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The First Rainbow Coalition | Season 21 Episode 6 | Independent Lens | PBS
"In 1969, the Chicago Black Panther Party formed alliances across ethnic and racial lines with other community-based movements in the city, including Latino group the Young Lords and southern whites the Young Patriots. Banding together in one of postwar America's most segregated cities to confront issues like police brutality and substandard housing, they called themselves the Rainbow Coalition."
rainbowcoalition  blackpanthers  blackpantherparty  1968  1969  chicago  patriotism  us  history  race  ethnicity  younglords  youngpatriots  segregation  policebrutality  housing  resistance  freedom  liberation  solidarity  education  inequality  urbanrenewal  urbanism  socialjustice  socialism  join  risingupangry  fredhampton  bobbylee  self-defense  revolution  organizing  cointelpro  oppression  fascism  exploitation 
24 days ago by robertogreco
Ep. 20: The Half Baked Politics of Half Measures (feat. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor) by RUMBLE with MICHAEL MOORE • A podcast on Anchor
[also here:
https://player.fm/series/rumble-with-michael-moore/ep-20-the-half-baked-politics-of-half-measures-feat-keeanga-yamahtta-taylor
https://open.spotify.com/episode/6YcwDWPeMrcZ9DfBN3cMFX ]

“The failures of liberal half measures, compromise and “third way” politics has opened the door for right-wing demagogues to take power. It has also re-awakened a militant and energized left to combat both the wackadoodle right and the tepid center. We’re seeing this play out in American politics and the 2020 Democratic primary. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor is a scholar, author and activist. Her writing and speaking has incisively and ferociously exposed the failures of capitalism and the necessity of a fierce struggle to overcome it. She joins Michael to discuss how the hell we got here and how we liberate ourselves.

**********

“Five Years Later, Do Black Lives Matter?” https://jacobinmag.com/2019/09/black-lives-matter-laquan-mcdonald-mike-brown-eric-garner

“How Real Estate Segregated America” https://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/how-real-estate-segregated-america-fair-housing-act-race

Read about and order Keeanga’s books here: http://www.keeangataylor.com/books.html

Follow Keeanga on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/KeeangaYamahtta
keeanga-yamahttataylor  politics  us  berniesanders  2020  statusquo  power  organizing  barackobama  notmeus  hope  change  revolution  socialmovements  interdependence  interconnectedness  michaelmoore  elections  thirdway  blacklivesmatter  housing  healthcare  medicareforall  capitalism  neoliberalism  latecapitalism  socialism  flint  michigan  segregation  democrats  congress  corruption  centrism  moderates  moreofthesame  struggle  policy  inequality  joebiden  donaldtrump  hillaryclinton  cynicism  troydavis  poverty  elitism  rulingclass 
28 days ago by robertogreco
The Anonymous Companies That Buy Up Homes | KQED News
“Even if you can afford to buy a home in the Bay Area, you might get outbid by an anonymous shell company paying cash. Over the years, more American homes have been bought up by these companies, with fewer and fewer homes being owned by individuals and families.

And on top of that, we don’t even know who owns all of these properties. But the U.S. Treasury Department does - and the folks at Reveal are suing for that information.

Guest: Aaron Glantz, senior reporter at Reveal and author of the book “Homewreckers.” Check out more on Reveal’s ongoing lawsuit here.

We’re doing meetups in all nine Bay Area counties this year! Our first one is in Vallejo. Come hang out with us at Mare Island Brewing tap room near the ferry building on Friday, Feb. 7 between 5-7 p.m.

Interview Highlights

KQED’s Devin Katayama: First off, tell me why we’re standing in front of this house on Delano Avenue [in San Francisco's Balboa Park neighborhood].

Aaron Glantz: We’re standing in front of this house at 66 Delano Avenue because it’s one of many, many homes all across the country that have been bought up by shell companies where we don’t really know who the owner is.

If you look around and you wonder, why can’t I buy this house? Why can’t I buy any house? A lot of the time it’s because it’s been bought by a shell company.

A distant landlord owning a building like this instead of somebody who lives in it means that the building can sit empty, boarded up with a fence around it and get no attention for a long time, because Mr. LLC doesn’t walk up and down this block and see this burnt out building every day.

Is this pretty common? For houses owned by shell companies to just be sitting empty?

Well, I mean, this is one of the things that we don’t have a good understanding of. There are a lot of theories about who is buying up our real estate. Are we talking about Silicon Valley techies? Are we talking about international money from China and Russia? You know, are we talking about Airbnb? Are we talking about people just parking their money? We don’t really know. There’s a lot of unanswered questions. And that’s why Reveal has gone to court, suing the Treasury Department to get answers to some of those questions.

What’s the benefit of creating a shell company to own all these homes?

Well, the statute creating shell companies was created many years ago, and was actually created to help an oil company in the Rockies that had oil rigs in Central America. And it wanted to limit its liability in the case that something happened on those oil facilities in Panama.

So, LLC stands for limited liability company. They wanted to distance their liability for whatever happened in Panama to the company back in the Rockies. Over the years, however, this has been used by real estate moguls to amass property and hide the true source of their money from the public.

You have speculators like Wedgewood, right? You have bigger real estate investment trusts like the ones I spotlight in “Homewreckers,” run by Tom Barrack and Steve Schwarzman and these big private equity funds. You have international investors parking their money. You have mom and pop landlords that would just prefer to operate behind a limited liability corporation.

What we don’t know is the proportion of all of these against each other, and who the most significant actors are. This basic transparency exists in countries all over the world. In Russia, in Ukraine, in Argentina, in Israel, you can go online and see who the money is behind anything, any beneficial owner of real estate. In America, we can’t.

How can we make smart policy about issues of homeownership and wealth in America, about housing and homelessness in America, if we don’t even know who’s buying up the buildings?

The Treasury Department has been asking for information about these beneficial owners. Then, when we - Reveal - asked for that same information from the Treasury Department using the Freedom of Information Act, they said no, they won’t give it to us. So that’s why we sued them.

And what we’re saying to the Treasury Department is look, if you want to redact individuals, Social Security Numbers or other legitimately private information - absolutely. But you cannot hide everything from the public.

You have to share the answer to this very basic question: Who’s the money behind this house that we’re standing in front of? And all of the other homes, millions of them around the country that are being bought up by shell companies?”
housing  2020  finance  homes  economics  anonymity  moms4housing  commoditization  aaronglantz  vallejo  sanfrancisco  legal  law  airbnb  wedgewood  tombarrack  steveschwarzman  russia  ukraine  argentina  israel  us  fincen 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Unmasking the secret landlords buying up America | Reveal
“America’s cities are being bought up, bit by bit, by anonymous shell companies using piles of cash. Modest single-family homes, owned for generations by families, now are held by corporate vehicles with names that appear to be little more than jumbles of letters and punctuation”

“All-cash transactions have come to account for a quarter of all residential real estate purchases, “totaling hundreds of billions of dollars nationwide,” the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network–the financial crimes unit of the federal Treasury Department, also known as FinCEN”

“The Census Bureau reports that nearly 3 million U.S. homes and 13 million apartment units are owned by LLC, LLP, LP or shell companies – levels of anonymous ownership not seen in American history.”

“The proportion of residential rental properties owned by individuals and families has fallen from 92% in 1991 to 74% in 2015.

The lack of transparency not only represents an opportunity for money laundering, but it also has more prosaic implications.”

“With anonymity comes impunity, and, for vulnerable tenants, skyrocketing numbers of evictions. It wasn’t until reporters… began to investigate… that residents living in hundreds of properties across the South learned that they shared a secret landlord… Sean Hannity.”

“Historically, in the US, the true owners of residential real estate properties have been publicly available through county recorders offices. However, for more than a decade, the proliferation of all-cash buys by shell companies has begun to obliterate that transparency.”

“Countries around the world have addressed this problem head on. … In the US, we’re on no such path to disclosure. A bipartisan anti-money-laundering bill, which passed the House in October, would require banks to systematically disclose the true owners of shell companies to FinCEN but would keep the public in the dark, stripping out all “personally identifiable information,” including anything “that would allow for the identification of a particular corporation or limited liability company.””
economics  finance  housing  2019  anonymity  ownership  homeownership  homes  impunity  legal  law  seanhannity  fincen  evictions  moneylaundering  property  argentina  australia  israel  jamaica  netherlands  russia  ukraine  aaronglantz 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
SB50 Could Make California Livable Again - The Atlantic
“You’ve probably never heard of the most economically transformative legislation of the Trump era. Granted, it has not yet passed and it might not pass. If it does, it would affect a large portion of Americans, but hardly all of them, unlike the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. And its potential effects are hotly contested by policy advocates, politicians, and economists.

Still, California Senate Bill 50, winding its way through the state legislature again this month, could generate tens of thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars of new investment, reshaping the geography of the biggest state and solving a large chunk of the cost-of-living crisis the Trump administration has assiduously avoided addressing by, essentially, forcing California communities to allow more construction.

It, or some version of it, desperately needs to pass. California has a hyperacute version of a problem affecting a number of states and, especially, metro regions within those states. Based on the housing-unit-to-population ratio in similarly wealthy and urban states, such as New York and New Jersey, California is short 2 million to 3.5 million housing units. (California has 358 homes per 1,000 people, whereas New York and New Jersey each have more than 400.) Right now, the state ranks 49th in units per capita, behind only Utah.

This deficiency has driven a cost-of-living crisis, leading to long commutes, desolate retail corridors, plunging net worths, bankruptcies, and shortages of child care, elder care, and other services. The average home in California sells for more than $600,000—far out of reach for many families. In San Francisco, the average sales price is $1.6 million. Spiking rents and hefty mortgage payments have worsened the state’s inequality, dimmed the economic prospects of millions and millions of families, and fueled the growth of the state’s homeless or housing-insecure population. There are 130,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given day in California, despite the state’s strong economic growth.

Any number of trends have collided to foster the housing shortage: surging income and wealth inequality, in-migration, growing construction costs. But in policy terms, there is one central culprit: zoning regulations, including local oversight rules. Neighborhoods have the ability to kibosh too many projects, and zoning rules favor sprawl over infill housing.

S.B. 50 would override local restrictions on building, letting developers create more housing and denser housing near train stations and high-frequency bus stops. Homeowners would be able to build accessory dwelling units or casitas; companies would be able to build small apartment complexes. The bill stalled in the California legislature last year. But earlier this month State Senator Scott Wiener announced changes that would give localities more flexibility in implementing the law, provided that they allow as much construction as S.B. 50 itself would allow, and would ensure that low-income residents get access to the new housing.

The bill is a technical one, steeped in arcana on parking requirements, height limits, and bus frequencies. But it would be a transformative one, both its detractors and its supporters agree. It would effectively disallow single-family zoning in many neighborhoods. It would force wealthy suburbs to permit the construction of apartment buildings and duplexes. And it would reorient the state’s growth away from sprawl toward infill. Housing would get more plentiful, and thus cheaper.

Its detractors sit in two camps. Tenants-rights groups and low-income-housing advocates argue that S.B. 50 would not do enough to create housing for the poor, and might supercharge displacement in neighborhoods where even high-income residents are seeing themselves priced out. “Incentivizing more luxury development and inflating property values in San Francisco will further exacerbate real estate speculation, which has already played a key role in displacing low and moderate-income tenants, immigrants, seniors and families across California,” argues the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco, which advocates for tenants.

Then there are the NIMBYs, who argue that S.B. 50 will destroy neighborhoods’ homegrown character, hurt home values, and harm the environment: Goodbye to green, single-family neighborhoods, and hello to traffic-gnarled, high-rise apartments. Livable California, for example, is warning that the legislation will turn “thousands of streets into free-for-alls where cities have NO planning powers.”

But S.B. 50 would not suddenly convert single-family neighborhoods into high-rise condo villages; it would merely stop some rich neighborhoods from disallowing multifamily housing. More to the point, it would stop neighborhoods from casting themselves in amber, preventing new building and forcing younger, poorer families to urban peripheries. As for the concerns about low-income housing and gentrification—they are fair. But California cannot fix its housing crisis without much, much, much more building, and fast.

If the bill passes, California would become denser, cheaper, greener, and more affordable—a state less centered on car culture, and more centered on walkable neighborhoods; less responsive to the aesthetic complaints of longtime property owners, more responsive to the needs of young families. The central economic crisis of the Trump years—high inequality, a shrinking middle class, and an excruciatingly high cost of living—would become less daunting. And California would be a lesson to other states whose residents are facing jumping rents and long commutes.”
housing  california  2020  sb50  annielowrey  law  density  scottweiner  sanfrancisco  losangeles  zoning  nimbyism  yimbyism  development  cities  urban  urbanism  publictransit  inequality  wealth  economics 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Khuôn Studio's Kontum House has handmade concrete facade
“Concrete blocks with triangular apertures allow light to filter into the rooms and courtyards of this house in Vietnam’s Central Highlands, designed by local architects office Khuôn Studio (+ slideshow).

Khuôn Studio co-founder Huynh Anh Tuan designed the single-storey property as a home for his sister and her husband.

The pair had a limited budget, so the cost of building materials had to be kept low. Because of this, the team developed a design for a bespoke concrete block that can be manufactured cheaply and easily by hand.

The couple cast over 1300 square blocks, to be used at different points around the building.

Each one is punctured by a triangular opening, so can be alternated to create geometric patterns.

“The triangular concrete block is my special design for the house,” Huynh Anh Tuan told Dezeen.

“The blocks were moulded and cast by the owners, and they are proud to have contributed something in the effort to build their own house.”

Named Kontum House, the building was designed to suit the tropical climate of the highland region, which experiences both high temperatures and heavy rainfall.

The concrete blocks are predominately used to protect the building from too much sun exposure.

At the front of the house, they flank an entire wall of windows that can be either partially or fully opened up to the breeze.

“The front elevation suffers from harsh sunlight as it faces the west, so the facade is composed of a rigid veil of patterned concrete blocks in front and a glass curtain wall behind,” said the architect.

“The double-skin facade reduces the heat of western sunlight, but also decorates the interior with lighting dots as it passes through the patterned concrete blocks,” he added.

Elsewhere, the blocks allow ventilation to circulate.

In the living space, which takes up the front portion of the building, they form five vertical strips along the wall that flanks a lounge space and also create a backdrop to a bench seat.

Towards the rear of the house, where the bedroom and bathroom are located, the blocks run along the top edge of a wall.

Townhouse with a folding-up shutter in Vietnam by MM++ Architects

A wide variety of plants were also added to improve the internal climate. These occupy a pair of courtyards at the rear of the building and a narrow bed in the living space.

All three areas sit beneath skylights.

“From almost every interior view, natural light and green lush are to be seen,” said Huynh Anh Tuan.

Walls are painted white throughout, contrasting with other details that include a bulky concrete entrance, a polished screed floor and custom-built wooden furniture.

“All these simple characters mingle together for a content living space of a young family,” added the architect.

The house is 23 metres long, but just five metres wide – typical of the narrow “tube houses” that feature across Vietnam, as well as other Asian countries including Japan.

The typology is starting to become popular in other countries around the world. A 4.5 metre-wide house was built in Los Angeles, inspired by Japanese architecture, while the more extreme examples include a 1.2-metre-wide property in Poland.”
homes  housing  khuônstudio  design  architecture  2016  vietnam  light  huynhanhtuan 
november 2019 by robertogreco
Perforated brick facade shades House for a Daughter in Vietnam // Daughter's House by Khuon Studio in Ho Chi Minh City
"A house in Vietnam by Khuôn Studio is built around a triple-height atrium filled with plants and shaded by a perforated facade of grey brick.

House for a Daughter in Ho Chi Minh City is split into two zones, one for a family who will frequently visit the house and another for their daughter who will live there throughout the year.

Due to the large amount of sun that hits the west-facing facade, air-bricks were chosen to provide shading and natural ventilation.

Custom-made curved concrete bricks inside a square frame allude to the curved walls of the interior.

From the outside it appears to be a unified house, but inside volumes with rounded edges hang within a triple-height atrium.

"Some corners of the house are rounded to carve out voids that blur the boundary between the atria and enhance the juxtaposition between the two floating architectural masses," explained the practice.

Trees and plants fill the open space and spill out over the top and dangle over the facade.

In the atrium areas for cooking and dining provide a communal area for the family to be together when they are all home.

Above the ground-level living and dining spaces, the front of the home is occupied bedrooms for the family.

A bedroom and study for the family's daughter are located towards the back of the house.

A series of living and office spaces are also provided at the front of the house, along with an external terrace at second floor-level.

These terraces overlook the street below through a series of curved wall sections that form the facade.

Each zone is linked both visually and physically by windows and thin wooden bridges, introduced by the practice in order to "facilitate family bonding."

Large, square skylights above the atrium flood the interior with light, drawn indirectly into rooms through the large windows overlooking the central space.

Finishes of wood and stone in the living areas contrast the crisp white forms of the house's walls.

To illuminate the home at night, lightbulbs hang from the top of the atrium down into the communal areas.

Ho Chi Minh City-based Khuôn Studio have previously designed several projects in the area, including a home with a perforated facade built using handmade concrete blocks and a tall, skinny house designed in collaboration with practice Phan Khac Tung.

