Monthly Archives: February 2022

Homeless Lured From Streets By Universal Bad Habits

a liquor bottle labeled Dutch Courage
What can possibly be positive about cigarettes, alcohol and illegal drugs? For starters, though known to be potentially dangerous to human health, they are undeniably effective pit-props that shore up the mental well-being of countless millions of people world-wide. So why not offer them as...

Statutory Public Meetings – A Trial For All Concerned

a public meeting room with the backs of many heads are visible as participants sit on benches listening to a speaker
The following article tells a great story for anyone who has trained as an urban planner, architect or other design professional. It is written by a planner who went sour on public meetings. The problem? The public would talk about traffic, garbage collection and...

Montréal Mini-Shelter Donation? Nope. Just Come As You Are

A recent winter offer to buy and donate mini-shelters to the City of Montréal for protection of the homeless has been turned down. There was no joy in being forced to squelch the intentions of Québec celebrity comedian Mike Ward, however. With at least two...

Boondocking Lifestylers, Meet The Boondocking Homeless

The silhouette of a small camper van against a colourful twilight sky
Boondocking? What is it? Who does it? What has it got to do with homelessness? Some might argue that boondocking is homelessness, or at the very least, rootlessness. In America, it's a spreading lifestyle of choice for those who enjoy travelling the countryside in recreational...

SA Homeless Network Holds ‘Stats SA’ Feet To The Fire

Man using a shopping cart to collect recycling.
Statistics South Africa (Stats SA), like all census organizations, is a passionate advocate for the importance of counting its citizens in as many ways possible. In the words of a deputy director: “The census is not just about the present, it’s about the future....

Evictions The Consequence As Critical Info Fails Rural America

rural scene, wildflowers in foreground, building with porch in background
“We’ve developed a culture where people don’t tend to avail themselves of protections afforded to them.” The comment comes from Brent Thompson, executive director for East River Legal Services, representing low-income residents of eastern South Dakota. Thompson is discussing evictions in rural America. His mandate includes...

‘Groundhog Day’ Again As City Homeless Board Warming Buses

A very ordinary looking modern bus, photographed almost head on
The movie 'Groundhog Day' immortalized a bad-attitude weatherman forced to live the same day over and over again until he learned more humanitarian behaviour. Echos of Groundhog Day could be heard in the remarks of a London, Ontario local shelter director Sarah Campbell. ". ....

How Art Can Make The Case For Social Housing

It can sometimes be pretty frustrating to present evidence and arguments in favour of public funding for social housing. The whole idea is often batted away, or the facts are challenged, or the credibility of the person making the argument is called in to...

A ‘Green’ Opportunity To Make Homes Accessible

Disability rights activists have been pointing out that despite international agreement about accessibility rights, much of the built environment is not accessible. One of those activists, Graham Findlay, sees a brilliant opportunity in Wales. The country is in the planning stages of Decarbonising Welsh Homes —...

The Many Colours of NIMBY: Kitties On Steroids

mountain lion on rock outcrop
NIMBY: Not in My Back Yard. Part of an ongoing collection of articles exploring some of the many ways that a worldwide affordable housing crisis is opposed. It's been more than a year since we reported a new and intriguing defence with which NIMBY-ites weaponize...

Landlord – What’s In A Name?

A young man reading a magazine sits beside a large person dressed up in a white bunny suit
A recent article in i relates that landlords in the U.K. want a makeover. Apparently landlords, like everybody else, just want to be loved and the term 'landlord' is a tough burden to carry. These are the same folks who house 20% of the country's...

How Much Can A Single Person Help The Homeless?

bowl filled with stew
Americans near one of the world's longest borders as well as Canadians (indeed, most of the country's population), share the same winter weather. The homeless are the most vulnerable to its deadly consequences. 'Warming centres' are the lowest level of winter protection for those without...

A UK ‘Levelling Up’ White Paper – Prospects For Social Rent Housing

path through hedge with many obstructions
Amidst calls for urgently needed social rent housing in England, the Parliamentary Secretary of State for Housing, Levelling Up and Communities has tabled a White Paper. It discusses the reforms the government plans to introduce. Given the urgent need for housing that is affordable...

