Housing

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Priority actions for the next federal housing minister

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 29/04/2022 - 4:58am in

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Housing, Politics

Housing is yet again up there as a major concern in this year’s federal election debate. Given the rising cost of putting a roof over your head in today’s Australia, that’s hardly surprising. Buying a home will now set you back 30% more than at the start of the Morrison government’s current term in office. Continue reading »

People Hosting Ukrainian Refugees Still Subject to Bedroom Tax, Government Confirms

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 29/04/2022 - 2:51am in

Public housing tenants will still face spare bedroom penalties – even if that bedroom is used to host a Ukrainian refugee, reports Sascha Lavin

Social housing tenants will still be hit by the bedroom tax, even if they are participating in the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme, the Byline Intelligence Team can reveal.

According to a recent parliamentary question, almost half a million people who have been paying the so-called 'bedroom tax' will continue to be charged – even if their additional room is filled by a Ukrainian refugee seeking sanctuary under the Government scheme allowing volunteers to host individuals in their home. 

The controversial tax – officially known as the spare room subsidy – was introduced by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition Government and punishes social housing tenants for having a spare room in their home. 

A tenant affected by the bedroom tax could lose up to £25 a week, according to 2015 estimates – a quarter of the £350 tax-free monthly Government payment handed out to all Homes for Ukraine hosts.  

Boris Johnson promised that the new scheme would be “a route by which everybody in this country can offer a home to people fleeing Ukraine” – but the very poorest face an additional barrier if they want to have the same “rewarding” and “humbling experience” as former Government minister Robert Jenrick by participating in the scheme.

Last week, Minister for Welfare Delivery, David Rutley, made it clear that people liable for the bedroom tax would continue to lose out on the spare room subsidy, despite their spare room being filled by Ukrainian refugees fleeing Putin’s invasion. 

In response to a parliamentary question by Labour MP Anneliese Dodds, Rutley said: “Under the Homes for Ukraine Scheme the Ukrainian nationals are treated as not normally residing with their host. This means that there is no change to the number of bedrooms which the claimant is entitled to under the removal of the spare room subsidy.”

When Levelling-Up Secretary Michael Gove introduced the Homes for Ukraine scheme, he reminded the House of Commons of the UK’s “long and proud history of supporting the most vulnerable during their darkest hours”. 

But the punitive bedroom tax has done the very opposite: domestic violence survivors have been penalised for having a police-adapted panic room, and disabled people have been fined for requiring a room for medical equipment. 

The Homes for Ukraine small-print shows that, in Boris Johnson’s broken Britain, no good deed goes unpunished while no bad deeds – crony contracts and lockdown breaches – are punished.  

The Department for Work and Pensions was approached for comment and reiterated the response offered by David Rutley.

This article was produced by the Byline Intelligence Team – a collaborative investigative project formed by Byline Times with The Citizens. If you would like to find out more about the Intelligence Team and how to fund its work, click on the button below.

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The Shocking Divides Between London and the Rest of Britain

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 28/04/2022 - 8:30pm in

Sam Bright details some of the key findings from his new book, on the extreme imbalances between London and other parts of the country

Modern British politics can only be properly understood in the context of regional inequality. Both Brexit and the 2019 General Election, we have come to understand, were outbursts of rage from older, poorer, less well educated voters in rural and former industrial areas who are sick of the status quo – of their areas deteriorating while other places prosper.

However, while much of this conversation focuses on the ‘Red Wall’ and the fabled north-south divide, a formative regional inequality in Britain has been neglected: between London and everywhere else.

Indeed, our all-consuming capital is a vast metropolis with little in common with other urban areas. Its education system, economic output, housing market and demographic make-up are all radically different to the rest of the country – creating acute imbalances that are suffered by people both inside and outside the capital.

I have been researching this subject for the past few years, culminating in my book, published today, Fortress London: Why We Need to Save the Country From its Capital. Below is a snapshot of what I discovered.

Economy

Productivity in London, measured in terms of Gross Value Added, is 30% above the England-wide average, and 40% above the lowest-performing regions.