Photography is by Hiroyuki Oki."
homes  houses  housing  vietnam  plants  light  shade  2019  khuônstudio  architecture  design  huynhanhtuan 
november 2019 by robertogreco
These 3 Policy Failures Are Killing the American Dream
"In sum: The “middle-class crunch” is a choice. The American Dream isn’t dying of natural causes. We know what must be done to revive it. The problem is simply that a lot of powerful people would rather pull the plug than pay for the cure."
policy  inequality  economics  taxes  history  us  ericlevitz  2019  middleclass  wages  work  wealth  wealthinequality  income  housing  healthcare  highered  highereducation  socialwelfare  socialsafetynet 
october 2019 by robertogreco
German Captain Pia Klemp Refuses Medal From Paris City Hall
“Paris, I love you. I love you for all the free and solidarian people that live in you. Fighting for their freedom everyday, standing shoulder to shoulder, distributing blankets, friendship and solidarity. I love you for those who are sharing their homes, love and struggles everyday - regardless of their nationality, regardless if they have papers or not.

Madame Hidalgo, you want to award me a medal for my solidarian action in the Mediterranean Sea, because our crews ‘work to rescue migrants from difficult conditions on a daily basis’. At the same time your police is stealing blankets from people that you force to live on the streets, while you raid protests and criminalize people that are standing up for rights of migrants and asylum seekers. You want to give me a medal for actions that you fight in your own ramparts. I am sure you won’t be surprised that I decline the medaille Grand Vermeil.

Paris, I’m not a humanitarian. I am not there to ‘aid’. I stand with you in solidarity. We do not need medals. We do not need authorities deciding about who is a ‘hero’ and who is ‘illegal’. In fact they are in no position to make this call, because we are all equal.

What we need are freedom and rights. It is time we call out hypocrite honorings and fill the void with social justice. It is time we cast all medals into spearheads of revolution!

Documents and housing for all!
Freedom of movement and residence!”

[via: https://twitter.com/lowlowtide/status/1164826725282271233 ]

[See also: https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/08/22/time-we-cast-all-medals-spearheads-revolution-refugee-rescuing-boat-captain-rejects ]
piaklemp  solidarity  humanitarianism  2019  freedom  rescue  migration  awards  mobility  movement  refugees  residency  housing  documentation  humanrights  paris  italy 
august 2019 by robertogreco
Eco-Apartheid Is Real | The Nation
“Eco-apartheid, which I define as a regime of greening affluence for the few at the expense of the many, is the path of business as usual.

And yet there was something frustratingly superficial about all this coverage, even when it focused on inequality.

In the era of the Green New Deal, journalists and activists still struggle to convey just how profoundly the climate emergency, our political economy, and social inequalities are connected. As a result, they’re still missing how much egalitarian green investment—like a Green New Deal for Housing—could address social, economic, and environmental crises at the same time. And while this policy idea is specific to the US context, an intersectional analysis here could enrich global debates about what effective and equitable green investment could look like around the world.”



“Yes, installing more efficient and comfortable systems in the United States will take money, both for retrofits and new construction. But targeted investments in racialized, working-class communities to decarbonize and increase resiliency is the core idea of the Green New Deal. The climate crisis and the cost-of-living crises are converging in American homes. And so are potential solutions.

A Green New Deal for Housing would retrofit public, subsidized, and low-income homes. It could use the power of public purchase and procurement to get low-carbon appliances into the homes that need them. Public investment and regulation would also lower the costs of the most efficient appliance technologies for everyone.

All this would create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the building trades. It could revitalize appliance manufacture in the United States. And the focus on efficient appliances and energy systems would spare us the individualized green moralizing that doesn’t make a difference anyway.

The key is to fuse the demands—and the social movements—for climate and housing progress. And while climate activists have gotten the attention lately, the housing movement’s growing confidence and power are just as impressive. Both the real estate and fossil fuel industries are finally under siege from powerful insurgencies.

Progressive movements and think tanks have been issuing detailed reports calling for national rent control and massive federal investment in new public housing construction, with groups like People’s Action calling for a Homes Guarantee. The Democratic presidential candidates are following suit.

The housing movement just won huge legislative battles in Oregon and New York State. And in New York, days after the tenants’ victory, the state’s climate justice movement won passage of an ambitious bill that would cut emissions to net zero by 2050—while ensuring that over a third of clean-energy spending benefits low-income and racialized communities.

Through no-carbon public housing construction and the kinds of building upgrades described above, a Green New Deal for Housing would be a perfect vehicle for such targeted investments. (All told, US homes are currently responsible for nearly one-sixth of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.)

And such a framework could unite climate, housing, and racial justice movements—and architects and designers. The New York Times reports that long-range cost concerns already have made affordable housing a leader in extremely low-energy building construction methods. In Norwich, England, the town’s housing authority built 100 lovely, award-winning three-story units of social housing to an extremely efficient passive house standard; green affordable housing can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes to fit their communities.

New and rehabilitated public housing complexes would also make ideal resiliency centers, providing physical and social infrastructure. Every public housing complex could double as a community cooling center during heat waves. And with solar rooftops, microgrids, and batteries, they could be refuges during storms when the power goes off.

All told, a Green New Deal for Housing would drive down carbon emissions, increase resiliency, and attack economic and racial inequalities. Contra the complaints of centrists, an ambitious and intersectional climate policy isn’t a gratuitous and expensive add-on. The massive green investment would, in fact, be the logical result of connecting the dots between all our environmental, economic, and social crises—and between the growing movements that are fighting for transformative change.”
eco-apartheid  apartheid  environment  climatechange  2019  politics  economics  intersectionality  housing  policy  climate  publichousing  race  greennewdeal  danielaldanacohen  climateurbanism 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Car Crashes Aren't Always Unavoidable - The Atlantic
"The automobile took over because the legal system helped squeeze out the alternatives."

...

"Further entrenching automobile supremacy are laws that require landowners who build housing and office space to build housing for cars as well. In large part because of parking quotas, parking lots now cover more than a third of the land area of some U.S. cities; Houston is estimated to have 30 parking spaces for every resident. As the UCLA urban-planning professor Donald Shoup has written, this mismatch flows from legal mandates rather than market demand. Every employee who brings a car to the office essentially doubles the amount of space he takes up at work, and in urban areas his employer may be required by law to build him a $50,000 garage parking space.

For those who didn’t get the message from the sprawling landscape that zoning has created, the tax code sharpened it by lavishing rewards on those who drive and punishing those who don’t. On its own terms, the mortgage-interest tax deduction is neutral as to the type of home financed, but—given the twin constraints of zoning and mortgage lending—the deduction primarily subsidizes large houses in car-centric areas. Those who walk or bike to work receive no commuter tax benefit, while those who drive receive tax-deductible parking. Another provision of the tax code gives car buyers a tax rebate of up to $7,500 when their new vehicles are electric or hybrid; buyers of brand-new Audis, BMWs, and Jaguars can claim the full $7,500 from the American taxpayer. Environmentally, these vehicles offer an improvement over gas-powered cars (but not public or active transit). Even so, 85 to 90 percent of toxic vehicle emissions in traffic come from tire wear and other non-tailpipe sources, which electric and hybrid cars still produce. They also still contribute to traffic, and can still kill or maim the people they hit. Why are we taxing bus riders to pay rich people to buy McMansions and luxury electric SUVs?"

...

"
Tort law is supposed to allow victims to recover for harms caused by others. Yet the standard of liability that applies to car crashes—ordinary negligence—establishes low expectations of how safe a driver must be. Courts have held that a higher standard—strict liability, which forces more careful risk taking—does not apply to driving. Strict liability is reserved for activities that are both “ultrahazardous” and “uncommon”; driving, while ultrahazardous, is among the most common activities in American life. In other words, the very fact that car crashes cause so much social damage makes it hard for those who are injured or killed by reckless drivers to receive justice.

In a similar spirit, criminal law has carved out a lesser category uniquely for vehicular manslaughter. Deep down, all of us who drive are afraid of accidentally killing someone and going to jail; this lesser charge was originally envisioned to persuade juries to convict reckless drivers. Yet this accommodation reflects a pattern. Even when a motorist kills someone and is found to have been violating the law while doing so (for example, by running a red light), criminal charges are rarely brought and judges go light. So often do police officers in New York fail to enforce road-safety rules—and illegally park their own vehicles on sidewalks and bike facilities—that specific Twitter accounts are dedicated to each type of misbehavior. Given New York’s lax enforcement record, the Freakonomics podcast described running over pedestrians there as “the perfect crime.”"

...

"All of these laws can be reversed directly by the legislative bodies responsible for passing them in the first place. However, a growing body of academic research suggests that, even when most people favor less restrictive zoning, local officials will side with wealthy homeowners who favor the status quo. In these cases, state legislators can be called upon to help. Reformers have succeeded in doing so in Oregon and have shown promise in California. Far less attention has been paid, however, at the federal level. Recently, several Democratic candidates for president have released federal plans to prod states and cities to relax their zoning.

Congress could condition a small share (say, 5 percent) of federal funds on the adoption by states of housing-production goals or Vision Zero design standards calibrated for safety. Conditional appropriations, which are how Congress goaded states into raising the drinking age, are already in use for numerous transportation programs.

Litigation for dangerous street design is another promising way to hold public entities accountable. So far, plaintiffs have mostly sought money damages, but they can also seek design changes through injunctive relief, including by class action. This has the potential to move not only laws and budgets but the entire discourse around street safety.

Finally, reformers could seek recognition of the freedom to walk. The federal Americans With Disabilities Act and state and local counterparts, as well as case law recognizing a constitutional right to movement, suggest such a right to mobility.

Americans customarily describe motor-vehicle crashes as accidents. But the harms that come to so many of our loved ones are the predictable output of a broken system of laws. No struggle for justice in America has been successful without changing the law. The struggle against automobile supremacy is no different."
2019  cars  law  zoning  accidents  insurance  policy  government  taxes  publictransit  pedestrians  parking  cities  urban  urbanism  transportation  transit  speedlimits  california  us  design  safety  health  risks  tortlaw  negligence  oregon  housing  litigation  gregoryshill 
july 2019 by robertogreco
Should California Get Rid of Single-Family Zoning? - The New York Times
“When I recently asked Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles about his stance on S.B. 50, the legislation that would have allowed more apartment construction near transit, he said it wouldn’t be a good fit for the city.

S.B. 50, he told me, would threaten the character of existing neighborhoods. And L.A., the state’s largest city, already builds more than its fair share of new housing compared with other cities in the county, he said.

This week, though, Emily Badger and Quoctrung Bui, my colleagues at The Upshot, reported that apartments and townhomes — anything other than detached, single-family houses — are banned from 75 percent of L.A.’s residential land.

All of which raises the question: When you’re dealing with a housing crisis, should a city even have single-family zoning? As Emily and Quoctrung reported, that’s a question cities across the nation are grappling with.

I asked Emily to dive a little deeper into what they learned about California. In L.A., at least, things weren’t always this way, she wrote:

In 1960, about 2.5 million people lived in the city of Los Angeles, but 10 million theoretically could. The city had the zoning capacity for that many residents — developers could legally build enough apartments to house them, neighborhoods were planned to accommodate that much growth.

Then L.A. began to reimagine itself in ways that constrain the city today.

L.A. and many California communities began the steady process of “downzoning”: converting land that allowed courtyard apartments to just fourplexes, fourplexes to duplexes, large-lot single-family homes to even-larger-lot single-family homes.

“It was death by a thousand cuts,” said Greg Morrow, executive director of the Real Estate Development and Design program at Berkeley, who has studied the development history of Los Angeles. “You’re just taking a little bit out each time.”

Within 20 years, according to Mr. Morrow’s research, the city’s zoning capacity had been cut to just under 4 million people. And that number has barely kept pace since with actual population growth.

Today, many families are doubling up or paying far more than they can afford for a place to live.

This history — and the current zoning map that The Times has reproduced — portrays a clearer picture of the housing shortage in California. It’s not just that the state hasn’t built enough housing over the years; California communities have made it illegal to build much of the housing that was once possible.

S.B. 50 would have significantly changed that. But the proposal, from State Senator Scott Wiener, is just one of several from officials across the country who are starting to rethink single-family zoning entirely.

“If you look back at early attempts to downzone,” Mr. Morrow said, “they really were almost driven by this naïve belief that if you just downzoned, you could stop population growth.”

In L.A., that clearly did not happen.”
california  zoning  losangeles  housing  2019  cities  urban  urbanism  policy  sb50  scottwiener  ericgarcetti  emilybadger  quoctrungbui  jillcowan  downzoning 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Better Public Schools Won’t Fix Income Inequality - The Atlantic
"Like many rich Americans, I used to think educational investment could heal the country’s ills—but I was wrong. Fighting inequality must come first."

...


"Long ago, i was captivated by a seductively intuitive idea, one many of my wealthy friends still subscribe to: that both poverty and rising inequality are largely consequences of America’s failing education system. Fix that, I believed, and we could cure much of what ails America.

This belief system, which I have come to think of as “educationism,” is grounded in a familiar story about cause and effect: Once upon a time, America created a public-education system that was the envy of the modern world. No nation produced more or better-educated high-school and college graduates, and thus the great American middle class was built. But then, sometime around the 1970s, America lost its way. We allowed our schools to crumble, and our test scores and graduation rates to fall. School systems that once churned out well-paid factory workers failed to keep pace with the rising educational demands of the new knowledge economy. As America’s public-school systems foundered, so did the earning power of the American middle class. And as inequality increased, so did political polarization, cynicism, and anger, threatening to undermine American democracy itself.

Taken with this story line, I embraced education as both a philanthropic cause and a civic mission. I co-founded the League of Education Voters, a nonprofit dedicated to improving public education. I joined Bill Gates, Alice Walton, and Paul Allen in giving more than $1 million each to an effort to pass a ballot measure that established Washington State’s first charter schools. All told, I have devoted countless hours and millions of dollars to the simple idea that if we improved our schools—if we modernized our curricula and our teaching methods, substantially increased school funding, rooted out bad teachers, and opened enough charter schools—American children, especially those in low-income and working-class communities, would start learning again. Graduation rates and wages would increase, poverty and inequality would decrease, and public commitment to democracy would be restored.

But after decades of organizing and giving, I have come to the uncomfortable conclusion that I was wrong. And I hate being wrong.

What I’ve realized, decades late, is that educationism is tragically misguided. American workers are struggling in large part because they are underpaid—and they are underpaid because 40 years of trickle-down policies have rigged the economy in favor of wealthy people like me. Americans are more highly educated than ever before, but despite that, and despite nearly record-low unemployment, most American workers—at all levels of educational attainment—have seen little if any wage growth since 2000.

To be clear: We should do everything we can to improve our public schools. But our education system can’t compensate for the ways our economic system is failing Americans. Even the most thoughtful and well-intentioned school-reform program can’t improve educational outcomes if it ignores the single greatest driver of student achievement: household income.

For all the genuine flaws of the American education system, the nation still has many high-achieving public-school districts. Nearly all of them are united by a thriving community of economically secure middle-class families with sufficient political power to demand great schools, the time and resources to participate in those schools, and the tax money to amply fund them. In short, great public schools are the product of a thriving middle class, not the other way around. Pay people enough to afford dignified middle-class lives, and high-quality public schools will follow. But allow economic inequality to grow, and educational inequality will inevitably grow with it.

By distracting us from these truths, educationism is part of the problem."

...

"However justifiable their focus on curricula and innovation and institutional reform, people who see education as a cure-all have largely ignored the metric most predictive of a child’s educational success: household income.

The scientific literature on this subject is robust, and the consensus overwhelming. The lower your parents’ income, the lower your likely level of educational attainment. Period. But instead of focusing on ways to increase household income, educationists in both political parties talk about extending ladders of opportunity to poor children, most recently in the form of charter schools. For many children, though—especially those raised in the racially segregated poverty endemic to much of the United States—the opportunity to attend a good public school isn’t nearly enough to overcome the effects of limited family income.

As Lawrence Mishel, an economist at the liberal-leaning Economic Policy Institute, notes, poverty creates obstacles that would trip up even the most naturally gifted student. He points to the plight of “children who frequently change schools due to poor housing; have little help with homework; have few role models of success; have more exposure to lead and asbestos; have untreated vision, ear, dental, or other health problems; … and live in a chaotic and frequently unsafe environment.”

Indeed, multiple studies have found that only about 20 percent of student outcomes can be attributed to schooling, whereas about 60 percent are explained by family circumstances—most significantly, income. Now consider that, nationwide, just over half of today’s public-school students qualify for free or reduced-price school lunches, up from 38 percent in 2000. Surely if American students are lagging in the literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving skills our modern economy demands, household income deserves most of the blame—not teachers or their unions.

If we really want to give every American child an honest and equal opportunity to succeed, we must do much more than extend a ladder of opportunity—we must also narrow the distance between the ladder’s rungs. We must invest not only in our children, but in their families and their communities. We must provide high-quality public education, sure, but also high-quality housing, health care, child care, and all the other prerequisites of a secure middle-class life. And most important, if we want to build the sort of prosperous middle-class communities in which great public schools have always thrived, we must pay all our workers, not just software engineers and financiers, a dignified middle-class wage.

Today, after wealthy elites gobble up our outsize share of national income, the median American family is left with $76,000 a year. Had hourly compensation grown with productivity since 1973—as it did over the preceding quarter century, according to the Economic Policy Institute—that family would now be earning more than $105,000 a year. Just imagine, education reforms aside, how much larger and stronger and better educated our middle class would be if the median American family enjoyed a $29,000-a-year raise.

