affordable housing

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“Alexandra Residences” (1926).

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 02/06/2022 - 9:50am in

“Alexandra Residences” (1926). Inter-war period art deco apartment building constructed as social housing, and remains occupied by low income earners today. The childhood home of Australia’s newly elected leader and Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, who was raised by his single mother here in the 1960’s & 70’s. Camperdown.

Inter-war period art

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/05/2022 - 8:25am in

Inter-war period art deco apartment building that’s seen better days. Marrickville.

New report finds housing affordability in dire straits

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 13/05/2022 - 11:17am in

In this blog, Georgia shares some of the high level findings of Anglicare Australia’s annual Rental Affordability Snapshot. It’s not a fantastic picture for our most vulnerable communities, so she also shares how Councils can access data that gives a wider view of the supply of affordable rentals in their area.

Already know that affordable housing supply is an issue in your area? Book a meeting with our housing consultants to learn more about how the data in housing.id could assist your Council.

A few weeks ago, Anglicare Australia released their annual Rental Affordability Snapshot. The headline figures come as no surprise to anyone following rental affordability in recent years – there were just a handful of rental properties that were affordable to some of Australia’s most vulnerable population groups.

The report looks at all the rental listings that were available over a specified weekend – 19 March this year – and assesses them on the affordability for a variety of household types on Centrelink payments or the minimum wage. This year, the report found that of the 45,992 listings across Australia:

  • 7 listings (0%) were affordable for a single person on the JobSeeker payment
  • 663 listings (1.4%) were affordable for a couple on the Aged Pension
  • 7,041 listings (15.3%) were affordable to a couple with children, both earning minimum wage (and Family Tax Benefit A)

A pretty bleak picture! However, this type of data is really valuable in highlighting the extent of the affordability crisis in Australia, and for advocating for more social and affordable housing.

In fact we need more data like this. While the Anglicare report is a great start – it only looks at the listings that were available over one weekend. What if this weekend was a ‘slow’ one for rental listings? If someone was looking for a rental property, they would most likely be looking for a few weeks or months even. This type of data with a longer time period would give a more realistic view of the supply of affordable rentals.

The Anglicare report also offered some insight at a regional level, based on their operating regions. These are quite broad, in some cases a whole state, but give some idea of the spatial distribution of affordable housing supply. For example, the 7 properties that were affordable for a single person on the JobSeeker payment were found in the Central West, Far West & Orana and Illawarra regions of NSW, metropolitan Brisbane and Northern Tasmania.

.id are in a really privileged position, along with our partners PropTrack, to assist Councils in gaining access to this data, at a Local Government and suburb level geography. As part of housing.id, Councils get access to data outlining the number of affordable rentals that would have been available for low income households over the past year. Better yet, this data is updated every six months, to give a rolling picture of the changing affordability landscape.

The example below is for Frankston City Council. During 2021, there were 60 properties listed for rent that would have been affordable to a household on a very low income – which correlates well to Government support payments. And with a new feature we’ve just added, you can also gain an insight on the size of the property. Of the 60 that were affordable, 52 (87%) were one bedroom properties. This might be suitable for smaller household types, but may not be appropriate for families (more on this in another blog!).

This data can be really powerful, especially for Council’s advocacy work. If you’d like to find out more about this type of data, and how it could assist you in supporting affordable housing provision you can book a meeting with our housing consultants to discuss the needs of your area.

Run down inter-war

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 09/05/2022 - 9:41am in

Run down inter-war period art deco apartment building. Constructed as social housing and remains occupied by low income earners today. One of four identical buildings. Glebe.

Great Depression era

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 08/04/2022 - 9:39am in

Great Depression era art deco apartment building in the classic “Sydney Red Brick”. Hurlstone Park.

A pair of

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 16/03/2022 - 9:24am in

A pair of post-WWII apartment buildings for low income earners. Social housing constructed by the NSW Housing Commission during a program of extensive slum clearances. A marble plaque reads: “This stone was unveiled by the Hon. Clive R. Evatt, K.C., M.L.A. Minister for Housing, 22nd April 1950. C.A. Gaskin Pty Ltd. Builders. C.C. Brewster and Murray. Architects.” Balmain.

A Waterlogged Park Embraces Bangkok’s Monsoons

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 10/03/2022 - 4:26am in

Carry the water

Bangkok is a waterlogged city, built on marshes in a part of the world where monsoon season can drop over 13 inches of rain in a single month. Yet the way it has developed — rapidly and haphazardly — has made it even more prone to flooding. Now, with some major new projects, the city is breaking ground in how to live with regular inundations.

