To solve America's housing crisis, build public housing

You know what works better than giving tax-credits to property developers, or mandating a few poor-door accessible affordable housing units in a new luxury high rise? Just building affordable housing on public land that's publicly managed. Read the rest

Toronto's real estate market is imploding

Toronto is one of the many great world cities that has been rendered nearly unlivable by real-estate speculation, both from onshore investors and offshore ones. Read the rest

Yale student who secretly lived in ventilation shaft

In college and grad school, I knew several students who couldn't afford housing and "lived" in the student lounges (showering in the rec center) and one guy who pitched a tent in the hills near campus. But this story of Allan Kornfeld who lived in a Yale ventilation shaft from 1963 to 1964 is the closest I've seen to Lazlo Hollyfeld's secret lair in the classic 1985 film Real Genius.

Kornfeld had hidden the entrance to the ventilation shift by covering the entrance with brick-patterned wallpaper. He left his DIY dorm room after graduation and shared his story with the press.

"It was a little cold," he said.

More at Weird Universe: "Unauthorized dwelling at Yale"

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Artist transforms London garage into quirky firetrap

Not to rain on anyone's parade, but this whimsical artist's home featured on Barcroft TV looks as if it breaks pretty much every building code in the book. Read the rest

Inside Hong Kong's insanely cramped and illegal "coffin homes"

Photographer Benny Lam spent several years documenting grim living conditions in Hong Kong where people live inside tiny "coffin cubicles" within illegally divided apartments. The images are grim glimpses of life in the city with the most expensive housing market in the world. The photo series is titled "Trapped." From National Geographic:

Pushed out by soaring rents, tens of thousands of people have no other option than to inhabit squatter huts, sub-divided units where the kitchen and toilet merge, coffin cubicles, and cage homes, which are rooms measuring as small as 6’ x 2.5’ traditionally made of wire mesh. “From cooking to sleeping, all activities take place in these tiny spaces,” says Lam. To create the coffin cubicles a 400 square flat will be illegally divided by its owner to accommodate 20 double-decker beds, each costing about HK$2000 (over $250 USD) per month in rent. The space is too small to stand up in.

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The once-dreamed wonders of trailer life

Trailers have a mostly negative reputation, these days, drawing working-class resentment and middle-class contempt. But they once embodied a compact, affordable rendition of the American Dream. So let's talk about "Tiny Houses" and how it navigates a stigma that must end...

The trailer-trash myth took off after World War II, when soldiers coming back from the war were faced with a housing shortage. Much of the travel-trailer and mobile-home industry got its jumpstart at that time. Confronting the housing situation, a lot of returning servicemen chose to move into RVs and mobile homes, at least for the short-term. It’s unfortunate that our veterans were also then associated with this notion of being “trailer trash.” In the ’40s, people living in “regular” homes also looked upon those in RVs and mobile homes as “trailer trash” because they had to go to the outhouse or the campground wash facilities just to use the toilet. We have hundreds of postcards in our trailer-themed collection just about outhouses.

Trailers are stigmatized because the poor can afford them, and when the first generation of Tiny House dwellers start selling up in earnest, Tiny Houses will be stigmatized too. Read the rest

Vancouver housing co-op rescinds family's apartment because unborn child is a girl

Kristjan Gottfried and Michelle Hurtig were first the waiting list for Vancouver's Marina Housing Co-operative, a nonprofit when the volunteer co-chair of the admissions board told them that their new home couldn't be confirmed until they found out the sex of their unborn baby. When they found out they were having a girl, they were refused a place to live. Read the rest

Downtown LA: high vacancy rates and catastrophic homelessness

Downtown LA's vacancy rate is 12%, which is the highest it's been since 2000 and triple the overall rate for LA -- and downtown LA is also the site of LA's skid row, whose population surged by 20% last year, thanks to a dramatic increase in homelessness among veterans and under-24s. Read the rest

Living Tiny

This week on HOME: Stories From L.A., a member of the Boing Boing Podcast Network:

HGTV and glossy magazines have sparked a boomlet of interest in tiny homes, but they've also made them look fun, cute and easy. The realities of a tiny lifestyle can be more daunting. Municipalities often don't know what to make of tiny houses, and living in one legally is, in many places, challenging. There's a lack of infrastructure for people who want to build them. And although they're in many ways an imaginative solution to some of the most vexing urban housing issues, they don't yet have a high profile in cities. Is there a place for tiny homes in Los Angeles? One woman thinks so, and has founded a collective of like-minded people to make it happen.