In fact, the most direct way to address rising economic inequality is to simply pay ordinary workers more, by increasing the minimum wage and the salary threshold for overtime exemption; by restoring bargaining power for labor; and by instating higher taxes—much higher taxes—on rich people like me and on our estates.

Educationism appeals to the wealthy and powerful because it tells us what we want to hear: that we can help restore shared prosperity without sharing our wealth or power. As Anand Giridharadas explains in his book Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, narratives like this one let the wealthy feel good about ourselves. By distracting from the true causes of economic inequality, they also defend America’s grossly unequal status quo.

We have confused a symptom—educational inequality—with the underlying disease: economic inequality. Schooling may boost the prospects of individual workers, but it doesn’t change the core problem, which is that the bottom 90 percent is divvying up a shrinking share of the national wealth. Fixing that problem will require wealthy people to not merely give more, but take less."
economics  education  inequality  2019  labor  work  policy  poverty  history  nickhanauer  educationism  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  trickledowneconomics  ronaldreagan  billclinton  canon  edusolutionism  us  unemployment  billgates  gatesfoundation  democracy  wages  alicewalton  paulallen  anandgiridharadas  middleclass  class  housing  healthcare  publicschools  publiceducation  schools  learning  howwelearn  opportunity  lawrencemishel  curriculum  innovation 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Assignment Four - Hunters Point: A View from the Hill - Bay Area Television Archive
"KRON-TV Assignment Four documentary film which aired on October 5th 1969 at 7:00pm about poverty, racism, urban renewal and community action in San Francisco's Hunters Point neighborhood (predominantly African American). Features scenes of: SFPD Community Relations Unit's Palmer Jackson walking around the neighborhood and talking with youths; Adam Rogers of Young men For Action meeting with police and community members; an interview with Dr. Arthur Coleman, head of the Hunters Point Bayview Community Health Project; Mrs Eloise Westbrook chairing a public meeting of the Joint Housing Committee; Sylvester Brown criticising Mrs Westbrook for not permitting more voices to be heard at the meeting; Rev. Charles Lee preaching a sermon about how a "revolution" is coming, at the Ridgepoint Methodist Church; brief views of the September 1966 Hunters Point uprising (including police shooting at residents) and urban planner William Keller presenting ideas of how to transform the neighborhood. At one point, narrator Ed Hart comments that: "In Hunters Point ... the burden of public responsibility has been shouldered largely by black women." This film was written and produced by Ira Eisenberg, edited by John Bradley and shot by John Hines, Walter Nash and Sam Lopez. Please note: the original viewing copy in DIVA was sourced from a Betacam SP video tape master; it was updated on 10/8/12 by a video file derived from the higher quality 16mm film print (Ref. KRON 461). Thanks to historical researcher and consultant Paul Lee for establishing the date of broadcast."
bayview  hunterspoint  1969  sanfrancisco  housing  poverty  police  economics  race  racism  transportation  eloisewestbrook  palmerjackson  arthurcoleman  waronpoverty  sylvesterbrown  adamrogers  williamkeller  charleslee 
june 2019 by robertogreco
California’s housing bills failed—and so did California’s lawmakers - Curbed LA
"Democrats hold a supermajority—but failed to exercise any of their power to fix the housing crisis"

[See also:

"“I Got Mine”" Like college debt and climate change, the housing affordability crisis is generational warfare."
https://slate.com/business/2019/05/california-housing-crisis-boomer-gerontocracy.html

"California Democrats “Dropped the Ball” on Housing Package"
https://www.thebaycitybeacon.com/politics/california-democrats-dropped-the-ball-on-housing-package/article_04dbccf2-80bd-11e9-b573-9fb7ef8d99d8.html

"America’s Cities Are Unlivable. Blame Wealthy Liberals.: The demise of a California housing measure shows how progressives abandon progressive values in their own backyards."
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/22/opinion/california-housing-nimby.html

"The revenge of the suburbs: Why California’s effort to build more in single-family-home neighborhoods failed"
https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-california-sb50-failure-single-family-homes-suburbs-20190522-story.html ]
alissawalker  2019  california  losangeles  sanfrancisco  housing  democrats  politics  economics  fauxgressives  inequality  realestate  propoition13  gavinnewsom  farhadmanjoo  henrygrabar  nimbyism  anthonyportantino  diegoaguilar-canabal  liamdillon  sb50  nimbys  generations  boomers  babyboomers 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Getting poorer while working harder: The 'cliff effect'
"
Because so many American jobs don’t earn enough to pay for food, housing and other basic needs, many low-wage workers rely on public benefits that are only available to people in need, such as housing vouchers and Medicaid, to pay their bills.

Earning a little more money may not automatically increase their standard of living if it boosts their income to the point where they lose access to some or all of those benefits. That’s because the value of those lost benefits may outweigh their income gains.

I have researched this dynamic, which experts often call the “cliff effect,” for years to learn why workers weren’t succeeding at retaining their jobs following job training programs. Chief among the one step forward, two steps back problems the cliff effect causes: Low-paid workers can become reluctant to earn more money due to a fear that they will get worse off instead of better."
poverty  povertytrap  cliffeffect  medicaid  housing  inequality  foodstamps  section8 
june 2019 by robertogreco
'It’s a miracle': Helsinki's radical solution to homelessness | Cities | The Guardian
"Finland is the only EU country where homelessness is falling. Its secret? Giving people homes as soon as they need them – unconditionally"
homelessness  housing  finland  policy  2019  homeless 
june 2019 by robertogreco
Housing can’t both be a good investment and be affordable | City Observatory
[See also:

"Homeownership can exacerbate inequality"
http://cityobservatory.org/homeownership-can-exacerbate-inequality/

"Homeownership: A failed wealth-creation strategy"
http://cityobservatory.org/homeownership-a-failed-wealth-creation-strategy/

"Will upzoning ease housing affordability problems?"
http://cityobservatory.org/will-upzoning-ease_affordability/

"The end of the housing supply debate (maybe)"
http://cityobservatory.org/the-end-of-the-housing-supply-debate-maybe/ ]

"At City Observatory, we’ve frequently made the case that promoting homeownership as an investment strategy is a risky proposition. No financial advisor would recommend going into debt in order to put such a massive part of your savings in any other single financial instrument—and one that, as we learned just a few years ago, carries a great deal of risk.

Even worse, that risk isn’t random: It falls most heavily on low-income, black, and Hispanic buyers, who are given worse mortgage terms, and whose neighborhoods are systematically more likely to see low or even falling home values, with devastating effects on the racial wealth gap.

But let’s put all that aside for a moment. What if housing were a low-risk, can’t-miss bet for growing your personal wealth? What would that world look like?

Well, in order for your home to offer you a real profit, its price would need to increase faster than the rate of inflation. Let’s pick something decent, but not too crazy—say, annual increases of 2.5 percent, taking inflation into account. So if you bought a home for $200,000 and sold it ten years later, you’d be looking at a healthy profit of just over $56,000.

Sound good? Well, what if I told you that such a city existed? What if I told you it was in a beautiful natural setting, with hills and views of the ocean? And a booming economy? And lots of organic produce?"



"Even the community land trust, which seems to be a way of squaring the wealth-building/affordability circle, ultimately fails. Community land trusts typically provide subsidized or reduced price ownership opportunities to initial buyers, and assure longer term affordability by limiting the resale price of the home. In other words, CLT-financed homes remain affordable only because they restrict how much wealth building the initial owners are allowed to capture. The result is that CLT-financed homes only attract those who couldn’t otherwise purchase a home—which means that the lower-income people in CLTs will be building wealth more slowly than higher-income people in market-rate housing, a fundamentally inequality-increasing situation.

We say we want housing to be cheap and we want home ownership to be a great financial investment. Until we realize that these two objectives are mutually exclusive, we’ll continue to be frustrated by failed and oftentimes counterproductive housing policies."
housing  economics  sanfrancisco  2018  danielhertz  inequality  speculation  finance 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Urban Warfare: housing under the empire of finance [podcast]
"This book launch discussed how our homes and neighbourhoods have become the “last subprime frontiers of capitalism’.

Raquel Rolnik’s new book Urban Warfare: Housing under the empire of finance explores how financialisation has colonised cities and housing systems around the world, provoking homelessness and dispossession despite its promise of homeownership for all. The book examines housing politics and policy from numerous national contexts including the UK, Kazakhstan, Chile, the USA and Brazil. Rolnik offers a searing critique of the political economy of housing under neoliberalism and a poignant analysis of how it has decimated households across the globe, as well as an account of how residents and social movements are fighting back.

Raquel Rolnik is Professor of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of São Paulo. A widely-published academic and writer, she has also served as Director of the Planning Department of the city of São Paulo, National Secretary for Urban Programmes of the Brazilian Ministry of Cities, Urban Policy Coordinator of the NGO Polis Institute and United Nations Special Rapporteur on adequate housing.

Glyn Robbins is a long-time housing worker and activist with Defend Council Housing, and holds a PhD in urban policy. He is the author of There's No Place: The American housing crisis and what it means for the UK. His articles about housing and urban policy appear regularly in the labour movement and housing press and have also been published by The Guardian.

David Madden is Associate Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Cities Programme at LSE. He is co-author, with Peter Marcuse, of In Defense of Housing: The politics of crisis. His writing has appeared in the Guardian, Jacobin, and the Washington Post.

Suzanne Hall is Associate Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Cities Programme at LSE. She is the author of City, Street and Citizen: The measure of the ordinary and co-editor, with Ricky Burdett, of The Sage Handbook of the 21st Century City.

Established in 1904, the Department of Sociology @LSEsociology at LSE is committed to empirically rich, conceptually sophisticated, and socially and politically relevant research and scholarship. Building upon the traditions of the discipline, we play a key role in the development of the social sciences into the new intellectual areas, social problems, and ethical dilemmas that face our society today."
raquelrolnik  glynrobbins  davidmadden  suzannehall  housing  urban  urbanism  finance  capitalism  cities  urbanplanning  realestatefinancialcomplex 
may 2019 by robertogreco
'Capital City' on How Planning Follows Real Estate - CityLab
"Stein argues that the combined forces of development, finance, and a global elite parking its wealth in luxury housing swamp planners’ best intentions. With most industrial activity now pushed outside of city limits and public services dependent on property taxes, real estate, he contends, has come to dominate urban planning; the technology and finance sectors are beholden to it and offer no political counterweight.

The state is “a central actor” in gentrification, Stein writes. Planners lure developers and landlords with land-use and tax incentives on the one hand, while enticing new residents and shoppers with amenities on the other—all of which push prices up. “A planner’s mission is to imagine a better world, but their day-to-day work involves producing a more profitable one,” he writes. One chapter of the book tracks the real-estate dealings of three generations of the Trump family, boosted at intervals by public policies and incentives seized on for personal profit.

For Stein—a doctoral candidate in geography at the City University of New York, an instructor at Hunter College, and a trained planner—the question of planning is front and center to understanding our current economic order as experienced in city life. CityLab asked him about the rise of real estate, radical planners, and how would-be planners should approach the role. (This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)"

[See also: https://www.versobooks.com/books/2870-capital-city ]
urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  cities  inequality  democracy  money  wealth  finance  samuelstein  2019  housing  realestatefinancialcomplex 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Capital City: Gentrification and the Real Estate State – Next City
"This book is about planners in cities run by real estate. It describes how real estate came to rule, and what planners do under these circumstances. Planners provide a window into the practical dynamics of urban change: the way the state both uses and is used by organized capital, and the power of landlords and developers at every level of government. They also possess some of the powers we must deploy if we ever wish to reclaim our cities from real estate capital. Understanding planners is an important way to understand the capitalist state — how it is built, and what it would take to dismantle it."



"A private land market is essentially a spoils system — whoever owns the land keeps the accrued benefits, whether or not the owner is responsible for them. Until land is socially controlled, those who possess property, capital and access to power will shape planning priorities. With so much global capital invested into real estate, planners are facing enormous pressure to stoke land markets and enable gentrification. Their charge is to find creative ways to raise property values — either because they are low and landowners want them higher, or because they are already high and city budgets will fail if they start to fall. Any seemingly technical discussions of growth, density or urban form are always also shaped by this imperative. Planners are not just shills to real estate, though; they can and generally want to make spaces more beautiful, sustainable, efficient and sociable. But without control over the land, the result of their work is often higher land prices, increased rents and ultimately displacement.

As some places endure this kind of land market inflation, others fall prey to disinvestment: their land loses its exchange value, their residents are shut out of credit markets and their buildings fall into dangerous disrepair. This leads to a landscape of radically uneven geographical development between capital-flush cosmopolitan centers, like New York and London, and investment-scarce cities like Camden, New Jersey and Blackpool on England’s Irish Sea coast. Even within cities, the same inequalities are often evident from neighborhood to neighborhood. Gentrification cannot be a universal phenomenon; money tends to come from one place and go to another, creating chaos on both ends. On the disinvested side, communities face terrible choices. Many want the benefits of good planning — safe streets, clean air, decent housing — but not the catastrophic tide of capital it summons. In these places, residents will often reject planners’ interventions out of a well-founded fear that they will be kicked out of their neighborhoods before they ever enjoy the promised improvements.

One recent example: in March 2017, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a major new initiative for the poorest parts of Brooklyn. The plan promised jobs, park, health care and housing at a cost of $1.4 billion. But Brownsville resident Dayon Hopkins was skeptical. He had already been displaced from Bedford Stuyvesant after that neighborhood started to gentrify. Pointing to an ordinary building, he told a New York Times reporter, “They’ll take this right here, and put a glass door, a brick wall on one side of the hallway, and now it’s a loft, and now it costs way more than people are making around these parts. And I understand: It does get nicer. But where’s everybody else going to go? Down south? Where are we going to go?’”

Hopkins says what most planners won’t: that as long as some people’s business is to profit off land and property, most people will not be able to enjoy the benefits planners promise. Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. We can imagine a better world — in fact, we must. First, however, we need to understand how we got here and how the system works. I wrote this book for anyone who is frustrated with both the direction their cities are taking and the alternatives planners are offering. I put planners at the center of the story because they are uniquely positioned at the nexus of state, capital and popular power. On their own, however, planners cannot unwind real estate’s grip over our politics. For that, we will need organized people: mass movements to remake our cities from the ground up and gain control over our homes and lives.

Such movements have been a consistent feature of urban life, and have grown and adapted to face new challenges. Gentrification is brutal, but rarely total — not only because colonizers always rely on the labor of a local workforce, but also because people always fight back: as individuals, as families (of birth and of choice), as communities (local and international), as neighbors and as a class. Even after displacement, people find a way to remake their spatial cultures and rebuild their social ties — not just to survive, but to fightback anew.

Gentrification’s apologists will see this and claim displacement is not that bad — people are resilient, they move, they rebuild, they’re fine. My point is precisely the opposite: human beings will always resist regimes in which land ownership gives a small number of people enormous power over the lives of all others. People will fight back, and I believe that we will win. I hope this book contributes to that fight. It is made not only to be read, but to be used."

[See also:
https://www.versobooks.com/books/2890-urban-warfare
https://www.versobooks.com/books/2870-capital-city ]
oscarperryabello  raquelrolnik  samuelstein  housing  economics  capitalism  neoliberalism  urban  urbanism  cities  urbanplanning  2019  gentrification  ownership  inequality  dayonhopkins  realestatefinancialcomplex 
may 2019 by robertogreco
anton on Twitter: "Things that happen in Silicon Valley and also the Soviet Union: - waiting years to receive a car you ordered, to find that it's of poor workmanship and quality - promises of colonizing the solar system while you toil in drudgery day in,
"Things that happen in Silicon Valley and also the Soviet Union:

- waiting years to receive a car you ordered, to find that it's of poor workmanship and quality

- promises of colonizing the solar system while you toil in drudgery day in, day out

- living five adults to a two room apartment

- being told you are constructing utopia while the system crumbles around you

- 'totally not illegal taxi' taxis by private citizens moonlighting to make ends meet

- everything slaved to the needs of the military-industrial complex

- mandatory workplace political education

- productivity largely falsified to satisfy appearance of sponsoring elites

- deviation from mainstream narrative carries heavy social and political consequences

- networked computers exist but they're really bad

- Henry Kissinger visits sometimes for some reason

- elite power struggles result in massive collateral damage, sometimes purges

- failures are bizarrely upheld as triumphs

- otherwise extremely intelligent people just turning the crank because it's the only way to get ahead

- the plight of the working class is discussed mainly by people who do no work

- the United States as a whole is depicted as evil by default

- the currency most people are talking about is fake and worthless

- the economy is centrally planned, using opaque algorithms not fully understood by their users"
siliconvalley  sovietunion  tesla  uber  lyft  us  2018  antontroynikov  russia  space  utopia  society  propaganda  labor  work  housing  politics  social  elitism  collateraldamage  militaryindustrialcomplex  evil  currency  fake  economics  economy  planning  algorithms  mainstream  computing  henrykissinger 
may 2019 by robertogreco
Why Is There a Housing Crisis? | Opinion | East Bay Express
"The Bay Area's outrageous housing prices have led to howls of protest. Average rents have shot up by half during the last five years. Rents and house prices are the highest of any metropolitan area in the country and among the most unaffordable in the world. This is not just true of San Francisco but applies to the entire Bay region — now twelve counties and 8.5 million people, according to the US Census.

According to mainstream policy shops and planners, such as Gabriel Metcalf, president and CEO of the pro-urban growth organization SPUR, the housing crisis is caused by activists and neighborhood residents who oppose more market-rate housing development. Their solution is to allow developers to build more freely.