Gross disposable household income per head in London was £30,256 in 2018 – nearly double the total in Yorkshire and the Humber (£17,959). Ergo, for every minute on the roughly two-hour train journey from the capital to God’s own country, household income per head falls by £102. 

In 2017, disposable income per head in east Germany was €19,909 per year; in west Germany it was €23,283 – a smaller economic gap than between London and the rest of the UK.

The UK’s most productive region, west inner London, has an income per hour that is 70% higher than Northumberland’s, while London and the wider south-east are the only regions that are more productive than the UK average.

As of 2018, London accounted for 30% of all private sector employment in the UK, despite its population representing roughly 15% of the national total.

From 2009/10 to 2019/20, London transport spending per head on average has been £864 – compared to £379 in the north-west of England and £413 in England overall.

Education

Kids on free school meals in London are twice as likely to go to university as their socioeconomic peers in the north.

Overall, 49% of students in London go to university, compared with roughly 35% in every other English region. 

In the most deprived areas of London, 35% of secondary schools are classified as outstanding and close to 90% are either good or outstanding. In the most deprived areas of the north, less than 10% are rated as outstanding and less than 50% are either good or outstanding.

There are eight parliamentary constituencies in England where there are no schools or sixth form colleges – either independent or state-run – offering A-Levels. Six of these constituencies are in the north.

Property Market

In 2020, the average house price in London stood at £497,000 – almost double the England-wide average of £262,000. In Yorkshire, the figure was £175,000, in the north-west £177,000, and £275,000 in the south-west.

The average house price in Kensington and Chelsea in March 2020 was £1.4 million, in Islington it was £632,000 and in Southwark it was £489,000. This compares to £200,000 in Manchester, £220,000 in Leeds and just £165,000 in Durham.

If two people each bought a house in 1980 for £50,000 – one in London and one in Yorkshire – the former would have accumulated £400,000 more in property assets by 2020, with the house likely to be worth £770,000 in London and the house in Yorkshire worth £380,000.

If food prices had tracked house price inflation, in London a chicken would now cost £100, says Anna Minton in Big Capital.

Since 2010, average private rental prices in London have grown at five times the rate of average earnings. The typical rent for a one-bed flat in London now exceeds the cost on average for a three-bed place in every other English region.

In London, a home within 500 metres of an outstanding primary school will set you back an average of £685,000 – a premium of £93,000 versus a home in close proximity to a ‘good’ school and £196,000 more, on average, than a home in the catchment of a school that ‘requires improvement’.

Total property equity in London and the south-east amounts to some £1.53 trillion, versus £533 billion in the north.

In 1990, 25% of people aged 16 to 24 owned their own home in London, falling to 7% by 2018; correlating with a fall in the 25-34 age bracket from 57% to 34% over the same period.

From 1996-98 to 2014-15, the capital saw a 41% increase in young people living with their parents.

The percentage of first-time buyers in the capital receiving parental help has fluctuated in recent years between 25% and 40% – consistently 10 percentage points higher than the rest of England.

Almost 25,000 London homes were left unoccupied in 2020 – the highest figure since 2012 – at an estimated total worth of £11 billion. Homelessness and rough sleeping rates rose by 165% in England between 2010 and 2018.

Transparency International has calculated that at least £6.7 billion worth of property in the UK has been bought with suspicious wealth since 2016 – more than 80% purchased in London. Out of the £6.7 billion, £1.5 billion has been bought by Russians accused of corruption or links to the Kremlin, with these individuals favouring the City of Westminster (accounting for £430 million, or 28.3%) and Kensington and Chelsea (£283 million or 18.8%).

Poverty

The number of people living in poverty in London (some 2.5 million) is only slightly smaller than the entire population of Greater Manchester.

Life expectancy is some 16 years lower for men in the most deprived areas of Kensington and Chelsea than in the least deprived areas.

The poorest 50% of Londoners hold just 6.8% of the capital’s wealth, while the top 10% retain 42.5%.

As of 2020, 28% of people in London were living in poverty, after housing costs, compared to 22% in the UK as a whole.

