Monthly Archives: August 2021

Was The American Dream After All A Second Class Utopia?

abandoned manor house
The American Dream as it is generally imagined is still principally a land of tiny castles on barely larger kingdoms, with notional moats nothing more than grassy drainage ditches that line winding suburban streets. But today, that dream is no longer fixed upon the...

Up In Smoke: Current Fate of UK Proposals For Cannabis Construction

hempcrete construction blocks
Insulation? It doesn't have to be a manufactured product. It can be grown. Seaweed insulation made from shallow water eel grass once provided an excellent quality of insulation, gathered by raking it up from the strand line on ocean beachesTry: Whatever Happened To Eel...

Sacramento’s Clever Plan To Control Homeless Tent Camps: Own Them

a floodlit stately building at twilight
One unexpected benefit that all-too-briefly appeared during the COVID pandemic was the level of concern from national governments down to local ones for the plight of people who experience homelessness, who had no place to shelter from the disease. This led everywhere to various measures...

UK Brick Arch Bridge A Framework For Housing The Homeless

Beside a path running under a bridge over a river, homeless shelters and belongings are crammed
Leaving aside weak Canadian punsSorry, the compulsion is irresistible: "Iron Road" was the title of a film about building a railway across the Canadian Rocky Mountains in the 1880's, there's plenty of irony to go around in a Manchester charity-driven project to build a...

Strengthening Community One Haircut At A Time

head and shoulders picture from behind of a head of tangled black hair
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...

When Governments Sanction Theft From Their Homeless Citizens

a collection of tents shelter beneath leafless trees in a mud-floored park era
It should be pointed out from the start that ownership of worthless, or near worthless "things" is not an exclusive preserve of the homeless. Anyone who has experienced selling off the estate of a relative will have encountered the shock of how little can...

Ideas To Make Canada’s Housing Market More Affordable For People With Very Low Incomes

A small pink cottage with a fairy take curve to its roof
A year in to the COVID-19 emergency, the Maytree FoundationHere's how Maytree describes itself: "Maytree is committed to advancing systemic solutions to poverty and strengthening civic communities. We believe the most enduring way to fix the systems that create poverty is to ensure that...

Faults In Canada’s Housing System: Renovictions

The interior of a room stripped to its wooden studs and ceiling beams
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) has just published research about renovictions in TorontoRenovictions refer to evictions that are initiated because extensive renovations are planned or a building is to be demolished.. The researchers, Christopher Zakher and Jordan Nanowski, draw on existing data over...

Want To Lower Crime Rates? Fix Up Housing

a staircase wooden structure form series of steps that will be filled with concrete to create access to a concrete porch.
The City of Philadelphia began providing funding for low income homeowners to make basic system repairs to their housing in 1995. Now, research from the University of Pennsylvania demonstrates that this funding helps more than the homeowners: it benefits the neighbourhood, too. The researchers compared...

Toronto Tries To Dignify Kicking Homeless Ass And Taking Names

tents in a toronto field of yellow grass flecked with snow.
Nothing but tatters remain of whatever modest humanitarian reputation Toronto has earned so far in its treatment of the homeless during the COVID pandemic. The cause: recent police-led California-style tent city takedowns in local parks for the apparently criminal behaviour of attempting to survive...

Bunkabins: What Idiot Let That Idea Fly Unchanged?

A pre-teen boy stands with some nonchalance in trash bin. the lid balanced on his head
Sure, we get it. "Bunk" and "Cabin." Put them together and you've got cute little Bunkabins, small, private, inexpensive shelters for people who are homeless. But we're talking the United Kingdom here, not North America, where bins are mostly immortalized by that "20 questions" query:...

Homelessness As An Epidemic With A Computer-Predictable Course

A show jumper in classic riding gear guides his horse over a jump supported by little rooftops
Virtually all nations are still struggling with attempting to chart the rise and fall of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has produced an unprecedented display of graphic peaks and valleys. Experts, who are working with still uncertain knowledge, attempt to predict the future course of...

Exercises in Public Housing Futility: Australian List Fiddling

a romantic style painting showing a lounging god, apollo, at the end of a question of apparently awestruck swans
Lineups to nowhere? Are they a sick joke? The "West" not long ago found reason to mock lineups in the "East" a.k.a. the Soviet Bloc. And fair enough, the East made jokes about them, too. Such as, "If you see a really long lineup,...

A Traditional Response To Homelessness In An Age Of Internet Influencers

Upwards of a hundred men and woman pose in front of the framework of a barn
A modern, successful community? It is one led by a glossy, stylish eye-twinkler, sometimes with pouty lips, sometimes without. The community numbers in the thousands, tens of thousands, or even more, who hang out virtually upon the internet to inhale the "influence" of the...