But while it's true that we need to expand the region's housing supply, building more housing cannot solve the problem as long as demand is out of control, as it is today. There is simply no way housing could have been built quickly enough to avoid the price spike of the current boom.

Three basic forces are driving the Bay Area's housing prices upward: growth, affluence, and inequality. Three other things make matters worse: finance, business cycles, and geography. All of these operate on the demand side of the equation, and demand is the key to the runaway housing market.

The prime mover of housing prices is economic growth. The Bay Area has been booming for the last five years, creating more than 500,000 new jobs on a base of 3 million. This is the global capital of tech, the world's most dynamic industry, and all those jobs have drawn in thousands of newcomers looking for housing. Moreover, tech delivers huge profits and pays high salaries and wages, as do other key sectors, like biomedical and finance. The Bay Area's per capita income has long been one of the highest in the country, and high incomes give people the wherewithal to pay top dollar for housing.

On top of this, income distribution is highly unequal, and wealth inequality is even worse, allowing the upper classes to put additional pressure on the market for good housing in favored locations. The Bay Area has one of the highest indexes of income inequality of any region, caused principally by the high salaries of the top 20 percent of earners. As for wealth, the Bay Area has more millionaires per capita than any other US metro and can claim 45 of the 400 richest people in the United States, second only to New York City.

Most people understand these essential drivers of the housing market, if not how extreme they are in the Bay region. But much more lies behind the runaway rents and sale prices of late. We need to think outside the box of simple supply and demand and look further at a trio of conditions shaping demand: credit and capital, boom and bust cycles, and the spatial preferences of the elite.

First, housing is a big-ticket item that normally requires a mortgage, and an excess of credit will exaggerate people's ability to purchase houses. California had the most overheated mortgage markets during the housing bubble of the 2000s, and our financial institutions have not been substantially reformed. Finance is subject to dramatic swings, and the pressure becomes unbearable at the peak of the cycle. Furthermore, footloose capital from around the world has once again been flooding into the Bay Area in search of high returns, whether as venture investments in hot start-ups, stock holdings in tech giants, or purchases of mortgage bonds. All the wealth in tech is not generated locally, nor is all housing demand.

Second, the housing market does not behave like eBay because supply is slow to adjust to demand. It takes a long time to build new units and most people stay in the same residence for years. Hence, only a small percentage of total housing stock comes on the market in any year — normally less than 5 percent — and markets suffer from intense bottlenecks. As expansive demand chases limited supply over the course of a business cycle, prices accelerate ahead of new building. Speculators and landlords intensify the pressure as they buy properties, evict tenants, and displace people in anticipation of even higher rents. The good news is that booms go bust, sooner or later. Construction will overshoot the market, as it always does, and then prices will fall by 10 to 20 percent, as usual.

Third, housing markets are badly distorted by the geography of privilege and power. If the nouveaux riches of the tech world want to live in San Francisco (even if they commute to Silicon Valley), they have the means to outbid working stiffs, families, artists, and the poor; the result, as we've seen, is a city that has become richer and whiter with remarkable speed. And that's just the tip of the iceberg: The greatest distortion to housing markets is the demand by the wealthy for exclusive, leafy, space-eating suburbs from Palo Alto to Orinda. These favored enclaves reduce overall housing supply by using low-density zoning to block the high-rises and apartments that provide moderate priced homes (not to mention low-income public housing).

So is there no recourse? Since the biggest sources of the housing crisis lie in the general conditions of contemporary capitalism — the tech boom, gross inequality, frothy finance, boom and bust cycles, and the power of the elites — local reforms can only do so much. Without a major political upheaval for financial control, higher taxes, equality, and more public spending, we are in for perennial housing crises. The housing market can never heal itself under existing conditions.

But some things can be done locally. Rent control with reasonable annual increases works quite well to dampen overheated markets. Eviction controls are critical, along with other restrictions on speculation. Demands for set-asides for low-income units are another proven strategy, along with development fees. Land trusts have worked well for open space protection in the Bay Area, and could work for housing, but will require major funding. And a real commitment of earmarking money for low-income housing by the federal government — on a scale to match the money going to highways — is a must.

New housing will have to be built, as well. But developers are profit-seekers, so don't expect them to be innocent bearers of what people need. It is absolutely necessary to question developers and city planners over what is to be built, how high, how big, and where. A livable city demands good design, historic preservation, neighborhood protections, mixed use, and social diversity, among other things, and figuring out what those things are should be a collective, democratic and, yes, conflictual process of politics and public debate. Nonetheless, opposing all new building, greater density, and neighborhood change is not a viable policy, and we cannot cling to the idea that our town or neighborhood will remain the same in a dynamic urban system.

Conservative critics, of course, denounce all popular efforts to control runaway housing costs, displacement, speculation, and bad planning as unnatural violations of some "natural law" of perfect markets. No one should be fooled by such fantasies. The real "market distortions" propelling the housing crisis are inequality, speculation, financial bloat, tax havens, and more. The day when the runaway privileges of bankers, builders, speculators, wealthy suburbanites, and the rest are reined in — that's the day the housing crisis will be over.

Richard Walker."
housing  california  richardwalker  2016  speculation  inequality  growth  affluence  geography  economics  bayarea  power  privilege  capitalism  rent  rentcontrol  eviction 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Radical Housing Journal
"The first issue of the Radical Housing Journal focuses on practices and theories of organizing as connected to post-2008 housing struggles. As 2008 was the dawn of the subprime mortgage and financial crisis, and as the RHJ coalesced ten years later in its aftermath, we found this framing apropos. The 2008 crisis was, after all, a global event, constitutive of new routes and formations of global capital that in turn impacted cities, suburbs, and rural spaces alike in highly uneven, though often detrimental, ways. Attentive to this, we hoped to think through its globality and translocality by foregrounding “post-2008” as field of inquiry. What new modes of knowledge pertinent to the task of housing justice organizing could be gained by thinking 2008 through an array of geographies, producing new geographies of theory?"
housing  organization  organizing  2008  mortgages  greatrecession  finance  translocality  global  capitalism  cities  urban  urbanism 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Future of Cities: Medellin, Colombia solves city slums - YouTube
"Medellin, Colombia offers a window into the future of cities. Once synonymous with the drug violence of Pablo Escobar's murderous cocaine cartel, Colombia's second largest city undergone a remarkable transformation. Medellín has done so largely by investing heavily in upgrading slums and connecting them to the city center. A centerpiece of this effort: innovative public transportation, such as a Metrocable gondola system that helps residents of informal communities get around town and enjoy all the benefits of a reinvented city.

In collaboration with Retro Report, learn more here: https://qz.com/is/what-happens-next-2/ "

[See also:
"Slums are growing around the world—but a city in Colombia has a solution"
https://qz.com/1381146/slums-are-growing-around-the-world-but-a-city-in-colombia-has-a-solution/ ]
medellin  medellín  colombia  cities  urban  urbanism  housing  poverty  2018  urbanplanning  justinmcguirk  slums  favelas  transportation  mobility  publictransit  urbanization  libraries  infrastructure  juliodávila  funding  policy  government  cablecars  economics  informal  education  schools  edésiofernandes  omarurán  janiceperlman  eugeniebirch 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Open Forum: Bring back the ‘missing middle’ housing - SFChronicle.com
"Tucked into neighborhoods throughout Oakland, Berkeley and many other Bay Area cities are small, beautiful duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes. These multifamily residences tend to be more affordable than single-family homes and were a major housing type in U.S. urban areas before World War II. But since the 1960s and ’70s, this type of essential housing has become illegal in neighborhoods throughout the Bay Area and nation because it exceeds the density allowed. That’s why it’s now called “missing middle” housing. It’s time we brought it back.

Late this month, the Berkeley City Council is scheduled to vote on a proposal to study the return of the missing middle — specifically, duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes — in most areas of the city, except for the fire-prone hills. Councilmembers Lori Droste, Ben Bartlett, Rashi Kesarwani and Rigel Robinson patterned their plan on a groundbreaking law that passed last fall in Minneapolis. In a historic vote, the Minneapolis City Council decided to become the first in the nation to once again allow for new duplexes and triplexes in single-family-home neighborhoods.

In a letter of support for the Berkeley plan, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf said it could serve as a model for her city and others. Indeed, it could be a model for all of California.

It would also help right a historic wrong. During the first part of the 20th century, some white, wealthy neighborhoods in Berkeley attached racial covenants to housing deeds — covenants that banned people of color from living there. Then, after the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed racial covenants in 1916 in Buchanan vs. Warley, Berkeley, regrettably, became a national leader of so-called “exclusionary zoning” laws. These laws worked much like racial covenants: They banned apartment buildings in many neighborhoods under the racist reasoning that people of color wouldn’t be able to live in those neighborhoods because they couldn’t afford to buy single-family homes.

In the following decades, “redlining” (a discriminatory practice of refusing to loan or insure in certain neighborhoods) and disinvestment deepened the racial divide in housing, as Richard Rothstein noted in his acclaimed 2017 book, “The Color of Law.” Cities and counties made matters worse in the ’60s and ’70s when they expanded exclusionary zoning, prohibiting missing middle housing in most neighborhoods.

Berkeley deserves credit for green-lighting new multi-unit housing downtown and on some major transit corridors during the past decade. But large swaths of the city are still limited by exclusive R-1 zoning, which only allows for single-family homes. In fact, homeowners in much of the city not only can’t add another home to a large lot but are blocked from subdividing their existing large house into two, three or four units.

Berkeley, of course, is not alone in its embrace of exclusionary zoning. Issi Romem, chief economist for Trulia, estimates that single-family-home neighborhoods represent nearly half of the land mass of the Bay Area and Los Angeles. The consequences of banning the missing middle have also been devastating for low-, moderate- and middle-income families. The median sales price of a home in Berkeley soared 65 percent in five years, from 2013 to 2018, reaching $1.2 million this past December, according to Zillow. And Berkeley rent prices skyrocketed 54 percent during the same period. In the Bay Area, a family currently needs to earn $200,000 a year to afford a median-priced home.

In short, we have a housing emergency. California now ranks 49th in the nation in terms of the number of housing units per capita. It’s no wonder that our homelessness crisis continues to expand.

It’s also an environmental crisis. During the past several decades, suburban sprawl, coupled with little to no new housing in our cities, has fueled gas-guzzling super-commutes. According to a 2018 report by researchers at UC Berkeley and UC Davis, the single most important way for cities to reduce their carbon footprint by 2030 — which scientists say is the deadline for avoiding catastrophic climate change — is to build urban infill housing.

We need an “all-of-the-above” approach to address our housing crisis, including Berkeley’s missing middle plan. I’m also heartened that the Berkeley City Council members’ proposal includes important elements to avoid unintended consequences.

For example, it would exempt dangerous fire zones in the Berkeley hills. California’s devastating wildfires during the past few years have proven we must curb new home-building in what’s known as the wildland-urban interface.

The Berkeley missing middle plan also calls for anti-displacement measures to ensure that tenants and low-income residents aren’t kicked out of their homes to make way for new housing.

As Karen Chapple, faculty director of the Urban Displacement Project at UC Berkeley, rightly noted in a letter in support of the missing middle plan, “Zoning reform has the potential not just to address the housing crisis but also to become a form of restorative or even transformative justice. There is no more important issue for planners to tackle today.”

I look forward to the Berkeley City Council approving the missing middle study at its meeting on March 26. And I encourage all Bay Area cities to follow suit."
housing  california  2019  density  apartments  history  race  racism  sanfrancisco  berkeley  oakland  infilling 
march 2019 by robertogreco
DIGNITY- The Displaced Women of Oakland - YouTube
"Gentrification is a large cause of displacement in many major cities. As cities undergo rapid development, rent prices rise, leading to increasing rates of homelessness.

“Dignity” focuses on the unhoused women and girls in the city of Oakland, California. Gentrification is very prevalent in the city and issues facing homeless women and girls are generally overlooked. This film is meant to shed light on the causes and effects of this displacement."
oakland  displacement  gentrification  2019  housing  cities  urban  urbanism  homelessness  homeless  women  gender 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Opinion | The New ‘Dream Home’ Should Be a Condo - The New York Times
"This is the New American Home for 2018. It’s a sprawling monstrosity of more than 10,690 feet (the lot encompasses 65,340 square feet).

The New American Home should really be this condo. There are six units. One unit here can have just 1,800 square feet."



"The first New American Home that N.A.H.B. built, in Houston in 1984, was 1,500 square feet and cost $80,000. By 2006, at the peak of the housing bubble, the N.A.H.B. home – a lakeside McMansion in Florida with a tri-level kitchen island and a waterfall off the master suite – was over 10,000 square feet and listed for $5.3 million in what is today one of the nation’s foreclosure capitals, Orlando.

That 1984 project was the smallest; square footage hasn’t dipped below 2,200 since 1985. The 2018 version, also in Florida, is “Tuscan”-inspired and is close to 11,000 square feet, with eight bathrooms and both an elevator and a car elevator in the garage. The 2019 version, to be unveiled soon, is 8,000 square feet and has an “inner sanctum lounge” and a view of the Vegas strip.

The N.A.H.B. house may be meant to highlight trends, but they’re not necessarily the trends homeowners want (and certainly not what most people need). Instead, they’re what builders, kitchen and bath manufacturers and real estate agents would like to sell them: Think cathedral ceilings, granite countertops, gift-wrapping rooms and, more recently, “smart” appliances like a refrigerator that can text you when you’re low on milk and eggs.

Many builders will tell you that though these houses are large, they are more efficient – even that they have a small carbon footprint. But this is like bragging about the good gas mileage of an S.U.V. While a 10,000-square-foot house built today uses less energy than a 10,000-square-foot house built a decade ago, a home of this size requires a phenomenal amount of energy to run. (And most likely has an S.U.V. or two in the garage.)

Does anyone need 10,000 square feet to live in?

Families are getting smaller, not larger. The average American household shrank by 30 percent from 1948 and 2012, to 2.55 people from 3.67. Yet houses have ballooned as family sizes have contracted.

The average new home today is 1,000 square feet larger than in 1973. The square footage of living space per person has increased to 971, from 507 – a 92 percent increase.

What if the next New American Home was a condo? And what if there was a new American dream, not of auto-dependent suburbia, but walkable urbanism?

In the Cloverdale749 building designed by Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects in Los Angeles, six families are housed – luxuriously – in a 10,500-square-foot building that has little else in common with the N.A.H.B. home.

No space is wasted here – it may not have multiple walk-in closets or “air-conditioned storerooms,” but it has high ceilings and roof decks.

Larger homes use more resources, typically require longer commutes, come with more expensive utility bills, and often contribute to more sedentary lifestyles (which in turn results in increased rates of conditions like obesity and heart disease).

The way the Cloverdale building is designed effectively reduces the need for (and costs of) heating and cooling, and increases natural light and circulation.

Thanks to its central location (and Los Angeles’s serious commitment to expanding public transit), it reduces the need for driving, too. Building this way has the highest potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in cities. The N.A.H.B. home, in contrast, is entirely self-contained, with no regard for neighbors or neighborhood. It might as well have a moat.

This approach to housing is not only socially isolating, it’s no longer sustainable.

Our way of building homes and neighborhoods lost the plot a long time ago.

Homes like those the N.A.H.B. is promoting ignore the changing nature of families and the imminent crisis in housing for the elderly – not to mention climate change, which we have no hope of combatting without a true reimagining of the American dream. Enter the Green New Deal: If it recognized the link between building more infill housing and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it would be even greener. Taking a strong stand against the primacy of the single family home (and the zoning that encourages it), especially the 10,000-square-foot ones, would represent a bold move toward combating climate change."
allisonarieff  housing  us  sustainability  2019  transportation  density  urban  urbanplanning  urbanism  excess  efficiency  energy  society 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Inequality - how wealth becomes power (1/2) | (Poverty Richness Documentary) DW Documentary - YouTube
"Germany is one of the world’s richest countries, but inequality is on the rise. The wealthy are pulling ahead, while the poor are falling behind.

For the middle classes, work is no longer a means of advancement. Instead, they are struggling to maintain their position and status. Young people today have less disposable income than previous generations. This documentary explores the question of inequality in Germany, providing both background analysis and statistics. The filmmakers interview leading researchers and experts on the topic. And they accompany Christoph Gröner, one of Germany’s biggest real estate developers, as he goes about his work. "If you have great wealth, you can’t fritter it away through consumption. If you throw money out the window, it comes back in through the front door,” Gröner says. The real estate developer builds multi-family residential units in cities across Germany, sells condominium apartments, and is involved in planning projects that span entire districts. "Entrepreneurs are more powerful than politicians, because we’re more independent,” Gröner concludes. Leading researchers and experts on the topic of inequality also weigh in, including Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, economist Thomas Piketty, and Brooke Harrington, who carried out extensive field research among investors from the ranks of the international financial elite. Branko Milanović, a former lead economist at the World Bank, says that globalization is playing a role in rising inequality. The losers of globalization are the lower-middle class of affluent countries like Germany. "These people are earning the same today as 20 years ago," Milanović notes. "Just like a century ago, humankind is standing at a crossroads. Will affluent countries allow rising equality to tear apart the fabric of society? Or will they resist this trend?”"

[Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYP_wMJsgyg

"Christoph Gröner is one of the richest people in Germany. The son of two teachers, he has worked his way to the top. He believes that many children in Germany grow up without a fair chance and wants to step in. But can this really ease inequality?