The most notable is a huge new park, the city’s first in 30 years, that opened in central Bangkok in 2017. Chulalongkorn University Centenary Park is a marvel of flooding adaptation. It embraces the city’s original, natural topography, with a green slope that allows water to tumble down to a series of wetlands. These wetlands filter the water and feed it into a retention pond. 

bangkokChulalongkorn University Centenary Park. Credit: Wikipedia

The park was designed by Landprocess, a Thai firm started by Kotchakorn Voraakhom, who cofounded the Porous City Network, which develops nature-led solutions to flooding in Southeast Asia. In an interview, Voraakhom explains how the region’s cities are leading the way in flooding adaptation, and why women are particularly adept at leveraging natural solutions to human-made problems. 

Read more at the New York Times

Air plants

In a part of the world that’s as dry as Bangkok is wet, scientists are successfully growing vegetables in the desert using moisture pulled from the atmosphere around them.

RTBC has reported on ways to extract moisture from the air before. But this effort, in Saudi Arabia, is distinctive for its focus on finding a new way to irrigate farms in arid climates. Solar panels convert the energy they collect into heat, and a hydrogel smeared onto the backs of the panels absorbs and locks in the resulting vapor. The process is surprisingly simple — desert air isn’t as dry as you think. Saudi’s humidity hovers around 40 percent during the day, and 80 percent at night.

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So far, the experiment is small — the scientists have sprouted 57 spinach seeds into seven-inch plants. And scaling up the model to support small farms will require industrial collaborators. But in principle, there’s no reason the process couldn’t be used by arid or off-grid communities as a resource that is already available in the air all around them. “For a single household living in the mountain, or a very small community living in the middle of nowhere, this system can really help get those very basic human needs,” said one of the researchers.

Read more at Fast Company

Checking in

California’s struggles with homelessness have been most evident in its cities, but unhoused folks in the rural parts of the state — often less visible than in urban areas — need assistance, too. In Del Norte County, for instance, a northern region of only 28,000, there are at least 250 people experiencing homelessness, and officials say that’s probably a drastic undercount.

del norteDel Norte County, California. Credit: David A. Hofmann / Flickr

 To assist these people, Project Homekey is turning the state’s underused hotels and motels into affordable housing. In Del Norte, a 30-room motel has been renamed the Legacy Apartments. Many of its residents are only temporary, eventually moving on to conventional housing, but others have decided to stay long-term. Some that spoke to the L.A. Times credited the accommodations with keeping them warm and safe from Covid. “If it wasn’t for this place, I would probably be dead right now,” said one. 

Soon, the state will renovate the rooms to make them more like apartments, with full kitchens and homier furnishings. Statewide, over 7,000 affordable housing units have been created this way. In January, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that the state will spend an additional $14 billion to create even more.

Read more at the Los Angeles Times

The post A Waterlogged Park Embraces Bangkok’s Monsoons appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Back drive way

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/03/2022 - 7:50am in

Back drive way, ramshackle flats at the rear of some late Victorian era shop fronts. Enmore.

A Major Barrier to Affordable Housing is Finally Falling

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 18/02/2022 - 7:00pm in

For many, even those who make a decent salary, it’s harder than ever to buy a first home in the United States. The median sale price for a home has been climbing steadily for nearly a decade, and hit record highs last year, according to the National Association of Realtors. To ease pressure on prices, according to Freddie Mac economists, the U.S. needs another nearly four million homes — an injection of supply to meet the growing demand. 

Yet in most of the U.S., local rules stipulate how many new homes can be built on a property. And for many properties – even in cities – those rules come down to the loneliest number: one. 

Some cities are trying to change that. In 2018, the Minneapolis City Council voted to approve Minneapolis 2040, a plan that captured headlines around the world. Minneapolis had voted, in effect, to end single-family zoning, the common land-use regulation that keeps apartment buildings and multi-family dwellings out of certain neighborhoods. The city’s new rules would allow two- and three-family houses to be built in any part of the city, even in neighborhoods where they had previously been illegal. 

Minneapolis’s decision – the first of its kind on a citywide level anywhere in the U.S. – took aim at what has often been portrayed as the quintessential American dwelling. In recent years, the single-family house that sits alone on its own property has attracted fresh scrutiny for its physical and societal consequences. Indeed, single-family zoning sometimes has racist origins, designed in many cases to create or preserve exclusively white neighborhoods. In Minneapolis’s case, for instance, many homes carried racially restrictive deed covenants—documents explicitly preventing homes from being sold to Black people—in the early part of the 20th century. And even though those covenants have since been outlawed, research has shown that many of the neighborhoods where they were clustered remain largely white today. Single-family zoning “replaced [covenants] as a tool to maintain the status quo,” as one planner told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune last year. 

minneapolisA neighborhood in Minneapolis. Credit: Michael Comerford / Flickr

Single-family zoning also limits how much new housing that can be built, which drives up prices in in-demand neighborhoods. And it contributes to suburban sprawl, which carries all sorts of environmental impacts. Minneapolis was motivated, partly, by a desire to undo some of its legacy of segregation, and to promote a higher density of housing in all of its neighborhoods. 