Why Race Matters In Homelessness Programs

A balance beam with a black five spot dice on the lighter, a while 5 spot dice on the lower
When the U.S. Congress passed the McKinney-Vento Act in 1987, Black people were more likely to be homeless than white people. The Act, which was and is the framework for services to people who experience homelessness, makes no reference to Black people. Earl James...

Winnipeg Manitoba Explores Fire Harm Reduction For Winter Homeless Camps

burn barrel with fire in snowy park
A home that provides warmth, light and cooking heat is in perpetual danger from fires. Two Eastern U.S. social housing (rent geared to income) buildings were the sites of horrible conflagrations in the first days of 2022. They illustrate the devastating consequences that can...

Robo-dogs: Care & Compassion For The Homeless?

robotic dog
Reporting from the well-known winter hell-hole that is Hawaii . . . Yes indeed, toys for the boys. But could that fascination preclude becoming a police officer? The purchase by the Honolulu PD of a $150,000 piece of robotic hardware/software capable of military missions raises...

Repurposing Detached Homes – Gentle Density At Work

exterior view of house
Oakville, Ontario's Norma Gamble is inventive. In existing single detached homes, she sees opportunities for shared living. And, with persuasion and an accommodating housing market, she's been able to see her ideas through to reality. The result is housing that is much more affordable for...

Are Tenants Subsidizing Home Ownership In The U.S.?

house with sold sign
Don Layton is a Senior Industry Fellow at the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. He has just published two papers about housing policy in the United States. His major reason for writing the papers is to make recommendations to raise the rate of...

Public Housing As A Monument Of Achievement For Future Generations

kitchen of Housing Development Board flat, an exhibit in a Singapore museum
In North America, the idea of preserving public housing as a model of national achievement is absurd. It began and existed for a few heartbeats as a form of superior affordable housing for the working class. But its objectives rapidly racialized. That might have...

Street Outreach In A Frozen Hellscape: Words Or Welfare? Whatever’s Needed

Piles of snow in downtown Green Bay, Wisconsin
In case you think you know what police officers are all about . . . Retired from a life as a community police officer, Paul VanHandel took a chunk of that job with him when he left. For those who might imagine a warm, compassionate...

After Suitable Caution, We’re Pumping Our Fists For Norwegian Heat Pumps

A log in a fireplace is wreathed in flames
Are there reasons to be cheerful about heat pumps? That's the story from Norway. Being apartment renters all, the staff of affordablehousingaction.org's own cheeriness about heat pumps is entirely theoretical and will remain that way. But we had a suspicion that the following article...

Is Anyone But Tenants Interested In U.S. Public Housing Fire Safety?

Two fires in public housing in the U.S. have killed 29 and injured more. The largest loss of life occurred in New York's City Bronx boroughRead in the Architectural Record: The Site of New York City’s Worst Fire in Decades, Twin. It killed 17,...

Love Singapore Housing But Can’t Get There From Here. . . Or Maybe We Can

evening photo of public housing in Singapore
Much of the world is mightily taken with Singapore's victory in creating a workable social housing scheme with home ownership as its objective. It has been so fulfilling that over eighty percent of its residents are homeowners or on the track to be so....

What’s It Like To Provide Homelessness Services? Ask Front Line Workers

closed storefront with sign informing passersby that the staff are trained to administer naloxone
Who are the frontline workers in the COVID emergency? Hospital workers? Yes. Paramedics? Sure. The staff who work at emergency shelters and drop-in centres? Really? We know it is difficult to follow advice about social distancing and safe hygiene practices in emergency shelters and drop-in...

Pricey Climate Broil: Global Crisis With Different Strokes For Different Folks

A twilight sun in an orange-red sky over rooftops
For the hot, hot, hot citizens of Phoenix, Arizona, climate change is cranking up the weather thermostat. A recent report describes rising local temperatures as "expensive," and outlines some of the reasons why. Read more at PBS NEWS HOUR: New study outlines high costs...

What Next? Homeless Mass Dumpings To & Fro Between Warring City Clans?