Christoph Gröner does everything he can to drum up donations and convince the wealthy auction guests to raise their bids. The more the luxury watch for sale fetches, the more money there will be to pay for a new football field, or some extra tutoring, at a children's home. Christoph Gröner is one of the richest people in Germany - his company is now worth one billion euros, he tells us. For seven months, he let our cameras follow him - into board meetings, onto construction sites, through his daily life, and in his charity work. He knows that someone like him is an absolute exception in Germany. His parents were both teachers, and he still worked his way to the top. He believes that many children in Germany grow up without a fair chance. "What we see here is total failure across the board,” he says. "It starts with parents who just don’t get it and can’t do anything right. And then there’s an education policy that has opened the gates wide to the chaos we are experiencing today." Chistoph Gröner wants to step in where state institutions have failed. But can that really ease inequality?

In Germany, getting ahead depends more on where you come from than in most other industrialized countries, and social mobility is normally quite restricted. Those on top stay on top. The same goes for those at the bottom. A new study shows that Germany’s rich and poor both increasingly stay amongst themselves, without ever intermingling with other social strata. Even the middle class is buckling under the mounting pressure of an unsecure future. "Land of Inequality" searches for answers as to why. We talk to families, an underpaid nurse, as well as leading researchers and analysts such as economic Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz, sociologist Jutta Allmendinger or the economist Raj Chetty, who conducted a Stanford investigation into how the middle class is now arming itself to improve their children’s outlooks."]
documentary  germany  capitalism  economics  society  poverty  inequality  christophgröner  thomaspiketty  brookehrrington  josephstiglitz  neoliberalism  latecapitalism  brankomilanović  worldbank  power  influence  policy  politics  education  class  globalization  affluence  schools  schooling  juttaallmendinger  rajchetty  middleclass  parenting  children  access  funding  charity  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  status  work  labor  welfare  2018  geography  cities  urban  urbanism  berlin  immigration  migration  race  racism  essen  socialsegregation  segregation  success  democracy  housing  speculation  paulpiff  achievement  oligarchy  dynasticwealth  ownership  capitalhoarding  injustice  inheritance  charlottebartels  history  myth  prosperity  wageslavery  polarization  insecurity  precarity  socialcontract  revolution  sociology  finance  financialcapitalism  wealthmanagement  assets  financialization  local  markets  privateschools  publicschools  privatization 
january 2019 by robertogreco
How This All Happened · Collaborative Fund
"This is a short story about what happened to the U.S. economy since the end of World War II."



"10. The Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, Brexit, and the rise of Donald Trump each represents a group shouting, “Stop the ride, I want off.”

The details of their shouting are different, but they’re all shouting – at least in part – because stuff isn’t working for them within the context of the post-war expectation that stuff should work roughly the same for roughly everyone.

You can scoff at linking the rise of Trump to income inequality alone. And you should. These things are always layers of complexity deep. But it’s a key part of what drives people to think, “I don’t live in the world I expected. That pisses me off. So screw this. And screw you! I’m going to fight for something totally different, because this – whatever it is – isn’t working.”

Take that mentality and raise it to the power of Facebook, Instagram, and cable news – where people are more keenly aware of how other people live than ever before. It’s gasoline on a flame. Benedict Evans says, “The more the Internet exposes people to new points of view, the angrier people get that different views exist.” That’s a big shift from the post-war economy where the range of economic opinions were smaller, both because the actual range of outcomes was lower and because it wasn’t as easy to see and learn what other people thought and how they lived.

I’m not pessimistic. Economics is the story of cycles. Things come, things go.

The unemployment rate is now the lowest it’s been in decades. Wages are now actually growing faster for low-income workers than the rich. College costs by and large stopped growing once grants are factored in. If everyone studied advances in healthcare, communication, transportation, and civil rights since the Glorious 1950s, my guess is most wouldn’t want to go back.

But a central theme of this story is that expectations move slower than reality on the ground. That was true when people clung to 1950s expectations as the economy changed over the next 35 years. And even if a middle-class boom began today, expectations that the odds are stacked against everyone but those at the top may stick around.

So the era of “This isnt working” may stick around.

And the era of “We need something radically new, right now, whatever it is” may stick around.

Which, in a way, is part of what starts events that led to things like World War II, where this story began.

History is just one damn thing after another."
history  economics  us  ww2  wwii  2018  morganhousel  debt  labor  work  credit  teaparty  donaldtrump  employment  unemployment  inequality  capitalism  1940s  1950s  1960s  1970s  1980s  2000s  2010s  expectations  behavior  highered  highereducation  education  communication  healthcare  housing  internet  web  online  complexity 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Nick Kaufmann on Twitter: "Civic tech needs to study history and explore the "usable past". Everyone in #civictech / @codeforamerica network should read Professor Light's upcoming book States of Childhood, ill attempt to summarize her talk below, although
[this is the event:
https://architecture.mit.edu/computation/lecture/playing-city-building ]

[thread contains many images]

"Civic tech needs to study history and explore the "usable past". Everyone in #civictech / @codeforamerica network should read Professor Light's upcoming book States of Childhood, ill attempt to summarize her talk below, although it's only what i could grasp in an hour or so.

https://twitter.com/nickkauf/status/1071162000145817601
At @mitsap tonight tweeting about Jennifer Light's lecture "playing at city building" #urbanism #education #civictech

Light opened the talk with the observation that more disciplines are looking to study history to "look forward by looking backward" #civicfutures #usablepast

In #civictech we know this isnt the first government reform movement with a "techie spin" in the world or us. At the last turn of the century, anxieties about cities birthed the "good government movement" the "googoos" were reformers kinda like #civichackers of today

Like @codeforamerica and also #smartcities boosters, the goo-goos believed scientific models and tech tools were a source of progress. They were worried about "boss rule" and wanted to "rationalize government" compare to cfa's mottos today

After discussing the good govt movement, Lights set the historical context of shifting expectations around young people's behavior. Child labor laws did not stop children from working however, it was just framed as "play" now

In this context early models of vocational education and educational simulations emerged, including William R. George's "model republic" movement. @Erie @pahlkadot model republics were all over the usa, not as franchised like #cfabrigade but more grassroots diffusion of the idea

There were miniature republics run by children in boston(Cottage Row), Cleveland (Progress City) Philadelphia (Playground City), etc, where children worked as real pretend public servants

media coverage of the time hailed these civic simulations as educational opportunity/chance for a "second life" for youth. Some of the tenement kids that George put into his program ended up in ivy league schools, and as lawyers, Pub. Servants and admins of their own model cities

The educational theories at the time of the model republics were very similar to today's trends of "gamification" "experiential learning" etc. Light referenced Stanley Hall (imitation/impersonation) and 'identity play'

Long before Bateson and Goffman were muddling the boundary between seriousness/play, model republics were also using that ambiguity to educate and also cut costs of programs literally built and maintained by children. Imagine 1000 kids and 3 admins

John Dewey's philosophy of learning by doing was also heavily referenced in the talk, as George took great inspiration from him and Dewey was a supporter of the model republics.

Light stressed just how much model republic citizens did in their pretend-real jobs, building housing, policing, data collection, safety inspections, and they did it so well that they often circumvented the adult systems. Why send some1 to adult court when junior court works?

This dynamic reminded me so much of #civichackers today with our pretend jobs and weekly hack night play that quickly turns into real jobs for our cities

Another point Light made was that the model republics were very much about assimilation of immigrants into a certain set of white american middleclass values. But before rise of consumerism those values heavily emphasized DIY/activecitizenship/production.

One reason for the decline of the model republics might have been the rise of consumerism and passive consumption valued over production. But we still have things like model U.N. and vocational programs, vestiges of this time.

Again today we have a perceived need to train people for the "new economy", so what can #civictech #civicinnovation #smartcities learn from looking back to historical examples? For one thing, we learn that youth contribution to civic innovation is important and undervalued

When model republics were introduced into schools the educational outcomes were not the only advantage, they saved schools gobs of money through "user generated" labor. Again think about civictech volunteerism today...

At Emerson School, Light said, kids were even repairing the electrical system. And in some cities kids would stand in for the mayor at real events.

Heres a page describing the establishment of a self-governing body of newsboys in Milwaukee https://www.marquette.edu/cgi-bin/cuap/db.cgi?uid=default&ID=4167&view=Search&mh=1

Light closed the talk by remarking on the "vast story of children's unacknowledged labor in the creation of urban America". slide shows how their labor was hidden behind play. Although they couldnt work in factories,can you call it "play" if it involved *building* the playground?

Although Light's upcoming book focuses on America, she said there were civic simulations like this in many countries including the Phillipines, China, England, France...

Model republics were not however a well connected, branded international civic movement like modern #civictech. Light said that while they were promoted at national educational conferences on education or public housing, George lamented not having control of the brand/vision

The result of George's lack of guidelines and a organizational network of model republic practiciorners was many different, idiosyncratic models run by different ppl in different places. @pahlkadot George really needed a "National Advisory Council" it seems!

For example an Indiana model republic the kids put on their own circuses! George thought some model republics werent following his original values/vision but couldnt do much about it...another theme in #civictech now Fortunately @Open_Maine is allowed to be weirdos too @elburnett

Light emphasized that although the model republics were a tool to assimilate children into a set of values (presumably including colonial, racist, patriarchal, capitalist ones) they were also a site of agency where kids experimented and innovated.

For example, girls in coeducational model republics held public offices and launched voting rights campaigns before the women' suffrage movement gained the rights in the "real" world. Given the power of the republics to do real work this wasnt just a symbolic achievement.

George for his part believed that the kids should figure out model republics for themselves, even if it meant dystopian civics. One model republic kept prisoners in a literal iron cage before eventually abolishing the prison.

Light's talk held huge lessons for the #civictech movement, and the model republic movement is just one of many pieces of history that can be a "usable past" for us. every civic tech brigade should have a "historian" role!

At @Open_Maine weve always been looking back to look forward although I didnt have the "usable past" vocabulary until I saw professor Light's talk today. @ajawitz @elburnett and I have consciously explored history in promoting civic tech in Maine.Other brigades are doing this too

For example, early @Open_Maine (code for maine) posters consciously referenced civilian conservation corps aesthetic #usablepast

We also made a 100y link w/ charitable mechanics movement @MaineMechanics makerspace never happened but @semateos became president and aligned org. with modern #makermovement. we host civichackathons there. #mainekidscode class is in same room that held free drawingclass 100y ago

So you can see why Light's talk has my brain totally buzzing. After all, @Open_Maine has been dreaming of #civicisland, an experiential #civictech summer camp! Were currently applying to @MozOpenLeaders to develop open source experiential civictech curricula we could use for it.

Next steps here: I want to write an article about the "usable past" concept for #civictech. So if your brigade is engaged with history I wanna talk to you. @JBStephens1 was it you talking about the rotary club model on slack? @CodeForPhilly didnt you make a history timeline?"
nickkaufmann  urbanism  urban  cities  jenniferlight  children  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  civics  civictech  technology  history  codeforamerica  smartcities  boston  cleveland  philadelphia  williamgeorge  modelrepublics  simulations  simulation  gregorybateson  play  seriousplay  seriousness  education  johndewey  milaukee  labor  work  colinward  thechildinthecity  housing  governance  policy  activism  participatory  participation  experimentation  experience  experientiallearning  volunteerism  makerspaces  openmaine  maine  learning  howwelearn  ervinggoffman 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Why Japanese houses have such limited lifespans - Nobody’s home
"EVERY 20 years in the eastern coastal Japanese city of Ise, the shrine, one of the country’s most venerated, is knocked down and rebuilt. The ritual is believed to refresh spiritual bonds between the people and the gods. Demolishing houses has no such lofty objective. Yet in Japan they have a similarly short life expectancy.

According to Nomura, a brokerage, the value of the average Japanese house depreciates to zero in 22 years. (It is calculated separately from the land, which is more likely to hold its value.) Most are knocked down and rebuilt. Sales of new homes far outstrip those of used ones, which usually change hands in the expectation that they will be demolished and replaced. In America and Europe second-hand houses accounted for 90% of sales and new-builds for 10% in 2017. In Japan the proportions are the other way around.

The reasons for Japanese houses’ rapid loss of value lie partly in tradition. In many countries people buy when they pair off, when they move to a bigger place after they have children or when they downsize on retirement. Japanese people have tended to see out all life’s stages in the same dwelling, a custom they attribute to their history as a farming nation, when they had to stay put. As a result, they never got used to second-hand homes.

The frequency of earthquakes also plays a part. Large tremors tend to be followed by tougher building regulations. Many people want to live in a home built to the most recent standards. History also helped to form habits. During the second world war dozens of cities, including Tokyo, had been flattened by American bombs. The population then was growing fast. Quantity was valued over quality. Big prefab manufacturers, such as Daiwa House, survive to this day, bringing out new models every year that, as with cars, people aspire to upgrade to.

One careless owner
In a vicious cycle, houses are expected to depreciate and are therefore not maintained, so second-hand homes are often dingy and depressing. Japanese people also shun wake-ari bukken, buildings “stigmatised” because, say, a former resident committed suicide there or a cult resides nearby. “In Japan, the words old and charming do not go together,” says Noriko Kagami, an estate agent (who tore down a house she bought herself).

Unsurprisingly, given the speed at which the value of houses falls to nothing, banks are more willing to offer loans for new places. Government policy, long aimed at resolving a housing shortage, further skews housebuyers’ incentives. It is not tax-efficient to improve a house, says Daisuke Fukushima of Nomura, since property taxes are based on value. Someone who buys a new-build must pay 0.4% of its value to register ownership. Registering a change of ownership costs 2%.

Construction and home-fitting companies benefit from this speedy housing cycle. But in the longer term is it wasteful. Chie Nozawa of Toyo University compares it to slash-and-burn farming. “We are not building wealth,” says Yasuhiko Nakajo, who leads the property department at Meikai University.

When the number of mouths to feed is growing, slash-and-burn at least makes short-term sense. But Japan’s throwaway housing culture, shaped by a once-urgent need to house growing numbers, makes no sense now that the population is shrinking. The country currently has an estimated 10m abandoned homes, a number that is expected to rise above 20m by 2033.

That is a problem for entire neighbourhoods: a derelict lot drags down the value of nearby houses. It also complicates the transfer of wealth from the big post-war generation. A house that is worth nothing cannot be sold to pay for an assisted-living apartment or a place in a nursing home, or handed on as an inheritance.

The government has, belatedly, started to rethink its policies. It set itself the target of doubling the number of used-housing sales in 2020 compared with ten years earlier, and is strengthening a home-surveying system introduced in 2013. From next month estate agents will have to give prospective buyers more information, including disclosing the results of any inspection. Much still remains unclear, though, including how long the results of a survey will remain valid, and whether the seller will be liable for defects that were not disclosed during the sale.

The government is also considering reducing the taxes associated with buying a home if it is currently vacant. Some regions are offering incentives to buyers of abandoned homes, including financial aid and lower taxes.

Banks are becoming a little more forthcoming with loans for second-hand housing. Some housing companies are starting to offer renovation and refurbishment services. When Motoazabu Hills, a posh building of rented apartments in central Tokyo, recently changed hands, the new owner decided to gut and redo the interiors rather than knock the whole thing down. AERA, a magazine, recently published a guide to buying property that will retain its value. Among its tips was to buy in an area that is home to lots of women in their 20s and 30s (ie, of childbearing age).

All this is having some success. In the cities a larger share of people now rent than own places, and move more often. “We are entering a stage where people are starting to see a used home as an option,” says Mr Nakajo. In 2017 a record 37,329 second-hand flats were sold in Tokyo, a 31% increase on ten years earlier. Yet until what Mr Nakajo dubs the “20-year-mentality” changes, the preference for shiny and new will remain."
japan  housing  depreciation  economics  2018  policy  construction  taxes 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Overgrowth - e-flux
"Architects and urban practitioners, toiling daily at the coalface of economic expansion, are complicit in the perpetuation of growth. Yet they are also in a unique position to contribute towards a move away from it. As the drivers of growth begin to reveal their inadequacies for sustaining life, we must imagine alternative societal structures that do not incentivize unsustainable resource and energy use, and do not perpetuate inequality. Working on the frontline of capitalism, it is through architecture and urban practice that alternative values, systems, and logics can be manifest in built form and inherited by generations to come.

Editors
Nick Axel
Matthew Dalziel
Phineas Harper
Nikolaus Hirsch
Cecilie Sachs Olsen
Maria Smith

Overgrowth is a collaboration between e-flux Architecture and the Oslo Architecture Triennale within the context of its 2019 edition."

[See also: https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221902/editorial/ ]

[including:

Ateya Khorakiwala: "Architecture's Scaffolds"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221616/architecture-s-scaffolds/
The metaphor of grassroots is apt here. Bamboo is a grass, a rhizomatic plant system that easily tends towards becoming an invasive species in its capacity to spread without seed and fruit. Given the new incursions of the global sustainability regime into third world forests to procure a material aestheticized as eco-friendly, what would it take for the state to render this ubiquitous material into a value added and replicable commodity? On one hand, scaffolding offers the site of forming and performing the subjectivity of the unskilled laborer—if not in making the scaffolding, then certainly in using it. Bamboo poles for scaffolding remain raw commodities, without scope for much value addition; a saturated marketplace where it can only be replaced by steel as building projects increase in complexity. On the other hand, bamboo produces both the cottage industry out of a forest-dwelling subject, on the margins of the state, occupying space into which this market can expand.

