Monthly Archives: June 2022

Housing Financialization —> Individual and Community Ill-Heath

In some jurisdictions, laws are beginning to restrict the financialization of housing — buying and selling it principally for profit, not shelter. Financialization is not only a local game, it's an international one. Your dream home in Newark, NJ may already be owned by...

A Story About Public Housing Success . . . (Missing: Public Housing)

Jeanette Taylor, Chicago Council woman, standing at a podium and speaking, backed by activist supporters
Jeanette Taylor was an 18-year-old single mum when she applied to the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). She was struggling to get through school — unthinkable that she wouldn't — and living with her baby, her mother, her sister and her sister's child. A home...

Wales: Torching Unaffordable Homes: Impotent Mutterings Or Real Threat?

The world's populations are more and more denied access to adequate affordable housing. The primary — and growing — barrier to renting or owning a home is 'financialization' — using housing as casino chips in an effort by speculative investors to increase their wealth. The...

Why Pot Permission Everywhere Might Spark Public Housing Rebirth

During the recent Nation Basketball Association Finals, an advertisement was aired that slammed years of racist enforcement of criminalized drug use. In New York over the years, Latinos have been 8 times more likely to be arrested for illegal marijuana use than Whites. Blacks...

Pushing Supportive Housing To Do Better

Supportive housing is supposed to be part of the solution to homelessness, not contributing to it. It's supposed to be the magic space where people who have been homeless for a long time can settle in permanentlyTry: Supportive Housing: What Is It? How To...

Tracing The Legacy of South Africa’s Truth And Reconciliation Commission In North America

a caution sign warns of a pope holding hands with a child as both run across the street
South Africa has a history of explicit discrimination — Apartheid — which was baked into its culture through laws and regulations. These laws authorized police and the military to use force and intimidation to protect and sustain the culture. If you had been in South Africa...

Social Housing That Pays Its Way

Social housing costs and costs and costs. Until the building reaches the end of its useful life, it has to be supported with public funding, right? According to Marc Lee from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, it doesn't have to be this way. Lee...

Changing The Way We See Our Neighbours

welcome sign above people with smiling faces
Sheryll Cashin, a professor from Georgetown University in the United States, says that we need to change our thinking when it comes to community planning. She argues that current practices promote exclusion and fear. Zoning, which is a foundation of community planning, is an example...

Housing Help? You Could Kick Ass And Take Names Like Kwajo Tweneboa

An old farmhouse kitchen, probably abandoned, paint peeling everywhere and a window poorly boarded up
It's not too hard to describe 'adequate housing.' The United Nations has done so. It shouldn't be all that difficult to get entire nations to commit to the principle of 'adequate housing' as a basic human rightThe right to housing is included in the...

Community-Integrated Jailing For The Homeless Criminal Class?

Visit 'Ground Zero' in the world's homeless crisis, The City of Los Angeles (LA) in California. It's an encounter that every city with a homelessness problem should consider undertaking — virtually at least. LA is one of the largest cities in the state of...

Aussie Mixed Development Will Build Bare Minimum Of Social Housing

In the background, half a hundred shiny towers that are a central business district. In the shady foreground, an inner city suburb with trees and houses.
Is it time to abandon the neoliberal religion? The coming of its messiahs were prophesied some 40 or so years ago. These saviours of society would be the financier-angels, the developer-angels, and the builder-angels who would transform world societies into a paradise of food,...

Housing Opportunities In The Midst Of Extreme Poverty In Texas

A yellow-painted concrete block building sports a large sign advertising Tortillas and all the fixin's.
Brownsville, Texas borders on Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico. It sits in the delta of the Rio Grande River. It is low and flat, floods regularly and "gets lots and lots of hurricanes," according to Nick Mitchell-Bennett, who leads come dream come build...

Could Affordable Housing Support Help Poor, Inspire Church Growth?

looking towards the alter in Canterbury Cathedral. The seats facing the alter are empty.
The Church of England's R number is too low. That suggests its long term survival is in question. Could a social program, such as providing housing for the poor, increase its R number and help ensure its survival? For many, the previous paragraph will read...

Why Do I Have An Eviction Notice? I’ve Been Paying My Rent…

A businessman vaguely in background, a hand extends a stack of hidden dollar bills
Do you rent? Suppose you found an eviction notice in your mail. Reason: failure to pay your rent. But that can't be! You've paid it faithfully for . . . years! Really, years! There must be some mistake! Suppose, just suppose, it's YOUR mistake. You've paid...

Australia Welcomes Its First Public Housing-Raised Prime Minister

Older, quite elegant two-story brick apartment buildings
Hats off to a public housing urchin who has made it all the way to Prime Minister of Australia. Anthony Albanese grew up in a 1927 public housing development that eventually turned him into — to use the words of a former Australian prime...