“The idea was to essentially allow a wider variety of housing options throughout the city, including in areas that really had few options,” says Jason Wittenberg, the manager of code development in the city’s Community Planning and Economic Development department. “There was definitely a connection made to the history of exclusion of people through means that are no longer legal, but were a reality for years and years.” 

The rules allowing duplexes and triplexes on every property in Minneapolis went into effect at the beginning of 2020, and so far their impact has been relatively limited. During the first two years after the zoning rules were changed, 59 new duplexes and 15 new triplexes were permitted, according to data provided by city officials. Of these, 30 duplexes and three triplexes were permitted in areas where they weren’t previously allowed. 

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It remains to be seen whether this pace will accelerate. Just like many home-building markets, Minneapolis is feeling the strain of supply chain kinks and labor shortages. Remote work and other economic forces are changing once-predictable migration patterns. It’s a strange time to be evaluating any kind of new housing policy. 

But what is clear is that Minneapolis’s ban on single-use zoning is part of a growing movement as more and more places part ways with a type of land use that has long held back density and diversity. In 2019, the state of Oregon passed a law allowing additional units to be built on lots zoned for single-family homes in most of its cities. Its biggest city, Portland, implemented its own rules the following year. California, which has one of the worst housing shortages in the country, moved to eliminate single-family restrictions last year, after several of its cities had passed similar laws of their own. In New Zealand, where average home prices recently cracked one million dollars (USD $650,000), the government recently passed a law, backed by opposing political parties, allowing denser housing in single-family areas. 

The motives behind these decisions are varied. They seek to increase housing supply, promote racial equity, remove government regulations, or (particularly in Oregon’s case) protect the natural environment from sprawl. Though the number of jurisdictions that have eliminated single-family zoning is still small, Lydia Lo, a research associate in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center at the Urban Institute, says it is “absolutely a trend,” and one with broad appeal across the political spectrum in the U.S. 

“It is a trend that we’re going to continue to see happen, and honestly the pattern is not going to be predictable because it’s such a cross-party issue,” Lo says. “There’s a lot of support and excellent arguments for it, using both parties’ rhetoric.”

single family homes“It is a trend that we’re going to continue to see happen, and honestly the pattern is not going to be predictable because it’s such a cross-party issue.” Credit: Thomas Hawk / Flickr

Andrea Brennan, the director of community planning and economic development in Minneapolis, says the goal of the zoning changes was to allow more housing options in the most exclusive areas. Perhaps predictably, this led to an outcry from certain homeowners in these areas, some of whom planted “Don’t Bulldoze Our Neighborhood” signs on their single-family lawns. But as Brennan points out, the law by no means outlaws single-family homes – if anything, it empowers the free market, opening the door to any kind of housing that meets local demand. In the city’s wealthier neighborhoods, the market for duplexes and triplexes is not well-established. “We didn’t think there would be bulldozers in single-family neighborhoods transforming them overnight,” Brennan says. 

One early study even found that the permission to build extra units on single-family lots in Minneapolis may have contributed to a small increase in housing prices relative to similar lots outside the city limits. In other words, the effects of zoning rules are dependent on market conditions, says Lo, and the argument that multi-family buildings bring down an area’s home values isn’t rooted in evidence or data. 

“The narrative of how we got here, and the case that really restrictive zoning laws created a shortage which drove up housing prices is a really easy causal narrative,” Lo says. “However, there is no good research showing that you can just reverse that process to get to lower housing prices.” 

Minneapolis officials acknowledge that eliminating single-family restrictions has had modest impacts so far. But over the course of the 20-year plan, they say, it could still produce hundreds of new housing units that otherwise wouldn’t have been built in low-density neighborhoods. And it’s only one aspect of the comprehensive plan that’s aimed at making housing more affordable. 

Cities are continuing to experiment with policies that permit more housing in hopes of bringing costs down and making it more accessible, even when they stop short of eliminating single-family zoning altogether. Massachusetts, for example, is currently implementing rules that require cities to allow multifamily housing in areas near transit stations. Connecticut passed a law last year allowing accessory dwelling units, also known as backyard flats or “granny pods,” on many single-family lots. The Biden administration has floated several policy proposals that would create incentives for cities that permit more housing density as well. 

There are good reasons to allow more housing in single-family zoned areas, and few good reasons not to, says Lo. If nothing else, the new laws will provide lots of new opportunities to study the effects of zoning changes on housing supply and housing costs. 

The benefits of ending single-family zoning may take time to come to fruition, as Minneapolis has found in the last few years. And so far, the movement to end single-family zoning is confined to progressive cities. The next frontier, Lo says, is wealthy suburban areas where affordable housing is especially scarce. Removing zoning barriers in those areas would create more housing choices for everyone, she says. 

“Breaking into exclusive suburbs—that’s where I think we’re going to find a lot more easy affordability,” Lo says. 

The post A Major Barrier to Affordable Housing is Finally Falling appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Social housing 1960’s

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 12/02/2022 - 9:49am in

Social housing, 1960’s era. Fully occupied. Rozelle.

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