Bamboo is a material in flux—what it signifies is not transferable from one scale to another, or from one time to another. In that sense, bamboo challenges how we see the history of materials. In addition to its foundational architectural function as scaffolding, it acts as a metaphorical scaffolding as well: it signifies whatever its wielders might want it to, be it tradition, poverty, sustainability, or a new form of eco-chic luxury. Bamboo acts more as a scaffolding for meaning than a material with physical properties of flexibility and strength. Scaffolding, both materially and metaphorically, is a site of politics; a space that opens up and disappears, one that requires much skill in making.

Edgar Pieterse: "Incorporation and Expulsion"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221603/incorporation-and-expulsion/
However, what is even more important is that these radically localized processes will very quickly demand spatial, planning, and design literacy among urban households and their associations. The public pedagogic work involved in nurturing such literacies, always amidst action, requires a further institutional layer that connects intermediary organizations with grassroots formations. For example, NGOs and applied urban research centers with knowledge from different sites (within a city and across the global South) can provide support to foster these organizational literacies without diminishing the autonomy and leadership of grassroots movements. Intermediary organizations are also well placed to mediate between grassroots associations, public officers, private sector interests, and whoever else impinge on the functioning of a neighborhood. Thinking with the example of Lighthouse suggests that we can think of forms of collective economic practice that connect with the urban imperatives of securing household wellbeing whilst expanding various categories of opportunity. The transformative potential is staggering when one considers the speed with which digital money systems and productive efficiencies have taken off across East Africa during the past five years or so.

There is unprecedented opportunity today to delink the imperatives of just urban planning from conventional tropes about economic modernization that tend to produce acontextual technocracy. We should, therefore, focus our creative energies on defining new forms of collective life, economy, wellbeing, invention, and care. This may even prove a worthwhile approach to re-signify “growth.” Beyond narrow economism there is a vast canvas to populate with alternative meanings: signifiers linked to practices that bring us back to the beauty of discovery, learning, questioning, debate, dissensus, experimentation, strategic consensus, and most importantly, the courage to do and feel things differently.

Ingerid Helsing Almaas: "No app for that"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221609/no-app-for-that/
Conventionally, urban growth is seen in terms of different geometries of expansion. Recent decades have also focused on making existing cities denser, but even this is thought of as a process of addition, inscribed in the conventional idea of growth as a linear process of investments and profits. But the slow process of becoming and disappearance is also a form of growth. Growth as slow and diverse accretion and shedding, layering, gradual loss or restoration; cyclical rather than linear or expansive. Processes driven by opportunity and vision, but also by irritation, by lack, by disappointment. In a city, you see these cyclical processes of accretion and disruption everywhere. We just haven’t worked out how to make them work for us. Instead, we go on expecting stability and predictability; a city with a final, finished form.

Peter Buchanan: "Reweaving Webs of Relationships"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221630/reweaving-webs-of-relationships/

Helena Mattsson and Catharina Gabrielsson: "Pockets and Folds"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221607/pockets-and-folds/
Moments of deregulations are moments when an ideology of incessant growth takes over all sectors of life and politics. Returning to those moments allows us to inquire into other ways of organizing life and architecture while remaining within the sphere of the possible. Through acts of remembrance, we have the opportunity to rewrite the present through the past whereby the pockets and folds of non-markets established in the earlier welfare state come into view as worlds of a new becoming. These pockets carry the potential for new political imaginaries where ideas of degrowth reorganize the very essence of the architectural assemblage and its social impacts. These landscapes of possibilities are constructed through desires of collective spending—dépense—rather than through the grotesque ideas of the wooden brain.

Angelos Varvarousis and Penny Koutrolikou: "Degrowth and the City"
https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/overgrowth/221623/degrowth-and-the-city/
The idea of city of degrowth does not attempt to homogenize, but rather focus on inclusiveness. Heterogeneity and plurality are not contrary to the values of equity, living together and effective sharing of the resources. Difference and plurality are inherent and essential for cities and therefore diverse spatial and social articulations are intrinsic in the production of a city of degrowth. They are also vital for the way such an idea of a city could be governed; possibly through local institutions and assemblies that try to combine forms of direct and delegative democracy.
]
growth  degrowth  architecture  overgrowth  2018  nickaxel  matthewdalziel  phineasharper  nikolaushirsch  ceciliesachsolsen  mariasmith  ateyakhorakiwala  edgarpieterse  ingeridhelsingalmaas  peterbuchanan  helenamattsson  catharinagabrielsson  angelosvarvarousis  pennykoutrolikou  2019  anthropocene  population  sustainability  humans  civilization  economics  policy  capitalism  karlmarx  neoliberalism  systemsthinking  cities  urban  urbanism  urbanplanning  urbanization  ecology  consumption  materialism  consumerism  oslo  bymelding  stability  change  predictability  design  africa  southafrica  postcolonialism  ethiopia  nigeria  housing  kenya  collectivism  dissensus  experimentation  future  learning  questioning  debate  discovery  wellbeing  intervention  care  technocracy  modernization  local  grassroots  materials  multiliteracies  ngos  autonomy  shigeruban  mumbai  bamboo  burkinafaso  patrickkeré  vikramadityaprakash  lecorbusier  pierrejeanneret  modernism  shivdattsharma  chandigarh  india  history  charlescorrea  scaffolding 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Housing Can’t Be Both Affordable and a Good Investment - CityLab
[also posted here: http://cityobservatory.org/housing-cant-be-affordable_and_be-a-good-investment/ ]

"The two pillars of American housing policy are fundamentally at odds."



"Promoting homeownership as an investment strategy is a risky proposition. No financial advisor would recommend going into debt in order to put such a massive part of your savings in any other single financial instrument—and one that, as we learned just a few years ago, carries a great deal of risk.

Even worse, that risk isn’t random: It falls most heavily on low-income, black, and Hispanic buyers, who are given worse mortgage terms, and whose neighborhoods are systematically more likely to see low or even falling home values, with devastating effects on the racial wealth gap.

But let’s put all that aside for a moment. What if housing were a low-risk, can’t-miss bet for growing your personal wealth? What would that world look like?

Well, in order for your home to offer you a real profit, its price would need to increase faster than the rate of inflation. Let’s pick something decent, but not too extreme—say, annual increases of 2.5 percent, taking inflation into account. So if you bought a home for $200,000 and sold it ten years later, you’d be looking at a healthy profit of just over $56,000.

Sound good? Well, what if I told you that such a city existed? What if I told you it was in a beautiful natural setting, with hills and views of the ocean? And a booming economy? And lots of organic produce?

Maybe you’ve guessed by now: The wonderland of ever-increasing housing prices is San Francisco. When researcher Eric Fischer went back to construct a database of rental prices there, he found that rents had been growing by about 2.5 percent, net of inflation, for about 60 years. And this Zillow data suggests that San Francisco owner-occupied home prices have been growing by just over 2.5 percent since 1980 as well.

Like I said, over ten years, that gives you a profit of just over 25 percent. But compound interest is an amazing thing, and the longer this consistent wealth-building goes on, the more out of hand housing prices get. In 1980, Zillow’s home price index for San Francisco home prices was about $310,000 (in 2015 dollars). By 2015, after 35 years of averaging 2.5 percent growth, home prices were over $750,000.

Now, if all you cared about were wealth building, this would be fantastic news. The system works! (Although actually even this rosy scenario is missing some wrinkles: San Francisco real estate prices did suffer enormously, if briefly, during the late-2000s crash, and if you bought in the mid-2000s and had to sell in, say, 2010, you would have taken a massive loss.)

But this sort of wealth building is predicated on a never-ending stream of new people who are willing and able to pay current home owners increasingly absurd amounts of money for their homes. It is, in other words, a massive up-front transfer of wealth from younger people to older people, on the implicit promise that when those young people become old, there will be new young people willing to give them even more money. And of course, as prices rise, the only young people able to buy into this Ponzi scheme are quite well-to-do themselves. And because we’re not talking about stocks, but homes, “buying into this Ponzi scheme” means “able to live in San Francisco.”

In other words, possibly the only thing worse than a world in which homeownership doesn’t work as a wealth-building tool is a world in which it does work as a wealth-building tool.

This also means that the two stated pillars of American housing policy—homeownership as wealth-building and housing affordability—are fundamentally at odds. Mostly, American housing policy resolves this contradiction by quietly deciding that it really doesn’t care that much about affordability after all. While funds for low-income subsidized housing languish, much larger pots of money are set aside for promoting homeownership through subsidies like the mortgage interest deduction and capital gains exemption, most of which goes to upper-middle- or upper-class households.

But even markets with large amounts of affordable housing demonstrate the contradiction. Since at least the second half of the 20th century, the vast majority of actually affordable housing has been created via “filtering”: that is, the falling relative prices of market-rate housing as it ages, or its neighborhood loses social status, often as a result of racial changes. Low-income affordability, where it does exist, is predicated on large portions of the housing market acting as terrible investments.

And to the extent that low-income people do find a subsidized, price-fixed housing unit to live in, that means that they won’t be building any wealth, even as their richer, market-housing-dwelling neighbors do, increasing wealth inequality.

Even the community land trust, which seems to be a way of squaring the wealth-building/affordability circle, ultimately fails. Community land trusts typically provide subsidized or reduced price ownership opportunities to initial buyers, and assure longer term affordability by limiting the resale price of the home. In other words, CLT-financed homes remain affordable only because they restrict how much wealth building the initial owners are allowed to capture. The result is that CLT-financed homes only attract those who couldn’t otherwise purchase a home—which means that the lower-income people in CLTs will be building wealth more slowly than higher-income people in market-rate housing, a fundamentally inequality-increasing situation.

We say we want housing to be cheap and we want home ownership to be a great financial investment. Until we realize that these two objectives are mutually exclusive, we’ll continue to be frustrated by failed and oftentimes counterproductive housing policies."
housing  us  finance  2018  danielhertz  money  economics  generations  sanfrancisco  affordability  markets  capitalism  ownership 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Ask Umbra’s 21-Day Apathy Detox | Grist
"Does this sound like anyone you know? “Dear Umbra: Since November — and really, for as long as I’ve known about the threat of climate change — I’ve been plagued by this sense of hopelessness and foreboding, and I just can’t shake it. I’ve tried it all: Late-night Facebook fights, splurging on fancy salads, retreats in the woods where I scream at a tree. Now I’m just parked on the couch watching Sex and the City reruns. Can I learn to hope again?” Well, you’ve found the right advice columnist. I’m here to quietly change your Facebook password and not-so-quietly offer the best tools, tricks, and advice to help you fight for a planet that doesn’t burn and a future that doesn’t suck. You’ll build civic muscles, find support buddies, and better your community!

DAY 1: Make a plan
DAY 2: Meet your neighbors
DAY 3: Social media makeover
DAY 4: Support local news
DAY 5: Read up on justice
DAY 6: Protest like a pro
DAY 7: Give green
DAY 8: Ditch the excuses
DAY 9: Green your power sources
DAY 10: Fight city hall
DAY 11: Get offline
DAY 12: Drop dirty money
DAY 13: School food fight!
DAY 14: Vote local
DAY 15: Attack your meat habit
DAY 16: Bug your elected rep
DAY 17: Buy less
DAY 18: Push for affordable housing
DAY 19: Talk climate at the bar
DAY 20: Support the arts
DAY 21: Run for office"

[via: https://go.grist.org/webmail/399522/223022613/dcfc605c05717cdbc5988a2c4d1a5fd7309a781b8364159d968011b54bd8b93b]

[See also (from the same newsletter):

https://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/calculator
https://grist.org/briefly/groundbreaking-study-outlines-what-you-can-do-about-climate-change/
https://slate.com/technology/2014/10/plane-carbon-footprint-i-went-a-year-without-flying-to-fight-climate-change.html
https://www.drawdown.org/solutions-summary-by-rank
https://grist.org/article/scientists-calmly-explain-that-civilization-is-at-stake-if-we-dont-act-now/ ]
climtechange  action  apathy  2018  sustainability  change  globalwarming  flights  transportation  food  energy  electricity  power  consumption  conssumrism  politics  activism  housing  justice  climatejustice  socialmedia  protest 
november 2018 by robertogreco
Michael T Spooky 🎃 on Twitter: "1. exurban sprawl due to high housing costs and lack of infill and transit push VMT up. people are commuting to SF from stockton and from Lancaster to LA. 2. that's a picture of the BQE in Brooklyn, not California… htt
"[RE: @Automotive_News Why aren't California emissions dropping? http://dlvr.it/QhXxzs ]

1. exurban sprawl due to high housing costs and lack of infill and transit push VMT up. people are commuting to SF from stockton and from Lancaster to LA.

2. that's a picture of the BQE in Brooklyn, not California

because coastal Californians conceptualize environmentalism as a consumer identity and individual virtue, they are blind to how blocking more people from living near the coast is the root cause of their long-term environmental calamity.

They will happily blame a construction worker priced out of San Francisco who has to drive 2 hours from Stockton every morning for ruining the air quality in the Central Valley, when the worker has no way to opt-out of those circumstances and suffers the worst consequences

Meanwhile, the wealthy who would just simply rather not permit more people to live near them enjoy the cool and clean air from the Pacific and wonder why on Earth these irresponsible middle class people in Fresno don't just buy $80k Teslas"

[See also:

"Bay Area far from progressive on housing"
https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/article/San-Francisco-Bay-Area-is-not-progressive-on-13319525.php ]
housing  emissionss  california  sanfrancisco  bayarea  2018  environment  environmentalism  density  airquality  transportation  publictransit  stockton  centralvalley  class  society  sprawl  virtue  externalization 
october 2018 by robertogreco
Has This Neighborhood in Seoul Figured Out the Secret to Slow Living? - The New York Times
"The decline of vernacular architecture in the face of global urbanization is, of course, hardly new, though traditional Korean hanok are a particularly stark contrast to modern city living. Sit inside one and you immediately notice how sound and light travel differently as they’re absorbed into pine wood beams and diffused through pale mulberry-paper windows. When newly built, hanok are redolent with the bright scent of a coniferous forest; as they age, the fragrance softens toward pu-erh tea and damp bark. Their center of gravity is lower than other homes, creating a cocoon-like sensation; their radiant heating system — the ondol — means that residents sit, work and sleep on the floor.

But while any Korean can describe how a hanok feels, defining what a hanok is has proved elusive. “Hanok” simply translates to “Korean house,” though the term wasn’t used until the late 19th century, which brought the opening of the peninsula’s ports to international trade and, in turn, Western architecture. Before this, the hanok was merely a house. Today’s hanok, with its soot-black scalloped clay tiles laid atop wooden beams, resembles its 15th-century forebears. In 2015, the government legally defined hanok as a “wooden architectural structure built on the basis of the traditional Korean-style framework consisting of columns and purlins and a roof reflecting the Korean traditional architectural style,” leaving acres of room for interpretation."



"Indeed, this nostalgia for a simpler form of living is fueled by the dissatisfaction that many locals have expressed in the face of their country’s breakneck economic growth. Here, digital culture is richer and vaster than anywhere else: South Korea, home to the technology giants Samsung and LG, may have the world’s fastest internet and the highest rate of smartphone use, but amid the country’s accelerated 30-year transition from military state — which it was until the ’80s — to tech superpower, there’s a growing sentiment that somewhere along the road, much of the country’s own culture was lost. The hanok, then, has come to represent a safe vessel for introspection and a reassertion of Korean identity: a romantic return to the national architecture and, therefore, to a mythic, prelapsarian age. Rebuilding these houses is not only a chance to revisit a past that once was, free of influences from globalized monoculture, but also to create a future in Seoul that might have been."



"Tändler designed Lee Eunyoung’s hanok, one of the few one-story buildings in the village. The home is disarmingly simple: a minimally furnished, U-shaped space, encircling a madang. For the four-person family, moving into a hanok wasn’t just an aesthetic choice but an opportunity to atavistically reorient their lives. “We each have five outfits for Monday through Friday, plus one wedding outfit, one funeral outfit and one exercise outfit,” Lee Eunyoung says. The 37-year-old mother doesn’t buy toys for her two young boys, instead giving them paper and crayons or sending them out into the madang to play. This is another way the hanok has made Seoulites reconsider the way they live: By forcing them to decide how much stuff they really need, it inverts the dynamic between the house and the people within it, making the residents accommodate the dwelling, not the other way around. In doing so, they’ve discovered a different, slower way of living. Eventually, Lee Eunyoung’s children will grow up and find their own homes. Maybe they’ll go somewhere modern: a skyscraper, a glass-and-steel penthouse. But Lee says she’ll stay here, in the hanok, for the rest of her life"
slo  seoul  korea  architecture  homes  wood  2018  design  cv  housing  economics  preservation  culture 
september 2018 by robertogreco
Amid a toxic landscape, SF found a home for its elite cops - San Francisco Chronicle
"Sent to work on a Superfund site, they were told they were safe. But the S.F. cops stationed at the old Hunters Point shipyard had good reason to doubt."
sanfrancisco  hunterspoint  housing  police  politics  williebrown  2018  jasonfagone  cynthiadizikes  bikiniatoll  contamination  radiation  shipyards  ww2  wwii  superfundsites  history  development  corruption 
july 2018 by robertogreco
For Housing Affordability, California Must Amend its Constitution - Opinion | Political News | thebaycitybeacon.com
"This fall, California voters may have the opportunity to amend Proposition 13, one of the most regressive tax laws in the country. The 1978 initiative essentially freezes the assessed value of real estate at the time of sale—inevitably establishing and perpetuating wild inequities between the young and old, renters and landlords, immigrants and incumbents. How can California’s political “third rail” be reformed, albeit incrementally, with lasting, sustainable progress? There are several ways.