HUD To Choose Safety Of Investors Over Public Housing Tenants

wall mounted fire extinguisher
Not all that long ago, private landlords were to be the new caretakers of America's low and no income residents who could not survive in the free rental housing market. "Section 8" vouchers were to be the financing that would grease the palms of...

Growing Non-Market Housing Programs With An Eye On Equity

Head shot Shirley Sherrod
Advocates and community organizations are calling attention to inequities in the housing market in the United States. The burden of COVID-19 (who gets sick, who has to go to work, and who has lost hours and/or jobs) has fallen more on the shoulders of...

Renter Inequality: Not That We Have Anything Against Democracy, But . . .

storey and a half home exterios
In the face of a report from a Canada-B.C. expert panel on housing affordability, here are some clues why grassroots democracy has difficulty addressing the province's, the nation's and the world's current housing crisis. At the heart of the global crisis are renters. It is...

Waiting For A Canadian Indigenous Housing Strategy . . . And Waiting

exterior shot of first nations housing in British Columbia
Compared with their numbers in the community, Indigenous people are consistently over-represented in the point-in-time counts that help monitor progress on ending homelessness. The lack of adequate housing is undoubtedly a contributing factor: available data about housing among Indigenous people in Canada documents stress...

Grand Theft Auto: Authorities Steal Mobile Shelter & Job Access

vehicles being towed to impound lot
It is disheartening to watch local governments warily circling an imagined threat like a dog sizing up an opponent, then pounce suddenly and brutally. This is particularly true when the "opponent" is one or more of a community's most distressed citizens. So it has been...

California Legislates To Support Land Trusts

California State Senate Chamber, with bright red carpet
A story from Next City reports on two pieces of legislation recently passed in California. They are intended to assist community based non-profit agencies buy housing. The first requires homes to be sold one at a time and allows up to 45 days to...

Ending Homelessness Two (Or More) Ways: Canucks Vote Now

Canada's Parliament building with "Canada Election 2021" superimposed
As Canada sails into a snap election, a move approved only by a quarter of the populationRead at CTV News: Just 26 per cent of Canadians support a federal election in the fall, Nanos poll suggests, there are hopes that Canada's housing problems will...

Retired On Minimum Income? Barcelona Tries To Make It A Good Life

social housing building opposite a market in Barcelona
From a North American perspective, which affordablehousingaction.org shares in Canada with our noisy neighbour to the south, discussions about the future of public housing trend towards the awful. Inevitably, it seems, everything is falling down in a sewer of crime, poisoning people physically and...

Banks Backed Foreign Students To Inflate Canada’s Housing Costs Forever

A University of UBC Women's volleyball team fight to get the ball over the net as a student audience watches in background
Superficially at least, Canadians are justified in their pride of their banking system. Following the 2008 mortgage meltdown, as American banks were collapsing everywhere under the weight of their housing investment follies, Canada's big banks sailed serenely on, weathering the storm with ease. But just...

Affordable Housing Details You Might Not Have Considered: Period Products

female students in lab class
Affordable housing is not just a collection of construction material and land costs. It’s a purse that must stretch to cover a rental or purchase . . . after any and all other essential costs have been plucked out. Food and utility costs are...

Strengthening Community With A Taste Of Fulfilling Employment

A helmeted trainee hovers in a harness a few feet off the ground in a forest
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...

Poor Grades For UK Machine “Intelligence” Serving Council Needs

back of a computer
It seems a reasonable enough question: can some form of computer program be designed to serve, say social housing residents, better and more fairly than humans? Recently, the United Kingdom government published a White PaperTry: UK Social Landlords: How May I Love Thee? Let Me...

Own A Set Of Metric Drill Bits? No? Hang Your Head, Social Housers

Drill bits
At the turn of the 20th century, what sane middle or lower class person would want to own a house? It was a time before Mr. Fixit-ness, before battery operated drills, staple guns, plastic sewer piping, pre-pasted wallpaper — all the fiddly bits of...

The Future Of Non-Market Housing: Charitable Foundations Need To Look In The Mirror

photographer reflected in a mirror in a house
In the industrial revolution in England, housing conditions in big cities went from bad to worse. Crowding and disease were rampant and whole sections of cities were considered off limits to genteel folk. Some women's groups in the country called for reforms that would improve...

Scotland Steps Up On Social Rent Housing

construction site
The Scottish Government has issued a 20 year housing policy. This time frame, which extends well beyond typical election cycles, is unusual in itself. The document states unequivocally that the frame is necessary because it simply takes time to assemble the necessary elements (financing,...

