Monthly Archives: March 2022

Dealing With The Opposite Of Homelessness: Dementia Lockup

A cheerful older man lifts a bunch of grapes high in the air
In North America, when someone is diagnosed with dementia, people often think in terms of care facilities with locked doors. In the Netherlands, it's another story. Some of the elderly folks with dementia who live in care homes spend their days working on farms. The...

Placing Tiny Homes In The Housing And Homelessness Response

Speaker at lecturn with microphone in front of several tiny houses.
Tiny Homes? Hug 'em and Love 'em! The Media seems to, including us. They're forever popping up as cozy little bandaid stories about the housing and homelessness crisis in the U.S. A recent article in Shelterforce provides a useful overview. Homelessness People who are homeless in...

Mississauga Housing Planners Put Boots To YIMBY Fantasy

Curvy high rise buildings look like a pair of legs
'Naturally affordable' housing is the the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker of urban housing. (Not quite as likely to be extinct, true enough. The last recorded Ivory-Bill sighting in its Louisiana swamp habitat was 1944). In North America these days, naturally affordable housing is probably not entirely extinct,...

Challenges In Building An Eviction Prevention Program – Data

office with two men looking on as a woman enters data at a keypunch machine
The entire housing advocacy community in North America is holding its breath as we wait to see what will happen with evictions in the days, months and years following COVID. This post looks at some of the reasons it is so hard to know...

Tackling Winter Food Insecurity With Low Tech ‘Green’ Innovation

dufresne st in Montréal, beside greenhouse
Social housing landlords are often well-placed to help stretch the food budget of their tenants by providing/allowing space for tenants to 'grow their own.' Tips abound for community gardens able to wangle some grocery-growing room in their neighbourhoods. For social housing residents, finding a corner...

Sacramento County Climbs Aboard ‘Official Tent City’ Bandwagon

close up of a homeless tent against a brick wall, may more in background
In 2021, the City of Sacramento fielded both praise and condemnation surrounding a plan for city-sanctioned 'tent cities.' They would be healthier safer, and less disruptive homeless 'housing' solutions than scattered pop-up encampments marring the cityscape. Sacramento's plan, which received council approval, was criticized as...

I Spy With My Video Eye — Social Landlord Dirty Deeds

a poster worded as follows: stand up for council housing, created by camden defend council housing
Turns out, it's not just the police who get caught out by public exposure. That embarrassment is down to half the population having a video capability in their smart phones. Social landlords who don't seem to give a damn are also a target for videography,...

North America Fair Housing Redress Is A Worldwide Guide

abandonned three storey apartment building
The histories of many North American cities are marred by institutional acts of unfairness and cruelty towards a catalog of colors, races and religions. In this current world of war with its attendant social upheavals and refugees, there is a lot for communities around the...

Do Edinburgh Short Term Rentals Leave Citizens Homeless?

massed pipe band marchers in an amphitheatre under floodlights
The war in many countries between short term rentals (STRs) and 'affordable' housing have been placed on a back burner during the COVID pandemic. Over the last two years, the numbers travelling for either work or pleasure have shrunk dramatically worldwide, resulting in an occupancy...

Developer Outs RADical Neglect Of Public Housing Tenants

An older three story red brick building
The Department of Housing and Urban Affairs (HUD) has been touting the win/win value of its RAD (Rental Assistance Demonstration) program. By converting public housing to various forms of public/private ownership and management, a secure future is being implemented for public housing buildings in...

Envy Homeless Youth Backpacking Adventure? Don’t

A group of backpackers socializing on a city street
They're young, sitting together laughing on the sidewalk. If only you could do the same, toss aside life's burdens for a few moments, be footloose and carefree! Be careful what you wish for. City Councillors in Penticton, a city in the interior of British Columbia,...

Help Save An Unsung Homeless And Poverty Hub: The Library

Forground, a napping person at a desk, in the background dozens of people at work at library tables
Bye Bye, Public Library. Something much better, more modern has crept up the inside rail and is already well past in a race to the finish of the 'Font of All Knowledge' Sweepstakes. It's called the Internet, providing a world of exploration and understanding at...

Canada’s National Housing Strategy – Heading Off In The Wrong Direction

Napoleon, facing backwards, astride a donkey
Canada's National Housing Council has just released a report with a title that is hardly a headline grabber: Analysis of Affordable Housing Supply Created by Unilateral National Housing Strategy Programs: A Research Report. The contents of the report, however, should be taken seriously. The report...

A Big-Bucks Seattle Plan To Shelter The Visibly Homeless

A downtown sidewalk jammed with 8 homeless buskers who between them have 6 dogs
Businesses generally see visible homelessness as bad for business, sullying what might otherwise be 'beautiful downtown Seattle,' for example. Is it possible for the public interest in ending homelessness to be profitably married to business support for sufficiently similar objectives? If any city could do it,...

Government Planned Youth Starvation: Pardon Our Rant

5 peas and a fork are the only things on a plate
Government-Planned Starvation of youth? Well, not technically, but let's detour on the subject via an oldster . . . me. Really, it's three months since my last small Canada Pension Plan payment arrived. Thank heavens I have savings. Many don't and would go hungry under...