Some 74% of impoverished adults in the capital are in working families, up from 62% a decade ago. In the three years to 2016, 39% of private renters in London and 46% of social renters were in poverty, falling to 12% among owner-occupiers.

From 2014 to 2019, the number of children in the north of England living in a poor household increased by 200,000 – taking the total figure to 800,000. Over the same period, weekly pay increased by only 2.4% in the north versus 3.5% nationally.

Child poverty increased by 16% in the Red Wall from 2014/15 to 2019/20 – double the England-wide average. Child poverty in the north-east increased from 26% to 36.9 per cent in this period, while it fell in the south-east, from 24% to 23.8%, and only marginally increased in the south-west – from 26% to 26.1%.

Sam Bright’s book, ‘Fortress London: Why We Need to Save the Country From its Capital’, is published by HarperCollins

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Renters Hit Hardest by Cost of Living Crisis

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 28/04/2022 - 6:00pm in

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that renters are more likely to be struggling to make ends meet than those with mortgages

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Renters are being hit hardest by the cost of living crisis, new data has revealed, with homeowners more likely to be protected from rising costs.

Data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that a greater percentage of renters (37%) found it “very difficult” or “difficult” to pay their usual household bills compared to a year ago – while the percentage of mortgagors was lower, at 23%. 

Renters are also more likely to have seen their housing costs increase since the cost of living crisis began to bite. 

Between 16 and 27 March 2022, a third (34%) of renters reported that their rent had increased in the previous six months. This was compared with just under a fifth (19%) of those with mortgages who saw their mortgage bills go up. 

Homeowners tend to be more protected from rising housing costs as many will be on fixed-term mortgages or own their homes outright. Renters, meanwhile, are vulnerable to rent hikes from landlords. 

A spokesperson from the union ACORN told Byline Times that, while “the cost of living crisis is affecting everyone, it’s no surprise to see that renters are disproportionately footing the bill".

They said the organisation has seen many more people approaching it due to rent rises in recent months. "Only last week, a member in Manchester reported a rent hike of 33%, but this is far from a unique example," the spokesperson added. "At the same time, wages and housing benefit remain largely stagnant.” 

March 2022 also saw the largest annual increase in private rental prices paid by tenants in the UK since July 201, at 2.4%.

“Unless the Government takes this growing crisis seriously and urgently puts in place measures to safeguard tenants, we will soon see the number of people struggling to pay rent quickly turn into more people being evicted from their homes,” they added.

“Not only is this devastating for an individual renter or a family caught in this situation, but it will also be devastating for wider society due the cost and damage inflicted by the subsequent homelessness crisis.”

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Housing Woes

As rents increase, the quality of housing and rental standards have failed to keep up.

According to data published in 2020 by the housing charity Shelter, private renting is making millions of people ill. Almost half of England’s renters experienced stress or anxiety, and a quarter were made physically sick as a result of their housing. 

In England, the majority of renters have a private rather than social landlord, with more than 4.4 million households renting their home from a private landlord in 2019/20. This equates to just under a fifth of all homes in England. These households represent around 11 million people and the number of people living in rented accommodation has more than doubled since 1997.

Research published by the House of Commons Library found that the private rented sector has the “worst housing conditions” compared to council houses and homes occupied by their owners.

English Housing estimated that, in 2019, 23% of private rentals did not meet the 'decent home standard' – approximately 1.1 million homes. In comparison, 18% of owner-occupied homes and 12% of social-rented homes did.

Privately-rented homes were also more likely to have at least one 'category one hazard' under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System – such as damp and mould growth, unsafe stairs or surfaces, and pests. This can have an impact on health and wellbeing. 

Poor housing costs money. Living in damp, cold or unhealthy conditions can have profound physical and psychological effects on individuals, especially children. One estimate puts the cost of poor housing to the NHS at £1.4 billion per year in England.

A Wider Crisis

Across the board, 87% of adults reported an increase in their cost of living last month – an increase of 25% compared with around 6 in 10 (62%) adults in November 2021. This reflects the rising cost of energy, housing, and food, as inflation hit 6.2% in February. 