Evolve California is currently gathering signatures to place a measure on the 2018 ballot to allow re-assessments of commercial aka business properties—a move that could generate ~$10 billion a year for health care, education and other badly need investments in California society.

Another significant contributor to inequality, segregation, and the housing crisis stands unchallenged in 2018.

Article 34 of the California Constitution, enacted by voters in 1950, states that no cities, towns or counties may ”develop, construct or acquire” any “low-rent” housing “unless approved by a majority of qualified electors of the city, town or county” at the ballot box. Practically, this means our local governments and representatives are prevented from directly providing the homes struggling Californians need so direly today.

Article 34’s proponents intended to control the development of large, federally-funded public housing tower projects. The law also restricts local governments from efficiently building even mid-rise public housing or subsidizing low-income housing. A mid-century, single-story city building, or even a vacant lot, could become a five-story building with affordable rents and public services on the ground floor. Alas, we can’t really have that without an expensive ballot referendum and subsequent approval by a majority (or supermajority) of voters.

Moreover, the referendum process makes the provision of publicly-owned housing intractably slow. In California, prudent politicians tend refrain from placing affordable housing bonds on the ballot until they absolutely know the measure can win a supermajority of voters. When municipal coffers fill up with tax revenue or development fees, cities cannot use it to invest in modern mid-rise public housing directly, absent an expensive and risky Article 34-triggered election.

The crux of the issue is this: California’s landowners have become vastly more wealthy and powerful, by government fiat, at the expense of renters. This inequality is unsustainable. Homeowners receive exponentially more in public subsidies, and Proposition 13 tax rates disproportionately reward greater wealth and “incumbency” of property owners, but renters ultimately foot their landlords’ property tax bill. Not only do renters get little to no relief from this regressive system—because of Article 34, they are essentially forced to beg localized pockets of voters for the direct public provision of badly-needed affordable housing. Property owners, on the other hand, do not have to ask for their Mortgage Interest Deduction through a popular referendum every time they claim it.

Say it with me: public housing already exists. It exists largely not as shelter for the neediest, but as vestiges of historic inequality that abstractly, disproportionately rewards legacy homebuyers with secure asset wealth.

There have been concerted efforts to overturn this unfair system for almost as long as we’ve had it. Former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown led two unsuccessful efforts to repeal Article 34 in the ‘70s and ‘80s. The most recent effort, in 1992, was defeated before an entire generation of eligible voters was born, so the current electorate may feel differently about our status quo.

Perhaps its time has finally come.

Since 1950, California courts have whittled down Article 34’s power, and some cities work around the law by delegating the job of affordable housing construction to privately-run nonprofits. But given the severity and depth of our affordable housing shortage, California cannot afford more roadblocks to directly providing publicly-owned affordable housing.

To state the obvious, Article 34 also maintains racial and economic segregation. Requiring voter approval for the development of publicly-funded affordable rental housing means that racially and economically homogenous communities can effectively veto integration. The electorates of San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley have consistently voted to approve low-income housing placed on the ballot at regular intervals. Compare the generosity of those voters to, say, communities in Marin County or Palo Alto—I can guarantee that the results will not surprise you.

Governing by popular referendum may sound ideal, but California’s experience with direct governance over the last 107 years has demonstrated that local pluralities of voters can sometimes succumb to fear, uncertainty, and outright animus towards marginalized groups.

If you think this is all ancient history, think again: in 1994, nearly 59% of California voters approved of Proposition 187, designed to bar undocumented people from accessing public services like health care and education, prior to it being ruled unconstitutional by the courts. More recently, California voters repudiated marriage equality by approving Proposition 8 in 2008, only for it also to be overturned by jurists. In 2016, California voters brought back the death penalty.

Occasionally, the state’s voters have been unwise enough to approve unconstitutional legislation, and federal courts have found such laws especially offensive when they discriminate against political minorities in the exercise of civil rights or use of public programs, as was the case with Prop 187. Unfortunately, the United States Supreme Court found no such violation by Article 34 of equal protection under the 14th Amendment in James v. Valtierra (1971).

Renters from Santa Clara and San Mateo counties sought to have Article 34 invalidated on the basis of racial and wealth discrimination. Instead, Justice Hugo Black, writing for the 6-3 majority found such mandatory referendums on low-rent and public housing to indicate a “devotion to democracy, not to bias, discrimination, or prejudice.” (If only!)

Article 34 of the California Constitution, much like the general political aversion to subsidized housing, is explicitly rooted in prejudice against poor people, people of color, and immigrants writ large. The history is stark and ugly, and it is high time for California to face it head-on. That history, as it unfolded in Oakland, will be the subject of Part 2 in this series."
housing  california  policy  racism  class  2018  1950  article34  inequality  segregation  race  proposition13  sanfrancisco  oakland  bayarea  publichousing  affordability  taxes  williebrown  berkeley 
june 2018 by robertogreco
A Cluttered Life: Middle-Class Abundance - YouTube
"(Visit: http://www.uctv.tv) Follow a team of UCLA anthropologists as they venture into the stuffed-to-capacity homes of dual income, middle-class American families in order to truly understand the food, toys, and clutter that fill them. Series: "A Cluttered Life: Middle-Class Abundance" [11/2013] [Humanities] [Show ID: 25712]"

[via: https://twitter.com/xraytext/status/999109157612646406 ]

[See also: Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century: 32 Families Open Their Doors
http://www.ioa.ucla.edu/press/life-at-home

and "Americans can spend a majority of their time in a few spaces in their home and still want large homes"
https://legallysociable.com/2018/06/03/americans-can-spend-a-majority-of-their-time-in-a-few-spaces-in-their-home-and-still-want-large-homes/

via: https://twitter.com/amandakhurley/status/1003283050782810113 ]
us  consumerism  consumption  hoarding  possessions  excess  2013  children  toys  accumulation  shopping  families  homes  housing  abundance  ethnography 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Opinion | Why the Wealth Gap Hits Families the Hardest - The New York Times
"Why did older households fare better? First, older Americans’ incomes were largely stable. Their primary source of income, Social Security, is indexed to inflation. With stable income, fewer older people dipped into savings to pay their bills, and they had more money to invest. Second, most of them bought their homes before the housing bubble, and third, they graduated from college before the era of high student loan debt. Thanks to these three factors, the median net worth of poor and middle-class older people rose by 70 percent from 1989 to 2013.

There are a few policy changes that may help. Increasing the purchasing power of Pell Grants and then indexing it to rising tuition costs would be a start. The government could also expand tax credits that benefit families, and compensate families who were victims of predatory lending practices.

But the magnitude of the problem is so great that these measures are not enough. The United States needs a fundamental rethinking of public policy priorities to improve the lives of the next generation of children."
2018  wealth  inequality  us  economics  families  elderly  income  education  highered  highereducation  housing  homes 
may 2018 by robertogreco
In Los Angeles, mansions get bigger as homeless get closer
"The capital of America's second Gilded Age is Los Angeles, where homes worth tens of millions of dollars look out over a city in which the middle class struggles to afford shelter and the number of homeless increases."
us  california  inequality  cities  losangeles  rickhampson  2018  economics  disparity  homes  housing  middleclass  homeless  homelessness 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Visualizing Transit-Rich Housing: What Would SB 827 Really Look Like?
"On January 4th, 2018, California State Senator Scott Wiener announced a series of proposed housing bills. By far the most attention has been directed at Senate Bill 827 (SB 827), which would override local zoning controls on height, density, parking minimums, and design review on properties within a certain distance of major public transit infrastructure.

I was really interested what that would look like on the ground in California, so I spent a few days attempting to make a map that would show how SB 827 would affect zoning as currently proposed. Please note that I am not an expert in this area, and that this map should only be used as a beginning point for the policy discussion around the bill and not for making any important decisions. I cannot state strongly enough that there are multiple errors with this map, due to missing and incorrect data, probable misinterpretations of the proposed law as written, bugs in my software, and multiple other reasons.

I make no warranties as to the correctness of this map, and by using this map, you agree that you understand that.

That all being said, let's look at the map! Feel free to play with it and scroll around the state, and then join me below the map for some discussion of SB 827 and what this map can tell us."
sb827  california  urban  urbanism  policy  housing  transit  publictransit  transportation  2018  scottwiener  zoning  cities  development  maps  mapping 
february 2018 by robertogreco
CalEarth
"Cal-Earth, the California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture, is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to providing solutions to the human need for shelter through research, development, and education in earth architecture. We envision a world in which every person is empowered to build a safe and sustainable home with their own hands, using the earth under their feet."
architecture  housing  shelter  sustainability  california  hesperia 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Considerations On Cost Disease | Slate Star Codex
[via: https://meaningness.com/metablog/post-apocalyptic-health-care ]

"IV.

I mentioned politics briefly above, but they probably deserve more space here. Libertarian-minded people keep talking about how there’s too much red tape and the economy is being throttled. And less libertarian-minded people keep interpreting it as not caring about the poor, or not understanding that government has an important role in a civilized society, or as a “dog whistle” for racism, or whatever. I don’t know why more people don’t just come out and say “LOOK, REALLY OUR MAIN PROBLEM IS THAT ALL THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS COST TEN TIMES AS MUCH AS THEY USED TO FOR NO REASON, PLUS THEY SEEM TO BE GOING DOWN IN QUALITY, AND NOBODY KNOWS WHY, AND WE’RE MOSTLY JUST DESPERATELY FLAILING AROUND LOOKING FOR SOLUTIONS HERE.” State that clearly, and a lot of political debates take on a different light.

For example: some people promote free universal college education, remembering a time when it was easy for middle class people to afford college if they wanted it. Other people oppose the policy, remembering a time when people didn’t depend on government handouts. Both are true! My uncle paid for his tuition at a really good college just by working a pretty easy summer job – not so hard when college cost a tenth of what it did now. The modern conflict between opponents and proponents of free college education is over how to distribute our losses. In the old days, we could combine low taxes with widely available education. Now we can’t, and we have to argue about which value to sacrifice.

Or: some people get upset about teachers’ unions, saying they must be sucking the “dynamism” out of education because of increasing costs. Others people fiercely defend them, saying teachers are underpaid and overworked. Once again, in the context of cost disease, both are obviously true. The taxpayers are just trying to protect their right to get education as cheaply as they used to. The teachers are trying to protect their right to make as much money as they used to. The conflict between the taxpayers and the teachers’ unions is about how to distribute losses; somebody is going to have to be worse off than they were a generation ago, so who should it be?

And the same is true to greater or lesser degrees in the various debates over health care, public housing, et cetera.

Imagine if tomorrow, the price of water dectupled. Suddenly people have to choose between drinking and washing dishes. Activists argue that taking a shower is a basic human right, and grumpy talk show hosts point out that in their day, parents taught their children not to waste water. A coalition promotes laws ensuring government-subsidized free water for poor families; a Fox News investigative report shows that some people receiving water on the government dime are taking long luxurious showers. Everyone gets really angry and there’s lots of talk about basic compassion and personal responsibility and whatever but all of this is secondary to why does water costs ten times what it used to?

I think this is the basic intuition behind so many people, even those who genuinely want to help the poor, are afraid of “tax and spend” policies. In the context of cost disease, these look like industries constantly doubling, tripling, or dectupling their price, and the government saying “Okay, fine,” and increasing taxes however much it costs to pay for whatever they’re demanding now.

If we give everyone free college education, that solves a big social problem. It also locks in a price which is ten times too high for no reason. This isn’t fair to the government, which has to pay ten times more than it should. It’s not fair to the poor people, who have to face the stigma of accepting handouts for something they could easily have afforded themselves if it was at its proper price. And it’s not fair to future generations if colleges take this opportunity to increase the cost by twenty times, and then our children have to subsidize that.

I’m not sure how many people currently opposed to paying for free health care, or free college, or whatever, would be happy to pay for health care that cost less, that was less wasteful and more efficient, and whose price we expected to go down rather than up with every passing year. I expect it would be a lot.

And if it isn’t, who cares? The people who want to help the poor have enough political capital to spend eg $500 billion on Medicaid; if that were to go ten times further, then everyone could get the health care they need without any more political action needed. If some government program found a way to give poor people good health insurance for a few hundred dollars a year, college tuition for about a thousand, and housing for only two-thirds what it costs now, that would be the greatest anti-poverty advance in history. That program is called “having things be as efficient as they were a few decades ago”.

V.

In 1930, economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that his grandchildrens’ generation would have a 15 hour work week. At the time, it made sense. GDP was rising so quickly that anyone who could draw a line on a graph could tell that our generation would be four or five times richer than his. And the average middle-class person in his generation felt like they were doing pretty well and had most of what they needed. Why wouldn’t they decide to take some time off and settle for a lifestyle merely twice as luxurious as Keynes’ own?

Keynes was sort of right. GDP per capita is 4-5x greater today than in his time. Yet we still work forty hour weeks, and some large-but-inconsistently-reported percent of Americans (76? 55? 47?) still live paycheck to paycheck.

And yes, part of this is because inequality is increasing and most of the gains are going to the rich. But this alone wouldn’t be a disaster; we’d get to Keynes’ utopia a little slower than we might otherwise, but eventually we’d get there. Most gains going to the rich means at least some gains are going to the poor. And at least there’s a lot of mainstream awareness of the problem.

I’m more worried about the part where the cost of basic human needs goes up faster than wages do. Even if you’re making twice as much money, if your health care and education and so on cost ten times as much, you’re going to start falling behind. Right now the standard of living isn’t just stagnant, it’s at risk of declining, and a lot of that is student loans and health insurance costs and so on.

What’s happening? I don’t know and I find it really scary."
scottalexander  economics  education  history  politics  policy  prices  inflation  highered  highereducation  colleges  universities  bureaucracy  costdisease  healthcare  spending  us  government  medicine  lifeexpectancy  salaries  teachers  teaching  schools  regulation  tylercowen  poverty  inequality  litigation  litigiousness  labor  housing  rent  homes  subways  transportation  health 
january 2018 by robertogreco
OHCHR | Statement on Visit to the USA, by Professor Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights*
[See also:

"A journey through a land of extreme poverty: welcome to America"
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/dec/15/america-extreme-poverty-un-special-rapporteur

"Extreme poverty in America: read the UN special monitor's report"
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/15/extreme-poverty-america-un-special-monitor-report

"Trump turning US into 'world champion of extreme inequality', UN envoy warns"
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/15/america-un-extreme-poverty-trump-republicans ]

[Thread by Allen Tan:
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/942934883244171264

"if a progressive party wanted to build a platform for 2020, it could just copy paste this

if a newsroom wanted to cover US poverty in a systematic and rigorous way, here is the blueprint

this is how you make a case for a social safety net when you don't assume that everyone is already on board with you ideologically

1) human rights
“the US is alone among developed countries in insisting that while human rights are of fundamental importance, they do not include rights that guard against dying of hunger, dying from lack of access to affordable healthcare, or growing up in…total deprivation.”

2) debunking myth of poor people as lazy or scammers
“poor people I met from among the 40 million living in poverty were overwhelmingly either persons who had been born into poverty, or those who had been thrust there by circumstances largely beyond their control such as…”

“…physical or mental disabilities, divorce, family breakdown, illness, old age, unlivable wages, or discrimination in the job market.”

3) disenfranchisement in a democratic society (just gonna screengrab this one)

4) children
“In 2016, 18% of children – some 13.3 million – were living in poverty, with children comprising 32.6% of all people in poverty.”

etc, etc, etc

stay for the extended section on homelessness and its criminalization

re: drugs testing [screen capture]

treating taxation as a dirty word and third rail means the state must raise money on the backs of the poor [screen capture]

Ok one last thing and then I’m done:
notice how you can talk about poverty and not make it just about white people, weird"]
philipalston  us  poverty  un  himanrights  policy  politics  inequality  2017  donaldtrump  mississippi  alabama  california  puertorico  housing  georgia  exceptionalism  democracy  employment  work  socialsafetynet  society  incarceration  warondrugs  criminalization  children  health  healthcare  dentalcare  disability  race  racism  fraud  privatization  government  governance  environment  sustainability  taxes  taxreform  welfare  hunger  food  medicare  medicaid  chip  civilsociety  allentan  journalism  homeless  homelessness 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Millennials Are Screwed - The Huffington Post
"In what seems like some kind of perverse joke, nearly every form of welfare now available to young people is attached to traditional employment. Unemployment benefits and workers’ compensation are limited to employees. The only major expansions of welfare since 1980 have been to the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, both of which pay wages back to workers who have already collected them.

Back when we had decent jobs and strong unions, it (kind of) made sense to provide things like health care and retirement savings through employer benefits. But now, for freelancers and temps and short-term contractors—i.e., us—those benefits might as well be Monopoly money. Forty-one percent of working millennials aren’t even eligible for retirement plans through their companies."



"The most striking thing about the problems of millennials is how intertwined and self-reinforcing and everywhere they are.

Over the eight months I spent reporting this story, I spent a few evenings at a youth homeless shelter and met unpaid interns and gig-economy bike messengers saving for their first month of rent. During the days I interviewed people like Josh, a 33-year-old affordable housing developer who mentioned that his mother struggles to make ends meet as a contractor in a profession that used to be reliable government work. Every Thanksgiving, she reminds him that her retirement plan is a “401(j)”—J for Josh.