Remove Affordable Housing From Free Market By Snatching

exterior view of Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles
Governments are well-versed in the art of seizing land. This isn't just a comment on autocratic non-democracies. Modern democracies know how to do it, too, simply declaring that a chunk of land now belongs to the 'state' by virtue of laws called, among other...

UK ‘Small’ Government As A Deliberate Death Machine

closeup of flames with burning wood at its heart
15 years before the 2017 Grenfell Tower Fire, neoliberalism had firmly gripped the imagination of politicians. The message had not necessarily filtered down to UK bureaucrats who laboured on, fulfilling their redundant 'nanny state' responsibilities that were no longer needed. Among those was organizing...

Black ‘Holocaust’? Community Heart? NPH Museum Covers Both

This post celebrates the advent of the U.S. National Public Housing Museum (NPHM). Physically, it is still a bright and glossy figment of the imagination. A visit to the NPHM's website shows an architect's view of the new museum as one of a rotating...

Reflections On The U.S. Housing Crisis In The Great Depression

1930's shanty camp in Chicago
The 1930's were a desperate time in the U.S. Years of drought meant repeated crop failures. Work sites were shuttered. Hundreds of thousands of people lost work and their homes. Annie Howard, writing in Shelterforce, recounts events of that time, focussing on Chicago, where unemployment...

Toronto Area: Local Studies Support Calls For Housing Rights

exterior view of high rise apartment building
As we are learning in Canada, adopting the Human Right to Adequate Housing marked an ending and a beginning. It's an ending because after decades of work, Canada's government in 2019 passed the National Housing Strategy Act, which affirms this right to adequate housing....

Pointed Housing Protest In Montréal vs. Canuck Truckers Needling Ottawa

A classic social housing high-rise
It was recently encouraging to see protesters in the province de Québec (PQ) with a clear sense of purpose. It happened at the same time as disgruntled Canadian truckers aped a snowbound version of a Make America Great Again (MAGA) rally, only in an...

Learning From A Housing Experiment In Hawaii

Speaker in front of young people who are draped with Hawaiian flag
Did you know that Hawaii initiated an affirmative action program to protect Native Hawaiians from extinction and promote their culture in 1922? Would this program and the experience of implementing it be instructive elsewhere? Williamson Chang and Abbey Seitz think so. Chang teaches law at...

Victoria, AU Sinks $800m Social Housing Hook Into Developers

exterior view of five storey building under construction
The Australian State of Victoria appears to be bucking international trends by not only announcing a massive social housing (rent geared to income) build, but actually taking the necessary steps to make it happen. In Europe, after some years of neglect in favour of free...

Getting The Best From Supportive Housing

street view of low rise supportive housing
Supportive housing has become an essential component in programs to end homelessness. At the same time, it seems that we still have a lot to learn about what supportive housing is and how it works. The articles linked to this post discuss supportive housing...

Domestic Abuse Victims Must Stay Local: A Death Sentence?

writing in black marker on a green wall says 'strike that bitch in the face while the iron is hot
The headline of this post suggests that a victim leaving a domestic abuser, but not that abuser's neighbourhood, could have fatal consequences. That might seem to be an idea that is over the top. Regardless, it will linger in the minds of those who...

Rescuing Overlooked Homeless Kids In San Diego

fingers plucking guitar strings
A CBS 8 San Diego video available on YouTube somewhat breathlessly explores three homelessness issues at once, all of which are interesting once you are used to the frenetic pacing. The video celebrates a youth homelessness charity Doors of Change that has operated with significant...

Is EnerPHit the Future of Affordable Housing?

A cream coloured high rise building with blue balconies on its corners
Can affordable housing high rises serve the needs of low-income people and cut carbon dioxide emissions at the same time — all at a competitive cost? Let's look at a just-completed public housing retrofit owned by CityHousing Hamilton (CHH), which shows what is possible. The...

Giving Money For Things That Turn Out To Be Priceless

Chicago Artists Relief Fund symbol
No, this is not a post about buying something at a flea market only to learn that it is priceless. It's about what happens when people have enough money to stop and think about their future. Sometimes referred to universal basic income, or guaranteed...

Convenience Of Irish Town Centres Are A New Residential Focus

street view of abandonned building
Suburban wealth and automobile culture have produced three-quarters of a century of downtown commercial erosion. Pedestrian convenience gave way to suburban/exurban shopping centres and box stores more easily accessed by cars. This trend has seen some recent reversal with gentrification in inner city residential districts...

COVID Or No, Rental Housing With Low Rents Continues To Vanish

A bulldozer at work in front of a demolished house
This year, affordablehousingaction.org is covering reports about rental markets in Canada and the United States in one post. Annual reviews are completed in each country. Both reports cover the 2021 period and comment extensively on pre-COVID and COVID patterns. And while there are differences...

New Brunswick & The ‘Deserving Human’ Right To Housing

A father and 3 sons, clearly outside lie on pallets, with a body of water behind them, bordered by a railing
Canada is so enamoured with the importance of human rights as embodied in United Nations declarations, that it has built a museum to showcase the lofty heights of its national responsibilities and achievements. Specifically (for the purposes of this post), along with many other...