Sunglasses pick out the first sunrise, close by on the other side of the divided highway a bus can be seen moving in the opposite direction
There was a period in the 18th century Highlands in Scotland when the entire economy pursued by its men — warriors all — was to raid neighbouring clans. Half of these warriors would be engaged in new raiding battles. The other half would be...

UK Rural Rental Housing Scarcity, Pick Your Villain: January 2022, It’s STR Landlords

street view of home being let as a short term rental
What are we to make of an equivalence between airBNB-type short-term holiday rentals (STRs) on one hand, and the social housing shortage on the other? A United Kingdom charity asks us to consider such an equivalence on its way to pointing out the housing...

New Housing Model For Seniors Set To Break Ground In The U.S.

paved path connecting multiple homes
From Colorado and Pennsylvania comes news of housing projects for seniors that will add to the existing housing choices for people as they age. Both are founded on evidence that age integration supports aging better than age segregation, which is currently the predominant model in...

Investors Toddle To Play In A Public Housing Playpen. Who’s Going To Get Hurt?

1912 exhibit detailing proper care for a baby
Recent American news has featured a growing catalogue of consequences that stem from a certainty disguised as an experiment by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). That supposed experiment is the Rental Assistance Demonstration Project (RAD), which effectively privatizes public housing. Reported...

Beautiful Memories Of Social Housing . . . Still With Us

a courtyard-like street lined on each side with red brick social housing. At the end of the street, a higher building in the same style
Last year, Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal won the 2021 'Nobel Prize For Architecture' — the Pritzker Prize — not for tearing down social housing and replacing it with some beautiful else, but for a lifetime of work refurbishing public housing to make what...

U.S. Mayors Take The Heat For Homelessness — Survey

a lush green park with mature trees and the ground underneath overrun with multicoloured tents of the homeless
Researchers at the Boston University Initiative on Cities have been interviewing U.S. mayors annually since 2014. This isn't your standard on-line survey. The team actually speaks to mayors. Although the responses are published, the sources are not named. The assurance of confidentiality means a...

Atlanta’s East Lake Experiment — Mixed Housing. Success Or Failure?

young students in a classroom
Mixed income communities have been the clarion call of progressive city planners trying to harness the income and influence of wealthier neighbours in the downtown 'hood, without driving out neighbourhood citizens who cannot handle the change, either economically or socially. Powered by the bylaws that...

Could Animal Attraction Underlie The Success Of Singapore’s Public Housing?

A white-faced ginger cat peers around the corner of a room
What is the magic ingredient that has made Singapore's public housing such a success, while around the world, so much of public housing has been branded either a flat-out failure, or at best an obsolete method of housing? Like poor little match girls, other countries...

Estimates Of Estimates: A Nation Tries To Pin Down Homelessness Facts

Two adult women sprawled. together on a couch
Counting the homeless is problematic. The best attempts are point-in-time counts. Volunteers saturate a region on one night of the year (Like everybody else, people who are homeless are less likely to be wandering from their known haunts at night). These point-in-time counts are...

Irish Govt Strengthens Voice of Housing-Poor. How? Adding More Voices

a grey stone or concrete piece of a monument is labelled with the word 'integrity"
Neoliberal 'small governments' see housing subsidies as the ticket to ride, allowing all — even the poorest — to climb aboard the housing train. No income? No problem. Government will buy you a seat. Superficially, the arrangement makes perfect sense. There is no need to...

A Statistical Excursion Into Housing Experience In Canada

inside traditional West Coast First Nations housing, a group of people attend a ceremony
This post is about a new series from Statistics Canada, which is responsible for gathering and analysing data about residents. The agency regularly collects data about housing. When Canada embarked on its National Housing Strategy in 2017, Statistics Canada came on board by gathering...

Shelters A Long Term Dead End? Charity Abandons Homeless Warehousing, Moves To Homes

It may be hard to view closing an emergency shelter as a step forward for providing services to the homeless in the Kitchener-Waterloo region of Ontario. But the House of Friendship has more ambitious plans. The agency needs the land for a more important contribution...