Households in the most deprived areas of the UK were more likely to be struggling with costs – with 34% saying it was “difficult” or “very difficult” to pay their usual household bills. This was double the number of people struggling to make ends meet in the least deprived areas, at 17%. 

While the majority are keeping their heads above water, 3% claimed to now be behind on rent or mortgage payments, with nearly half a million people behind on their rent. 

While the proportion of people turning to credit has remained relatively stable – in part because wealthier households have dipped into savings to cover unexpected costs and bills – the picture is very different for those in the most deprived English regions. 

Nearly a quarter (23%) of households in the poorest areas of the country reported that they had borrowed more money than a year ago. They were also more likely to report that they would be unable to save money over the next 12 months – 55% would not be able to save, compared to 34% living in the least deprived areas.  

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Expected Home Price Increases Accelerate over the Short Term but Remain Stable over the Medium Term

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 20/04/2022 - 4:53am in

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Housing

 Still life of a keyring with keys, a small house and red price tag on turquoise colored background

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s 2022 SCE Housing Survey shows that expected changes in home prices in the year ahead increased relative to the corresponding timeframe in the February 2021 survey, while five-year expectations remained unchanged. Households reported that they would be less likely to buy if they were to move compared to the year-ago survey, marking the first annual decline since the series began in 2014. This drop was driven by current renters, who were much less likely to buy compared to renters in the 2021 survey. Renters also reported that they expect rents to be sharply higher twelve months from now, with the expected rate of increase more than twice that reported a year ago. The expected price of rent five years ahead also rose compared to expectations a year ago, but at a more moderate pace. 

The SCE Housing Survey

This latest survey marks the ninth installment of the annual SCE Housing Survey, which has been fielded every February since 2014 and is part of the broader Survey of Consumer Expectations. The 2022 survey includes 1,242 respondents, about one-quarter of whom are current renters while the remaining three-quarters are homeowners. Results are presented in the SCE Housing Survey interactive web feature, which shows time trends for variables of interest for the overall sample as well as for various demographic groups, including separate splits for owners and renters. For further information on the SCE, please refer to an overview of the survey methodology, the interactive chart guide, and the survey questionnaire.

The primary goal of the SCE Housing Survey is to provide rich, high-quality information on consumers’ experiences, behavior, and expectations related to housing. The survey collects data on households’ perceptions and expectations for changes in home prices and rents, as well as their intentions regarding moving and buying in the future, perceptions of mortgage rates, and the ease of obtaining a mortgage. The survey also elicits preferences for owning and renting, and contains geographic information to study variation in responses.

One-Year Home Price Expectations Accelerate, Five-Year Expectations Unchanged

Survey respondents estimated the value of a typical home in their zip code and reported their expected value of that home in one and five years. The evolution of home price expectations, annualized at the five-year horizon, is shown in the chart below.

Households Expect Strong Home Price Growth in the Short Term

Source: SCE Housing Survey.

The expected change in home prices over the next year rose relative to twelve months earlier, with households expecting home prices in their zip code to rise by 7.0 percent on average, compared to 5.7 percent in February 2021. This increase, despite an increase in mortgage rates nationally since summer 2021, reflects strong momentum in home prices over the past eighteen months. In contrast, five-year expectations remained unchanged, with households expecting an annualized growth rate of 2.2 percent. The divergence in one- and five-year expectations suggests that households foresee strong home price growth in the short term, but that prices will moderate in the longer term.

The divergence in households’ one- and five-year home price expectations was broad-based across age and education groups but was most pronounced for households with annual income of less than $60,000. Despite significant outward migration from urban centers since the onset of the pandemic (Ramani and Bloom, 2021), urban and rural households reported similar home price expectations over the short and medium term. We also found no major differences in the short- and medium-term home price expectations between owners and renters.

The divergence of one-and five-year home price expectations is consistent with households expecting mortgage rates to continue to increase in the near term. We asked respondents what they thought the average mortgage interest rate on a thirty-year fixed-rate mortgage was today, and what they thought it will be in one and three years. Respondents reported higher one- and three-year expected mortgage rates relative to pre-pandemic levels. The expected 8.23 percent rate in three years is the highest level in the series’ nine-year history.