Denver’s Space-Age Homelessness: Hiding In Plane Sight

A crowded airport forecourt and security area
Like the opportunistic grass that grows up through the cracks in a concrete sidewalk, the homeless prevail in their daily struggle to survive. That they are bound to do so in spite of prejudice and hatred, in spite of bullying and harassment, is evident at...

Australia: ‘Adequate’ Housing = Reasonable Comfort

The lurid orange glow of sunset silhouettes trees mirrored perfectly in a glassy river
Private enterprise is a soft target for anyone inclined to see 'profit' as an unholy alliance between a business enterprise and its shareholders. This is particularly true for activists supporting those who rely upon a private enterprise for their shelter. But governments (and increasingly, non-profit...

The ‘Magnet Effect’: Breaking The Heart Of Homelessness

". . .you in your small corner, and I in mine," is an evocative phrase from a children's hymn, proposing that individuals might shine in the light of a guiding hand from above. Translating the notion to a nation's cities, each in its own small...

Domestic Abuse? (Exasperated Sigh) Why Not Just Leave?

The words 'Home Sweet Home on a piece of glass are progressively blurred by reflections
Here, from four experts in the UK, are answers to the question: "Why Don't Victims of Domestic Abuse Just Leave?" Cassandra Wiener discusses how abusers instill fear and exert control. Michaela Rogers explains why it's not just a matter of 'popping out the door' but constrained by...

Finding Cost Savings In Conventional Construction Methods

A boat made of snow sits in front of a castle of ice
A builder in the U.S. northwest argues that it is possible to lower construction costs, using conventional methods, without sacrificing quality. In the article below Mike Steffan, the builder, outlines how these savings can be achieved and provides three examples of recent projects. Steffan demonstrates...

Giving Lived Experience Of Homelessness/Precarious Housing Their Due

a man eyes camera from behind a shopping cart filled with his possessions
Lived experience. Think about it for a moment. If you wanted to prevent homelessness, of which you had no direct knowledge, it would seem sensible to get advice from people with experience. Every person who has been homeless, or has been on the brink of...

Community Land Trust Purchases 40-Unit Building With NO Public Funding

40 unit apartment building with for sale signs
The San Francisco Community Land Trust recently purchased a 40 unit apartment building, which will operate as a housing co-operative providing permanently affordable housing. The purchase is significant because it did not qualify for public funding. Instead: A substantial amount of financing came from a...

Housing For All: The Death Of Democracy In Victoria, Australia?

Looking down a suburban sidewalk beside a flower-bedecked white picket fence
The State of Victoria in Australia has come up with an astonishing plan to actually fight homelessness with housing. It intends to do so by rapidly building some 10,000 social housing units. Not only that, it's putting money on the table instead of waving...

Society’s Neglect -> Homeless Deaths. Are Both Increasing?

When one of the world's well known newspapers does an 'exclusive analysis' and concludes deaths among the homeless are surging, it's worth taking note. Studies that link early mortality and homelessness are not new. The stresses of life without a house lead to earlier deaths...

2008 Housing Crisis? Canada Sailed Above It. Too Bad.

Wooden unfinished housing frames crowd together on a mud lot
What if Canadian homeowners had suffered the same calamities of the 2008 mortgage meltdown as Americans? Many homeowners in other nations also suffered. Canada largely crested the waves of insolvency that elsewhere forced foreclosures and evictions. Canadian homeowners got to smugly point to our handful...

Shelter Intake Broadens: A New “Lost Generation” Of Homeless?

City Hope St. Louis provides homeless shelter and resources in St. Louis, Missouri. Like many organizations that operate shelters for people who are homeless, their hand-to-mouth income flow requires them to be a low income employer. That's not a great situation to be in...

Human Rights And Disabilities – 40 Years of Action

three people posing for a selfie. One has a cane. One is in a wheelchair. Some are Black
Jan Grue has Muscular Dystrophy. He is a professor at the University of Oslo in the Department of Sociology and Human Geography. Grue was born in 1981, the International Year of Disabled Persons. He has a deep understanding of living in a time when the...

Fresno’s Council Gets a Knee On Homeless Supporter Necks

Police surround and pin a wanted criminal to the ground
How low can you go in criminalizing people who have the misfortune to be homeless? Fresno, California is certainly stretching the limits. Jail them? At least jail has food. And it costs many thousands a year to keep one individual in prison, let alone a...

Brain Injuries: Warfare & Contact Sports Trail The Homeless

An image of a brain as if made of glass, with electric flow of electrons feeding deep into the brain
When we first encountered the following article, we almost dismissed it as a celebration of the obvious. Pretty much everyone has been told by now that chronic homelessness, characterized by extended and/or repeated periods of homelessness, is linked with drug use and poor mental...

Denver Official Tent Communities: Admirable But Ephemeral

It's hard to picture (the following article allows that) one of Denver, Colorado's official homeless tent communities without noticing how ephemeral it is. A strong puff of wind might blow it away. More likely it will vanish in a stillness of funding dollars. Admirable it...
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