A Building Burns In The Bronx: Who Is At Fault? Investors, Not Residents

The night and following day of the latest Bronx child-killer fire on January 8, 2022, there was already little mystery about those responsible for the disaster.  It was possible to identify, even from afar via the sketchiest news reports, just which class of people...

An Unlikely Ally For A Woman Living With a Violent Partner

A Logo reading 'Magalu' with a rainbow stripe beneath it
If your cousin was being beaten by their partner, where would they go to live? This is a big question and regularly one for which there is no solution. Women often 'choose' to stay with violent partners rather than become homeless. Housing is usually...

Deadly Cold, Deadly Heat: North America Threatens A Continent’s Homeless

The picture a blur of abstract yellow and red shapes
A life-ending threat to the homeless is a familiar one over large swaths of North America in the depths of winter: deadly cold. With homelessness on the increase as the pandemic drags on, it's becoming a problem not only in cities but in rural...

Is The Bloom Coming Off HUD’s RAD Roses? Ask Winston-Salem

stem of rose bush with healthy thorns
Are the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and local housing authorities together losing faith in the promise of free enterprise? The test of that question is the booming Rental Assistance (RAD) program, which sells America's existing public housing buildings, together with the...

Small Communities Also Challenged By Homelessness

A group of smiling women in an office gather around the shortest who is holding a sign saying "Rural Health Matters"
As we transition towards at COVID endgame (please go away soon, Omicron!) one consistent story is the impact that COVID's economic pressures are having on homelessness responses. These responses usually focus on homelessness in larger cities. Pressure on these resources has been increased by the...

A Homeless Person Has Found A Home? Excellent! But The Job Has Just Begun

'Housing First' is a significant advance in moving people who are homeless from the streets and returning them to housing. It boils down to the idea that no amount of social service outreach, no trust-building via hot soup, dry socks and sympathetic counselling can...

Church And Government Pool Affordable Housing Resources In Malta, Barrie

An incredibly ornate interior of A Cathedral, with a few tourist dwarfed in the foreground
Religious organizations, particularly older ones, may have a surfeit of property as their mission to the faithful changes over time. Many have traditionally been active in providing shelter and sustenance to the homeless and needy for many decades or even centuries. Affordablehousingaction.org has featured some...

Rent Controls: Tenants Love’em, Landlords Hate’em, Govt’s Struggle With Compromise

Faces from multiple races hover above a collection of signs demanding rent control
Lots of talk worldwide about affordable housing crises. Is there any action, though? Most governments are building little or no affordable housing, and of that much may be affordable in name onlyFor an example of how 'affordable' increasingly exists only in the eye of the...

NYC Trans Legal Victory A Step Forward For All Who Fear Homeless Shelter Violence

Waving above the tops of heads at a protest, a sign reads 'trans rights are human rights
New York City, with homelessness mega-problems, is legally required to provide shelter for those homeless within its boundariesSee this article from the Coalition for the Homeless, which is the court appointed monitor of homelessness in New York City, about the right to shelter: Today’s...

The UK Invented Zombie Housing 11 Years Ago. Nobody Really Noticed Until Now.

The face of.a ghoul is imprinted on the top floor and roof of a mansion
State Housing, Council Housing, Social Housing, Public Housing, what's in a name? Underlying them all is a social compact between a nation and its most vulnerable low- and no- income citizens. The nation (via various levels of government) provides the low/no income tenant with...

Singapore Fantasies Play Out In Public Housing That Citizens Now Own

a myriad of dials and wheels and safety lighting make a confused and garish picture inside a modern submarine
Well-built Singapore public housing can last a lifetime and more. With its social housing predominantly designed for home ownership, this is a city-state in which tenant dreams of owning a home are reachable by all its citizens. There are limitations, however, for even Singapore's world-beating...

Can We Find The Spirit To Create Post-Pandemic Veterans Housing?

A row of modest little bungalows lines a suburban street
Post-world war II, there was an explosion of home building. The destruction of war necessitated the replacement of destroyed housing in countries that were active theatres of hostilities. The Soviet Union, which suffered the enormous destruction, had the greatest housing needs following the end...
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