What Can Privatized Public Housing Contribute? World-Class Rebuff

black and white image of arms crossed over torso
Private enterprise has to be good for something, otherwise nobody would bother with it. For shareholders, think and believe tasty profits. For public housing management, think and apparently expect stonewall. A group of young investigative journalists from the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism set out to...

Activists Take Note: Homelessness Needs Ambassadors, Too. Like These

Melissa
Do we need more activist explanations that parse such critical details as 'visible' and 'invisible' homelessness, as well as the specific health challenges suffered by the 'chronic' homelessness (not to mention 'chronic' homelessness itself)? Of course we need more, to the point where every citizen...

Homeless Jail Homeless Jail . . . Breaking The Cycle

"beds not bars" sign leaning against a bed - outdoor scene
The John Howard Society of Ontario provides support to people who are affected by the criminal justice system. Their mandate also includes research and public education. The Society's report No Fixed Address, highlights connections between homelessness and incarceration. The report's authors are quick to point...

Homeless? Bully(s) For You. Our Shelter System Can Provide!

A recent school shooting in Texas resulted in the deaths of 19 students, 2 teachers, and the wounding of others. Within a day, anecdotes about the life history of the shooter (who also died) indicate that a speech impediment led to a school history...

Potato, Potahto, Tomato, Tomahto, Let’s Not Call Public Housing Off

potatoes and tomatoes at a market stall
Is it a name game or a blame game or a mixture of both? Let's look at the words. Developers as well as affordable housing activists from both ends of the political spectrum are both using words and abusing words to foist their visions off...

Some Compulsory Trivia For New(?) ‘Social Housing’ Activists

America has spent the better part of a century digging public housing into an economic hole from which it will, at least in its present form, never emerge. Parsimony has evolved to put a chokehold on public housing. From modest creature-comforts of an earlier era...

Countering Discrimination In The Property Tax System

A hand holds up a return evelope addressed to a property tax department.
If you’ve ever wondered how systems and structures contribute to discrimination, this is a great story to read. It’s about a property tax auction in Baltimore. The City holds the auction every year to recover outstanding property taxes. Creative ‘investors’ have figured out several ways...

Goosed By Pandemic: Walkers? Yes, Big Time! Bikers . . . Not So Much

pairs of feet walking across pavement
The cost of housing is so high these days that ownership is prohibitive to many, if not most in the next generation. Meanwhile, rental housing costs can drive you into poverty, while homelessness is, as always, shunned and scorned. And what of transportation costs which,...

Why NA Gentrified/Suburbanites Need To Love Public Housing Tenants

A smart-looking public housing building with a heart superimposed over it
'NA' in the headline? North American. Why North American, when simply 'American' covers most of the bases in a discussion about loving your disadvantaged neighbours. Americans often don't realize, though they may suspect, that their attitudes are often mirrored and even envied in Canadian attitudes...

A Garden That Grew Out Of The Tragedy Of The Grenfell Tower Fire

An avalanche of flowers spills across the front of a Notting Hill community centre, partially obscuring it.
As the public inquiry about the Grenfell Tower fire grinds onFor example, read this account in The Guardian: ‘A merry-go-round of buck-passing’: inside the four-year Grenfell inquiry , it is reasonable to wonder whether anything positive is ever going to come out of this...

Homeless On The American Murder Range: Shooter Or Target?

a shrouded figure sits on a walkway, back against a wall
So what's the homeless score in Murderland? How many upstanding citizens have been done to death by homeless people — angry, drug-fueled and/or otherwise crazed? How many hapless homeless people have been self-defenced to death by gun-toting freedom lovers? Which side is ahead? Which behind? Jacobin is a...

Indigenous Housing – Doing Better

four modest houses in a frozen landscape, an ice-covered bay and headlands beyond
Housing conditions in remote communities have been a personal issue for this writer, ever since working in Canada's north in the 1970's. At the time, the housing built for Indigenous people lacked indoor plumbing and used an oil drum for heating. And while some...

Vision and Evidence — An Important Pairing In A Campaign For Social Housing

Renters Rising and the Center For Popular Democracy have published a vision document for social housing advocates in the United States: Social Housing For All. The document sets the stage by recounting the demise of public programs that shaped the housing market, laying the responsibility...

O Canada! The True North Weak And Diseased . . .

weather beaten houses along a beach line
The headline above is a line from Canada's national anthem, unfortunately adjusted to circumstances. The impetus for such an outrageous(?) modification comes from a book review in nature. The review introduces the book this way: "A history of TB infections in homes in India to illuminate...

Unmasking The Barriers To Accessory Dwelling Units

Across a lush lawn, a lovely little cottage nestles beneath palm trees
Shelterforce's "Under The Lens" series do deep dives on urban issues. The latest one is about ADUs — accessory dwelling units. ADUs are sometimes presented as a solution to the affordable housing crisis, where extra homes are added to existing residential areas and so...