Union-Built Housing? Vancouver Baby-Steps Towards A Nordic Solution

exterior of large apartment building in Sweden
In North America, particularly the U.S., unions have suffered badly as "small" governments, no longer neutral arbiters, have promoted excessively friendly partnerships with business to achieve social objectives. At the same time, union members, even while gainfully employed, are suffering along with all of the...

Social Housing: You Are Where You Park, So Make That Park Yours

hikers of all ages
Energy efficiency is not the only important green future for us all. We should also look to health benefits of biophillia. Biophillia is a fancy word to describe the positive impact that nature and green space have upon human well-being. The notion itself is nothing...

The Green Challenge For Social Housing Apartments (And Others)

gas cooking stove
What do you think of the changes that will need to happen to your apartment by 2030, whether social housing or free market housing? If you are roughly 79,999th on the City of Toronto's 80,000-household ten-years+ waiting list for public housing, you probably don't think...

Domestic Violence Costs Australia: Social Housing Can Help

Rugby players with message "stop violence against women"
Equity Economics, a research consultancy that supports the non-profit sector in Australia, has just issued a report that recommends adding 16,800 units to the country's social housing stock. The homes are intended for families fleeing domestic violenceThe report would be music to the ears...

In-Shelter Lawyer Puts Homeless Legal Help Where It’s Most Needed

exterior picture of homeless shelter
One80 Place is a shelter for people who experience homelessness in Charleston, South Carolina. Unusually for a shelter, it offers on-site legal services. A full time lawyer and paralegal help clients with housing related matters. Some clients are staying at the shelter: others are...

Strengthening Community: Lifting Up Local History

An older Black woman in a simple print dress poses beneath a sign for her medical center
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...

Dublin City Council Flirts With Public Housing For . . . All???

A view of Dublin from the air, individual houses nearly to small to sea, with the Irish Sea on the right of the picture.
In countries that have been dominated by neoliberal thought for the past few decades, social/public Housing has been (and often still is) viewed as a rental dead end in a national housing dream, a failed experiment in social and racial harmony, a castle for...

Missoula, Montana Is Making Permanent A Mobile Mental Health Response Pilot

Roughly one in three people who are chronically homelessChronic homelessness means homelessness lasting for a long time (typically six months) or multiple episodes of homelessness over an extended period (e.g. homeless more than three times in three years). live with mental illness. They are...

Housing & Infrastructure: Big Democrat Cities All Hat And No Cattle?

However strong the several-decade influence of neoliberal "small government" philosophy, major societal needs — e.g. clean water, national road networks, housing for all — have historically been delivered by "big government" action. The Democrat Biden administration has arrived in Washington with just such "big government"...

Naughty Housing Action: One Time Only? No, A Template For Activism

Only a few protestors with signs can be seen in a city street that appears to be shrouded in tear gas
When Moms 4 Housing illegally occupied an Oakland, California company's empty house, many (including affordablehousingaction.org) thought their action was fruitless. No law prevented the company from buying and selling (a.k.a. flipping) housing. No law prevented the company from leaving those houses empty and idle...

Housing Equity: The Potential Of Community Land Trusts

A long line of politicians and officials pose with shovels in front of a patch of dirt
Shelterforce, which supports community development initiatives across the United States, is running a series about community land trusts. The series includes an entry level article that explains what community land trusts are and how they operateSee: Understanding Land Trusts. Community land trusts ought to have a...

Pressing On With An Eviction Diversion Program That Works

A notice of eviction in legalistic terms, posted on a door
Matthew Desmond came to our attention when "Evicted" — his book on the subject — was published in 2016. He's an expert on eviction as well as the destructive impacts it has for people who are evictedFor more on Matthew Desmond's groundbreaking work, try:...

Affordable Housing Details You Might Not Have Considered: Education Bonds

Beneath a poster image of a cute baby are the words "For Baby's Future buy war bonds
Affordable housing is not just a collection of construction material and land costs. It’s a purse that must stretch to cover a rental or purchase . . . after any and all other essential costs have been plucked out. Food and utility costs are...

Kill Housing Codes & ByLaws To Create Affordability? Not Likely.

A detailed article in The Guardian unpacks the issue of relaxing building codes and neighbourhood bylaws in the United Kingdom. Removing this unnecessary "government interference" will allow the private building industry to create a flood of affordable housing. The article is worth a read in any...

To Be, Or Not To Be Housed. A Soliloquy On Eviction And Death

As a house disappears in background, a figure of the grim reaper appears in foreground
What makes a human being healthy, with a long life expectancy? There are as many answers as there are proponents of important influences. Modern medicine (including vaccination) has the biggest lobby touting its importance. But good nutrition and clean water clearly play important —...
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