in order to house California's growing numbers of...

Will Buffalo, N.Y. Find Its Next Mayor Under Its Bed?

A smiling character of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders
Under the bed? You know. That uniquely American hangout of Reds, Commies, Socialists, Cold War Boogymen, World Domination Ambitions, Nuclear Holocaust Dreams, Back Garden Bomb Shelters. And Bernie Sanders. Having (accidentally?) nominated a died-in-the-wool socialist as the democratic candidate for mayor of their city, citizens of...

A Price Of Mixed Income Neighbourhoods: Soulless Density

A wall of tall high-rises stretches across the picture frame, no ground or sky in sight
What's a budget-conscious local government council to do? Spending on social housing is to be avoided at all costs, even when the locality already owns the land. It's too expensive when nobody shares the costs. But the private housing developers sector WILL throw dollars into...

Stand And Deliver, Landlord! Berlin is Considering Legal Highway Robbery

An early 20th century line illustration depicting a highway man on a horse, halting a stagecoach
Berlin, Germany is a city/state of many renters, ever-rising rents, and few means for renters to challenge the economic self-interests of landlords. Years of protests about increasingly unaffordable rents across the entire city/state finally led to the Berlin government adopting a rent control law —...

How Government Landlords Can Trash The Value Of Co-op Housing

Yellow stucco walls and a red roof peek over a high green hedge.
Housing Co-ops are a tried and true means of creating affordable housing and shielding that affordability by keeping the enterprise away from the free market. Co-ops can protect both rents as well as ownership of units. The protection from the market has been an attraction...

A Legal Centre That Enables Land Trusts And Co-operative Housing

A sign extolls the affordability of student coop housing
Sprinkled across the western world there are housing cooperatives, community land trusts, and other forms of collective ownership and decision making. Elsewhere, we've discussed some of the benefits of these approaches which include: reducing housing costs, sharing risk, and providing non-market housingTry: Housing Co-Operatives:...

What Do London, UK & Kugluktuk, Nunavut, Canada Have In Common?

view of Kugluktuk, under snow, from the air
Besides a rather large number of things the two locations do not share, one they do is local councils prepared to risk human lives by tinkering with building codes in order to save money. In London, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea approved cladding...

U.S. Social Insurance: Where That Octopus Might Touch You

A young woman looks doubtfully at knitted octopus perched on her shoulder
If you're not American, the country's social insurance complex of programs will most likely not touch you at all. But this post, and the following article/report from the Brookings Institute, may provide a useful reference framework from which to explore other national social insurance safety...

200 Car Headlights Shining In Your Bedroom Window: Blessing? Or Curse?

A forbidding prison building painted orange by bright floodlights
Surveillance is a touchy subject in neighbourhoods where a majority of citizens have good reason to believe they are the victims of prejudice. On the other hand, home security is a benefit that everyone appreciates. So the 2014 test-case installation of floodlights in 12 New York...

Strengthening Public Housing Community With Cooking

An 18th century rendition of four clowns cooking over a wood fire
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...

The U.S. Housing Crisis: Democrat Rot? Republican Rot? Both!

Conservative rot, or Labour rot in the U.K.? Conservative rot or Liberal rot in Canada? And so on. The question bears repeating with a change of political party names in British-influenced governments around the world. ALL these major centrist parties have been influenced by the...

Social Housing “Asset Recycling”: Privatization In Thin Disguise

There has been a hopeful inclusion of new kinds of "infrastructure" in Democratic proposals to shore up 21st century necessities. Beyond 19th and 20th century physical requirements for a healthy and vibrant society (clean water, electricity grids, highways, etc.), American federal lawmakers are considering...

Housing For All: Have We Abandoned The Will To Plan Utopia?

A row of older, well kept english red brick cottages line a road
In a dog eat dog housing world, those who can afford housing compete in a low-choice social universe that offers the suburban dream home sprawl versus gentrified shoe box living. Those who can't afford to compete get pushed towards the leftovers, whatever they are,...

“NUMBY” Politicians Too Quick to Hear NIMBY?

sign with the word welcome in multiple languages
If there's anything that everyone agrees upon, it's the inevitability of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard). When the issue of new housing in a neighbourhood arises, almost nothing satisfies those activists who would mount the battlements and defend the neighbourhood from the horrors...

New Housing Next Door: Does It Kill Me or Cure Me?

a new building under construction is a latticework of black set against an orange sunset
Housing owners are rightfully concerned about how neighbourhood changes will influence what is probably their greatest investment — their home. Housing renters also have an indirect concern. If the landlord's fortunes change because of neighbourhood change, will it impact my rent? With pressure on cities...

Understanding Racial and Spatial Inequity In The Housing Market

boarded up two storey house, which has been damaged by fire
The Urban Institute has just released Who Owns The Twin Cities, which analyzes residential ownership patterns in Minnesota's Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul). These communities have the largest black-white ownership gap in the U.S. The researchers sought to understand what has contributed to...

Can Lackadaisical California Fix Homelessness Without New Housing?

Across a residential street a half-finished bungalow is all chipboard panels and exposed timber studs
Why is California's lackadaisical approach to homelessness worth a worry to other jurisdictions as well as its own? Many other cities in North American and elsewhere have bumbled into the same haphazard approach as California has, and can well examine that state's particular problems with...

County Level Data Available To Help U.S. Decision Makers

Data geeks have something really special to celebrate in the link attached to this post. Researchers at the Urban Institute in the U.S. have gathered, organized and published a massive amount of data about racial equity, housing precarity and COVID vulnerability.  The first point of...