Australia’s Housing Crisis: When Housing Is An Asset, Not A Need

You can't really camp out and expect to be protected from the elements under a multi-million dollar Andy Warhol painting. It is an asset pure and simple, to be cherished for its current value as well as its potential profit over cost of investment,...

Darn! Another Unexpected Public Housing Good News Story

dirt and some partially digested food fill the picture. Fat pink worms writhe everywhere
Happy to be happy? Or happy to be miserable? This writer was most likely enjoying the latter state of mind just a few days ago. He was pacing around the room with the world's problems on his shoulders, falling so low in mood that...

Changing Modern Libraries: Needs To Suit, And Suits to Need

hangers from a metal bar hold a variety of kinds of clothing
Over the years, different city libraries have experienced long-standing relationships with the poor and the homeless. For the quieter down-and-out visitors, or those prepared to put a lid on their exuberance, libraries have long been a place for the homeless to rest and dodge...

A History of Evolving Planning Prejudice in America

A tile mosaic with black streets marking an orange district city map
Adam Paul Susaneck is an architect. His research and its implications might be mistaken as a focus on 'building design.' But the scope of one of his current projects makes use of the broadest view of urban planning. It is a history of how...

Energy Retrofits In Older Homes: A Case Study

Older two story grey stone houses, Victorian or earlier
Climate change is a compelling argument for doing things differently. In northern climates at least, our homes contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions and rising global temperatures. Researchers have assessed that if we lived in homes that achieved the Passivhaus EnerPHit ratingRead more about...

National Crime Problems? Find Scapegoats. . . Or Up Social Spending?

A group of pigtailed Black preschoolers jam onto a swing
When it comes to finding scapegoats for rising crime, America is hardly alone in demonizing the poor and vulnerable. Still, it's success over decades in pointing the finger towards thousands upon thousands of innocent public housing occupants surely stands out as a world class...

Building An Alternative Future For Women With Low Income

A homeless woman sits slumped on a sidewalk. She is reasonably well dressed and cared for, but seems completely introverted
The Resilient Cities Network assists cities that are looking for assurances that they will continue to prosper in the future. The Network's assessment tools requires cities to evaluate shocks and stresses that could affect their future. Along with climate change, cities that have joined...

Free To Be Completely Nuts? California Winds Homelessness Into The Issue

A man in grubby clothing pulls a shopping cart festooned with bags that hold all he is hoarding
California is re-examining mental health problems 'solved' half a century ago as a way of dealing with some aspects of chronic homelessness. Some chronically homeless people have such severe mental health issues that, from an outsider's perspective, they are incapable of effectively looking after themselves. This...

A Key To Implementing The Right To Adequate Housing In Canada: Coordination

outdoor picture of Prime Minister and Ten Premiers in 1945
Now that Canada has officially recognized the right to adequate housing in legislation (The National Housing Strategy Act), knowledgeable Canadians are busy helping the country to get off to a good start. What does the 'right to adequate housing' mean for all governments in...

Libraries Are Going To Seed In A Good Way

a collection of packets of vegetable seeds, their pictures on the outside
Some libraries in the United States are adding a new lending feature: seeds. Bridget Shirvell, writing in Civil Eats, shares stories from public libraries in Mystic Connecticut, from Oakland and San Francisco in California, from Jefferson, Georgia, as well as from the library at...

Holding Government Feet To The Climate Change (And Other) Fire

A canal in foreground, four Dutch windmills in background
Emergency planning is easy and inexpensive, at least compared to emergency management. History provides valuable support to researchers tasked with developing emergency plans. Add some creative thinkers and there you have it. But emergency management based on such plans can depend on a much more...

Gump Is Dead But Anonymous Donors Aren’t, Thank Heavens!

Looking long a Hudson, New York Street with rows of fine old commercial buildings on each side
From abundance fifty years ago, the Christmas Island Forest Skink is now extinct. Gump died. She was the last of her kindTry:Extinction obituary: the sudden, sad disappearance of the Christmas Island forest skink. The pandemic is still chugging away, killing vulnerable people, including a million...

Making Service Coordination Work Better For People Who Are Homeless

Governments in Canada and the United States are devotees of service coordination as the way to fix homelessness: by working together, we can all be more effective. In both countries, agencies are required to participate in a coordinated access/entryIn this post, we're using coordinated...

A Rare(?) Thumbs-Up For HUD/NYCHA Public Housing Repair

birds eye view of Washington Heights public housing in New York City
America has been carelessly discarding its public housing for decades now, but is coming to two important realizations about the future of truly affordable housing: Nobody is building truly affordable housing in the quantity needed, which was once largely provided by public housing. (Mixed...
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