Average Perceived National Mortgage Rate


Feb 2020
Feb 2022

Today
5.88
5.86

In one year
6.06
6.68

In three years
7.13
8.23

Source: SCE Housing Survey.

To assess whether the expected slowdown in home prices over the medium term is due to a shift in attitudes regarding the attractiveness of housing as an investment, we asked respondents how likely they would be to buy as opposed to renting if they were to move over the next three years. Households also reported that they would be less likely to buy if they were to move compared to a year ago. This was the first annual decline in this series since the survey began in 2014, and was driven by current renters, who were about 10 percentage points less likely to buy compared to renters in the February 2021 survey. We also asked respondents how they viewed the attractiveness of housing as an investment relative to other financial investments. The fraction stating that housing is a “good” or “very good” investment fell slightly to 71.0 percent, compared to its series high of 73.6 percent in February 2021.

Renters Are Less Likely to Buy if They Were to Move in Next Three Years

Source: SCE Housing Survey.

Renters Becoming More Pessimistic about Housing Market as Expected Rents Spike

To understand why renters report being less likely to buy if they were to move, we asked how changes in home prices over the past year have affected their housing plans. Twenty-two percent of households reported that they had planned to purchase a home but now view renting as a better financial decision. About 13 percent of respondents stated that the recent increase in home prices had prompted them to speed up their search to purchase a home over the past year. However, the majority of respondents either preferred to rent (36 percent) or said they were waiting for prices to come down before buying (42 percent). We also asked renters how likely it was that they would own a home at some point in the future. The average likelihood fell below 50 percent for the first time in the series’ history.

Renters See a Lower Likelihood of Ever Owning a Home

Source: SCE Housing Survey.

If renters previously on the margin of purchasing a home no longer find homeownership as appealing, a key question becomes how are expectations of rental prices evolving? We asked respondents to estimate the rental value of a typical home or apartment in their zip code, and what they think the rent will be one and five years from today.

Households Expect Large Rent Increases in the Short Term

Source: SCE Housing Survey.

Households expect a sharp rise in rents over the next twelve months: on average, respondents expect rents to increase by 11.5 percent, compared to 6.6 percent in the February 2021 survey. This increase was even more pronounced among current renters, who expect rents to rise by 12.8 percent one year from now compared to 5.9 percent one year ago. This is consistent with the idea that short-term rent expectations are being shaped by the sharp increases in rent that have occurred in recent months. The expected price of rent five years from now rose to an annualized increase of 5.2 percent, compared to 4.4 percent a year ago.

Finally, we are also releasing a chart packet that describes our sample and presents summary statistics for many more questions that were asked in the survey. This year’s survey also included special modules on climate change and evictions, which we will write about in the near future.

Fatima-Ezzahra Boumahdi is a senior research analyst in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Research and Statistics Group.

Leo Goldman is a senior research analyst in the Bank’s Research and Statistics Group.

Andrew Haughwout is a senior vice president in the Bank’s Research and Statistics Group.

Ben Hyman is an economist in the Bank’s Research and Statistics Group.

Haoyang Liu is a senior research economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Jason Somerville is an economist in the Bank’s Research and Statistics Group.

Disclaimer
The views expressed in this post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve System. Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the authors.

Canada’s 2022 federal budget

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 19/04/2022 - 10:18pm in

Canada’s 2022 federal budget had a very strong housing focus. I’ve written a ‘top 10’ overview of the budget here: https://nickfalvo.ca/canadas-2022-federal-budget-was-a-housing-budget/

Canada’s 2022 federal budget

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 19/04/2022 - 10:18pm in

Canada’s 2022 federal budget had a very strong housing focus. I’ve written a ‘top 10’ overview of the budget here: https://nickfalvo.ca/canadas-2022-federal-budget-was-a-housing-budget/

Recycling Uplifts a Refugee Camp

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/04/2022 - 1:37am in

Three great stories we found on the internet this week.

Recycling delivered

In refugee camps, supplies flow in, and waste builds up. Disposing of this waste is often difficult, and recycling is usually off the table. At refugee camps on the western border of Algeria, however, a new system for sustainably processing plastic waste is giving the camp’s residents an economic activity to support them.