Photo by Ben Chun: Creative Commons

This is the fourth episode of Season 5. You can catch up on the whole series at the iTunes Store. While you're there, please take a second to leave the show a rating and review. And you can subscribe right here:  

iTunes | Android | Email | Google Play | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSS Read the rest

Trump's no-experience, fake-degree wedding planner will be in charge of billions in NYC housing spending

Lynne Patton has no experience with housing policy, claims to have a law degree from a university that says she dropped out after two semesters, claims an affiliation with Yale that no one can explain, and is implicated in the Eric Trump charity scam that directed cash earmarked for children's cancer research into the Trump Organization's pockets -- and as of July 5, she'll oversee billions in spending in the New York housing authorities. On the plus side, she reportedly did a great job as Eric Trump's wedding-planner. Read the rest

What a new house in Tokyo looks like

Life Where I'm From has a tour of a 4LDK (4 bedroom, living room, dining room, kitchen) in Tokyo. Cost is about $480,000. I love that magnetic door stopper, and the high tech toilet. Read the rest

Underground city made from old opal mines has 3,500 residents

Coober Pedy is an Australian mining town with such an extensive labyrinth of depleted opal mines that half the town's residents live underground. There are bookstores, churches, and other public spaces. Read the rest

Survive the coming apocalypse inside a big pipe buried underground

Atlas Survival Shelters sells huge corrugated pipe shelters outfitted for living with air filtration systems, Co2 scrubbers, and power generators. A 10' x 20' shelter goes for $30-$40,000 and the "Hillside Retreat," a 10' x 51', runs as high as $109,000. Options include a big screen TV, electric fireplace, oak flooring, hatch camouflaged as a boulder, and many other fine amenities. From their pitch:

The only bunkers manufactured today that has actually been tested against the effects of a nuclear bomb and has passed, is the round corrugated pipe shelters (used in the 1950s) by the U.S. Army Corps of Enginneers..

The round shape worked then and still works today! There is little difference between the bunkers made 50 years ago and the bunkers made today except the addition of modern interiors, NBC air filtration systems, Co2 scrubbers, generators, and high-tech electronics. There is no other shape other then round that will allow you to reach the depth underground that you need for maximum protection for your family and to allow the climate to be controlled underground.

"Beware the Square". No pre-manufactured square metal bunkers passed the nuclear test and should only be regarded as a fallout shelter or tornado shelter at best!

Atlas Survival Shelters (via Uncrate)

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Free trade lowers prices -- but not on things poor people need (and it pushes up housing prices)

Part of the economic argument for free trade deals is that they benefit workers by producing cheaper goods -- even if you lose your manufacturing job, you can buy stuff a lot cheaper with the next job you get. Read the rest

What kind of house $300,000 can buy around the world

Want to see what kind of house $300k will buy in Finland, Greece, Dominican Republic, Russia, Portugal, Brazil, Italy, Montenegro, Spain, USA, Turkey, France, Croatia, and Indonesia (above)? Check out the photos below:

What kind of house $300,000 can buy around the world.

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New York's stately libraries sport hidden apartments for live-in caretakers

For the first half of the 20th Century, it was common for New York's libraries to have live-in superintendents, whose families would live on-site in hidden apartments -- the last one of these apartments wasn't vacated until 2006. Read the rest

Low income US households get $0.08/month in Fed housing subsidy; 0.1%ers get $1,236

America is in the grips of one of the worst housing crises in its history, with 1 in 3 households spending more than 30% of their income on mortgage or rent payments; the US government has two kinds of housing subsidy, one for poor renters and the other intended for middle-income mortgage payers, but guess who gets most of the money? Read the rest

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