Strengthening Community: Getting Vaccinations To People Who Might Miss Out

A young adult takes a vaccination with a big grimace
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...

Canadian Initiatives To End Youth Homelessness Earn UN Recognition

young people talking and problem solving
The United Nations Economic Commission For Europe (UNECE) has just recognized the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness as a Centre of Excellence on Youth HomelessnessBoth Canada and the United States are members, notwithstanding the "Europe" in the organization's name. You can read more about what...

Mapping A Route To End Domestic Violence In Canada

In front of a red sunset a fantasy fist rises from the sea clutching a human body
When you're tackling something as complex as domestic and gender-based violence, it's helpful to have a roadmap. Women's Shelters Canada and others have just completed a Roadmap for the Nation Action Plan in Canada. Ideas about domestic and gender-based violence have evolved considerably since the first...

Violence and Home

a giant rust coloured concrete fist sits knuckles down in a trash filled alleyway
The stay at home orders, which were a key strategy to managing COVID 19, drew widespread attention to the violence that occurs at home. This post discusses who is affected by violence at home (COVID or no) and some of the effects. These days, the...

“Ambulance Chasing” Lawyers Turn From Whiplash to Social Housing

An upside down car on a city street draws onlookers
"Ambulance chasers" is a derogatory term referring to opportunistic lawyers who see an opportunity to earn a fee from an accident situation that was in some way preventable and may give rise to a law suit. And just who thinks these lawyers are worthy of...

Why At Times We’re Only Comfortable Looking At Our Blog Name In The Mirror

An incomprehensible mirror image of affordable housingaction.org's logo
Why the mirror? 'Cause the name don't make no practical sense no more. Like a chicken sitting on a square egg, affordablehousingaction.org has been cackling uncomfortably about "affordable housing" for some time now. With our choice of a forward-looking blog name, we kind of committed...

Kansas City Flops A Flap — Urgent Clearing of A Homeless Tent “City”

A series of homeless tents line a sidewalk
Is there an important lesson for all to be learned from precipitously "evicting" a homeless encampment? For Kansas City Council, together with its citizenry, it might be: slightly more pre-planning needs to be applied in order to dumpsterize and sanitize a "former" (until next...

Domestic Violence? Got To Leave NOW! How About A Sleeper Bus?

mobile health bus
Library Buses, Street Outreach Buses, Food Bank Buses, Disaster Displacement Recovery Buses: mobile social services has a long and distinguished career of providing low budget, temporary relief for human crises as trivial as "I've got nothing to read!" to as serious as "Where do...

Perping Toms: How Architects Play Peekaboo With Criminals

trees set out for planting beside a sidewalk
Sep-ted? That's how it's pronounced. That's the best we can do with CPTED — Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. Is CPTED some clever new way of viewing crime-vulnerable neighbourhoods? Hardly. The following article records CPTED design and execution in the year 1285 by English King...

Tenants Tickled Pink By The Privatization Of NYCHA? Not So Much

After decades of neglect, tenants of New York City's social housing have a pretty good idea of who to blame for the relentless dilapidation of their homes and lives. The culprit is the city itself, together with its arm's-length non-profit housing authority (NYCHA). It would...

Public or Private landlords: Which Do Rental Housing Most Efficiently?

sktech of helicopter dropping bundles of money
An article in Sydney, Australia turns conventional wisdom upside down to consider where Australian governments might look to best support housing for tenants. In doing so, the article overturns some knee-jerk assumptions about just what kind of rental housing is most efficiently managed and can...

ITV In UK Catches Too Many Social Housers With Their Pants Down

black puff balls on slender black stalks
When it comes to enduring poverty in disgusting, dangerous, unhealthy conditions, grovelling apologies to sufferers don't quite cut it. But at the moment in England, that's what's being served up, thanks to an itvNEWS investigation into living conditions in social housing. Gosh, the National Housing...

Public Housing: A Cause for Optimism, Not Pessimism?

traffic signals and pedestrian crossing
All of us on planet earth are johnny-come-latelys to our own genetic makeup, forged over thousands of years of bare subsistence, scratching a living where we can. Not surprising, then, that we're by and large an optimistic bunch. What, then, are we to make of...

Better Public Housing: And You Thought NGOs Were The Good Guys

public housing in spain
Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) are by and large created as non-profit organizations. That means they can balance a public housing project's books but are constrained from channelling a nice little profit into their own pockets. And NGOs are not inbred relatives of city and regional councils,...

Toronto Filmmaker Captures Homelessness As Lives Lived

When filmmaker and Photographer Jason Cipparrone encountered his city's poverty in a long lineup at Toronto food bank, it was a new experience for him. Cipparrone was struck by the variety of people and their different stories of homelessness. He felt that he could...

Homekey Struggles to Overcome Homelessness AND Public Perception

bungalow style motor hotel
As California's Homekey program is well aware, fighting homelessness is a three-pronged battle. Like an iceberg, the bulk of homelessness lies beneath the surface, invisible to the public. Addressing homelessness in the state means tackling a mass of couch surfers and semi-permanent shelter dwellers. And...

Hats Off For Medicine Hat, Canada

Medicine Hat is the first community in Canada to officially end chronic homelessness. The city is part of Built For Zero Canada, a national initiative to end homelessness. Asked to comment on this achievement, Jaime Rogers from the Medicine Hat Community Housing Society said,...

Homelessness: What Is Functional Zero, And Why Does It Matter?

The idea of getting homelessness down to zero might seem like an impossibility, but communities across Canada and the U.S. are working away at it. In fact, Medicine Hat, Canada recently reported reaching zero for a second time. What's the difference? This time, they've...
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