Credit: Precious Plastic

Put in place by Precious Plastic, a Dutch startup working through the UN’s refugee agency, the system arrives at refugee camps packed in a shipping container, ready to go. It includes machines to shred, wash and dry plastic, and to melt it or press it into large, flat sheets that can be assembled into furniture. Some of these materials are then sold to NGOs that serve the refugee camp itself, which make them into school desks, benches, chairs and serving sets for tea. What’s more, the UN pays the camp’s residents to work at the recycling center for a year; after that, they become part owners in it.

“It’s almost like an island context — a somewhat closed ecosystem,” said the managing director of Precious Plastic. “There’s an opportunity to try to create a circular economy within that community.”

Read more at Fast Company

Trust the gut

Obsessed with your gut’s microbiome? Obsess over this: rivers have a microbiome too, and it may be key to reviving urban waterways.

Urban rivers across the world have taken a beating since the dawn of industrialization. In Seattle, for instance, streams that once ran thick with salmon were nearly devoid of them by 1990s. Around 2004, however, the city started restoring the “hyporheic zones” of these waterways — the layer of sediment just below the stream bed that teems with life. Some scientists call this zone “the liver of the river” because it functions somewhat like the human microbiome, in that its health can dramatically affect the rest of the organism. 

Seattle’s Thornton Creek. Credit: Wikipedia

The city first tried restoring the hyporheic zone of Thornton Creek, which had been reshaped by development and often flooded with industrial chemicals. They were astounded to discover that rejuvenating even tiny stretches of this zone had dramatic effects. In one case, a 15-foot stretch of restored microbes reduced 78 percent of the water’s pollutants by at least half. The creek has also stopped flooding during storms, and its temperature is more consistent. Now, hyporheic restoration has become a formal part of Seattle’s creek projects. 

“That was just really emotional,” recalls one of the scientists of the Thornton Creek restoration project. “We had done it. You can restore the hyporheic zone. You can restore natural processes to the extent that we are actually attracting salmon to the site to spawn.”

Read more at Scientific American

What’s old is new

In Mexico City, a vecindad is a kind of tenement building with apartments that share kitchens and bathrooms arranged around a central courtyard. Though these buildings were originally constructed as grandiose homes for European aristocrats, today they more often house the city’s large and growing working class.

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CityLab takes a journey through history to examine how these buildings — and their inhabitants — have changed over the centuries to ultimately become an important source of affordable housing. “There’s this mystique” around vecindades said one professor of architecture. “Of romances happening there, of the matriarch of the vecindad taking care of the kids, of people coming to her for advice and food. They would share bathrooms and areas where they do the washing, and that’s something that would create community.”

Read more at Bloomberg CityLab

The post Recycling Uplifts a Refugee Camp appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

What causes homelessness?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 11/04/2022 - 10:59pm in

I’m writing an open access e-textbook on homelessness. Each chapter will be uploaded to my website as it becomes available. I’ve just finished Chapter 1 titled “What causes homelessness?”

A ‘top 10’ overview of Chapter 1 is available here (in English): https://nickfalvo.ca/what-causes-homelessness/

An ‘top 10’ overview in French is available here: https://nickfalvo.ca/quest-ce-qui-cause-litinerance/

The full chapter is available here (English only): https://nickfalvo.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Falvo-Chapter-1-What-causes-homelessness-4apr2022.pdf

What causes homelessness?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 11/04/2022 - 10:59pm in

I’m writing an open access e-textbook on homelessness. Each chapter will be uploaded to my website as it becomes available. I’ve just finished Chapter 1 titled “What causes homelessness?”

A ‘top 10’ overview of Chapter 1 is available here (in English): https://nickfalvo.ca/what-causes-homelessness/

An ‘top 10’ overview in French is available here: https://nickfalvo.ca/quest-ce-qui-cause-litinerance/

The full chapter is available here (English only): https://nickfalvo.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Falvo-Chapter-1-What-causes-homelessness-4apr2022.pdf

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