Fixing what has been done to us is going to take more than tinkering. Even if economic growth picks up and unemployment continues to fall, we’re still on a track toward ever more insecurity for young people. The “Leave It To Beaver” workforce, in which everyone has the same job from graduation until gold watch, is not coming back. Any attempt to recreate the economic conditions the boomers had is just sending lifeboats to a whirlpool.

But still, there is already a foot-long list of overdue federal policy changes that would at least begin to fortify our future and reknit the safety net. Even amid the awfulness of our political moment, we can start to build a platform to rally around. Raise the minimum wage and tie it to inflation. Roll back anti-union laws to give workers more leverage against companies that treat them as if they’re disposable. Tilt the tax code away from the wealthy. Right now, rich people can write off mortgage interest on their second home and expenses related to being a landlord or (I'm not kidding) owning a racehorse. The rest of us can’t even deduct student loans or the cost of getting an occupational license.

Some of the trendiest Big Policy Fixes these days are efforts to rebuild government services from the ground up. The ur-example is the Universal Basic Income, a no-questions-asked monthly cash payment to every single American. The idea is to establish a level of basic subsistence below which no one in a civilized country should be allowed to fall. The venture capital firm Y Combinator is planning a pilot program that would give $1,000 each month to 1,000 low- and middle-income participants. And while, yes, it’s inspiring that a pro-poor policy idea has won the support of D.C. wonks and Ayn Rand tech bros alike, it’s worth noting that existing programs like food stamps, TANF, public housing and government-subsidized day care are not inherently ineffective. They have been intentionally made so. It would be nice if the people excited by the shiny new programs would expend a little effort defending and expanding the ones we already have.

But they’re right about one thing: We’re going to need government structures that respond to the way we work now. “Portable benefits,” an idea that’s been bouncing around for years, attempts to break down the zero-sum distinction between full-time employees who get government-backed worker protections and independent contractors who get nothing. The way to solve this, when you think about it, is ridiculously simple: Attach benefits to work instead of jobs. The existing proposals vary, but the good ones are based on the same principle: For every hour you work, your boss chips in to a fund that pays out when you get sick, pregnant, old or fired. The fund follows you from job to job, and companies have to contribute to it whether you work there a day, a month or a year.

Seriously, you should sign up. It doesn’t cost anything.

Small-scale versions of this idea have been offsetting the inherent insecurity of the gig economy since long before we called it that. Some construction workers have an “hour bank” that fills up when they’re working and provides benefits even when they’re between jobs. Hollywood actors and technical staff have health and pension plans that follow them from movie to movie. In both cases, the benefits are negotiated by unions, but they don’t have to be. Since 1962, California has offered “elective coverage” insurance that allows independent contractors to file for payouts if their kids get sick or if they get injured on the job. “The offloading of risks onto workers and families was not a natural occurrence,” says Hacker, the Yale political scientist. “It was a deliberate effort. And we can roll it back the same way.”

Another no-brainer experiment is to expand jobs programs. As decent opportunities have dwindled and wage inequality has soared, the government’s message to the poorest citizens has remained exactly the same: You’re not trying hard enough. But at the same time, the government has not actually attempted to give people jobs on a large scale since the 1970s.

Because most of us grew up in a world without them, jobs programs can sound overly ambitious or suspiciously Leninist. In fact, they’re neither. In 2010, as part of the stimulus, Mississippi launched a program that simply reimbursed employers for the wages they paid to eligible new hires—100 percent at first, then tapering down to 25 percent. The initiative primarily reached low-income mothers and the long-term unemployed. Nearly half of the recipients were under 30.

The results were impressive. For the average participant, the subsidized wages lasted only 13 weeks. Yet the year after the program ended, long-term unemployed workers were still earning nearly nine times more than they had the previous year. Either they kept the jobs they got through the subsidies or the experience helped them find something new. Plus, the program was a bargain. Subsidizing more than 3,000 jobs cost $22 million, which existing businesses doled out to workers who weren’t required to get special training. It wasn’t an isolated success, either. A Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality review of 15 jobs programs from the past four decades concluded that they were “a proven, promising, and underutilized tool for lifting up disadvantaged workers.” The review found that subsidizing employment raised wages and reduced long-term unemployment. Children of the participants even did better at school.

But before I get carried away listing urgent and obvious solutions for the plight of millennials, let’s pause for a bit of reality: Who are we kidding? Donald Trump, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are not interested in our innovative proposals to lift up the systemically disadvantaged. Their entire political agenda, from the Scrooge McDuck tax reform bill to the ongoing assassination attempt on Obamacare, is explicitly designed to turbocharge the forces that are causing this misery. Federally speaking, things are only going to get worse.

Which is why, for now, we need to take the fight to where we can win it.

Over the last decade, states and cities have made remarkable progress adapting to the new economy. Minimum-wage hikes have been passed by voters in nine states, even dark red rectangles like Nebraska and South Dakota. Following a long campaign by the Working Families Party and other activist organizations, eight states and the District of Columbia have instituted guaranteed sick leave. Bills to combat exploitative scheduling practices have been introduced in more than a dozen state legislatures. San Francisco now gives retail and fast-food workers the right to learn their schedules two weeks in advance and get compensated for sudden shift changes. Local initiatives are popular, effective and our best hope of preventing the country’s slide into “Mad Max”-style individualism.

The court system, the only branch of our government currently functioning, offers other encouraging avenues. Class-action lawsuits and state and federal investigations have resulted in a wave of judgments against companies that “misclassify” their workers as contractors. FedEx, which requires some of its drivers to buy their own trucks and then work as independent contractors, recently reached a $227 million settlement with more than 12,000 plaintiffs in 19 states. In 2014, a startup called Hello Alfred—Uber for chores, basically—announced that it would rely exclusively on direct hires instead of “1099s.” Part of the reason, its CEO told Fast Company, was that the legal and financial risk of relying on contractors had gotten too high. A tsunami of similar lawsuits over working conditions and wage theft would be enough to force the same calculation onto every CEO in America.

And then there’s housing, where the potential—and necessity—of local action is obvious. This doesn’t just mean showing up to city council hearings to drown out the NIMBYs (though let’s definitely do that). It also means ensuring that the entire system for approving new construction doesn’t prioritize homeowners at the expense of everyone else. Right now, permitting processes examine, in excruciating detail, how one new building will affect rents, noise, traffic, parking, shadows and squirrel populations. But they never investigate the consequences of not building anything—rising prices, displaced renters, low-wage workers commuting hours from outside the sprawl.

Some cities are finally … [more]
economics  housing  retirement  inequality  highered  highereducation  employment  wealth  income  politics  generations  babyboomers  michaelhobbes  poverty  policy  anirudhkrishna  unions  healthcare  cities  socialmobility  socialsafetynet  zoning  urban  nimbys  urbanization  unemployment  nimbyism  boomers 
december 2017 by robertogreco
Gautam Bhan: A bold plan to house 100 million people | TED Talk | TED.com
"Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata -- all the major cities across India have one great thing in common: they welcome people arriving in search of work. But what lies at the other end of such openness and acceptance? Sadly, a shortage of housing for an estimated 100 million people, many of whom end up living in informal settlements. Gautam Bhan, a human settlement expert and researcher, is boldly reimagining a solution to this problem. He shares a new vision of urban India where everyone has a safe, sturdy home. (In Hindi with English subtitles)"

[via: "lovely @GautamBhan80's short, succinct explanation of our cities' relationship with informal housing deserves whatsapp virality"
https://twitter.com/supriyan/status/940453565276987394 ]
urbanization  urban  urbanism  housing  slums  settlements  india  gautambhan  2017  eviction  land  property  homes  place  cities  urbanplanning  planning  thailand  informal  inequality  growth  squatting  class 
december 2017 by robertogreco
An interactive view of the housing boom and bust
"This map was originally published in September 2013 and has been updated annually as new Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data become available. This 2017 update incorporates 2016 mortgage originations and includes information on purchase and refinance loans.

Since 2008, the tight credit environment has constrained mortgage lending and disproportionately affected black and Hispanic households. As a result, these communities found it hard to take advantage of the low home prices and low interest rates that followed the housing market crash, missing an important opportunity to build wealth through homeownership. Credit remains tight today while home prices have reached their precrisis peak, further limiting affordable housing options for minority homebuyers."
housing  us  race  racism  homeownership  2017  2008  maps  mapping  data  mortgages 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Trump’s Inconvenient Racial Truth - The New York Times
"Liberals quickly lambasted Ryan for those remarks. But far too often, the way Democrats talk to, and about, black Americans is indistinguishable from the way their Republican counterparts do. And President Obama has been as guilty as anyone. A year before Ryan made his remarks, Obama delivered a commencement address at the historically black Morehouse College, where he warned the graduates at the prestigious all-male school that they shouldn’t use racism as an excuse, and to be good fathers.

Politicians regularly deploy this type of shaming when referring to, or even when addressing, black Americans. But it’s hard to fathom a politician, Democrat or Republican, standing before a predominately white crowd in a sagging old coal town, and blaming the community’s economic woes on poor parenting or lack of work ethic or a victim mentality. Those Americans, white Americans, are worthy of government help. Their problems are not of their own making, but systemic, institutional, out of their control. They are never blamed for their lot in life. They have had jobs snatched away by bad federal policy, their opportunities stolen by inept politicians."



"What I am saying is that when Trump claims Democratic governance has failed black people, when he asks “the blacks” what they have to lose, he is asking a poorly stated version of a question that many black Americans have long asked themselves. What dividends, exactly, has their decades-long loyalty to the Democratic ticket paid them? By brushing Trump’s criticism off as merely cynical or clueless rantings, we are missing an opportunity to have a real discussion of the failures of progressivism and Democratic leadership when it comes to black Americans."



"In the intervening years, modern Democrats have been far more likely to support social programs that help the poor, who are disproportionately black, and to support civil rights policies. But since Johnson left office, Democrats have done little to address the systemic issues — housing and school segregation — that keep so many black Americans in economic distress and that make true equality elusive. At the federal level, despite the fact that the National Fair Housing Alliance estimates that black Americans experiences millions of incidents of housing discrimination every year, Democrats, like Republicans, have avoided strong enforcement of federal fair-housing laws that would allow black families to move to opportunity-rich areas. Both Democrats and Republicans have failed to pursue school-integration policies that would ensure black children gain access to the good schools white kids attend. In the 1970s and ’80s, Trump battled housing-discrimination lawsuits, while Senator Clinton was noticeably quiet when Westchester County, N.Y., a county that twice voted decidedly for Obama, fought a court order to integrate its whitest towns, including Chappaqua, the 2-percent-black town she calls home.

Instead of seeking aggressive racial-equality initiatives, Democrats too often have opted for a sort of trickle-down liberalism. If we work to strengthen unions, that will trickle down to you. If we work to strengthen health care, that will trickle down to you. If we work to make all schools better, that will trickle down to you. After decades of Democratic loyalty, too many black Americans are still awaiting that trickle."



"Regardless of how you feel about Trump, on this one thing he is right: The Democratic Party has taken black Americans for granted. The problem is — and this is where Trump’s rhetoric is just that, rhetoric — black people aren’t loyal Democrats because they don’t know any better. They are making an informed decision. As Theodore R. Johnson, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy and an expert on black voting behavior, points out in his research, black Americans are an electoral monolith out of necessity. Black people care about the environment and the economy and international issues, and they generally fall across the spectrum on a range of issues, just like all other human beings. But while the Democratic Party might be accused of upholding the racial status quo, the Republican Party has a long track record of working to restrict the remedies available to increase housing and school integration and equal opportunities in employment and college admissions. And most critical, Republicans have passed laws that have made the hallmark of full citizenship — the right to vote — more difficult for black Americans. Since first securing the right to vote, black Americans have had to be single-issue voters — and that single issue is basic citizenship rights. Maintaining these rights will always and forever transcend any other issue. And so black Americans can never jump ship to a party they understand as trying to erode the hard-fought rights black citizens have died to secure."
nikolehannah-jones  2016  donaldtrump  race  racism  us  politics  policy  hillaryclinton  billclinton  democrats  statusquo  theodorejohnson  inequality  housing  republicans  barackobama 
october 2017 by robertogreco
How a North Carolina School Segregated Again - CityLab
"From the mid-1970s until the early 1990s, Charlotte was the most desegregated major school system in the country, and West Charlotte High School was its flagship. A 1969 federal ruling mandated that each Charlotte school’s student body be 70 percent white and 30 percent black, to match the system-wide demographic.

After a few rocky years, families, students, teachers, and administrators settled in to busing and integration, and Charlotte became a national success story. In 1974, when Boston erupted in violence over its first year of full-scale, court-ordered busing, West Charlotte High hosted students from South Boston so they could see integration in action.

But in 1999, a year after Grundy decided to pen West Charlotte High’s story, a federal judge ordered the city to stop using race in school assignments. Busing ceased. “It was shocking,” says Grundy.

Today, West Charlotte High is 85 percent African American, and almost 83 percent of its students are economically disadvantaged.

Accordingly, Grundy’s book, Color and Character: West Charlotte High and the American Struggle over Educational Equality, published this month, explores not only West Charlotte High’s integration success, but also its subsequent devolution through legislation, increased inequality, and urban displacement.

CityLab caught up with Grundy to talk about the school’s trajectory and what residents can do to foster more equal schools in their communities.

What made West Charlotte High’s integration work?

West Charlotte was the only historically black high school left in the city, and there was a lot of conflict over which white kids were going to have go to it. In the end, a group of wealthy, white parents decided that they were going to put their kids on those buses, and this served as a catalyst. There was a strong sense among them that they were doing something bigger than themselves and their children. The city’s leaders also made integration a priority, as having Charlotte’s schools in racial turmoil did not advance the city’s reputation on the national stage.

It was tough for the West Charlotte community to see their school change. It was an elite black school with strong black teachers. But they welcomed the white students.

What were some successes of West Charlotte High School as an integrated school?

Having the children of powerful parents brought more resources to the school, which strengthened its materials and curriculum. It also had great music and drama programs and sports teams, and the community felt that the school's diversity played a key role in that success.

And if you talk to alumni from the heyday of integration, they all say how much it meant to them to know different types of kids. West Charlotte was very balanced: The black and white students came from a variety of economic backgrounds, and an ESL program brought immigrants as well. No one was dominant, and that meant kids felt that they could try on different identities, be part of different groups.

What about the challenges?

There were stereotypes and misconceptions to overcome. It took work to integrate some of the extracurricular activities, and especially to make sure that black students were in advanced classes.

The other problem, even as schools were integrating, is that Charlotte itself became more segregated by income and race. In the 1980s we see the income gap start to widen, as Ronald Reagan’s economic policies—tax cuts, decreased social spending, deregulation—benefit the well-off and harm the poor. Developers built housing for affluent, mostly white residents in the suburbs. Low-income housing for mostly black residents became even more clustered in the city’s center. These changes made it more difficult to bus, because blacks and whites were living farther from each other. [Editors’ note: See the maps below for an illustration of how segregation increased in Charlotte from 1970 to 1990.]

How did the increase in economic and spatial inequality contribute to West Charlotte High’s resegregation?

The city reassigned students to schools primarily based on where they lived. Because of the concentration of poverty in the city center, West Charlotte's population ended up as the city’s poorest and least diverse.

This occurred at a time when parents were feeling more anxiety about schooling, with a greater focus on the well-being of individual children rather than larger social goals. There was a scramble to get kids to what were seen as the better schools, and when families from better-off areas were given the choice to continue sending their children to West Charlotte, most didn’t. And many more-prosperous families who were newly assigned to West Charlotte sent their children to magnet programs instead. The school was faced with educating a large number of the city’s most challenged children.

For a long time, policymakers were operating with the idea that a school’s demographics didn’t matter, that the right combination of training, testing, and accountability could lift up any school. Charlotte has tried a lot of that, and it doesn’t work. Schools with high concentrations of low-income students are trying to counter all the challenges in those students’ lives—and they just can’t. There’s a lot of stress and instability when you’re poor. For instance, it’s hard for low-income families to find affordable housing, so a lot of families are constantly moving. That’s hard on kids.

There are dedicated, hardworking teachers at these schools, as well as students who overcome great obstacles and succeed. But there’s also a lot of turnover. It’s hard to recruit experienced teachers, and the less-experienced teachers tend to burn out quickly or move to higher-income schools as soon as they can. High-stakes standardized testing creates a huge amount of stress, and it often turns into an exercise in shame and punishment when scores are low.

I strongly believe that if you want schools to be equal, they have to be racially and economically integrated. The community as a whole has to have a stake in all the schools. But there’s so much emphasis on choice now—on making what you think is the best individual decision for your child—rather than working toward a common good. Choice and competition mainly benefit families and communities that already have resources. And there isn't much appetite at the state or federal level to pursue integration. Nor is there a desire among leaders at any level to challenge the market forces that are increasing inequality. Without some of these larger shifts, there’s a limit to what schools can do.

So, in many ways, it doesn’t seem like change is coming down the pike. But we can start with small, local efforts. For instance, the Charlotte school board recently decided to pair two sets of schools—two low poverty and two high poverty—that are relatively close to each other. In each pairing, all the students will go to one school for K-2 and the other for 3-5. Some parents will send their kids to private or charter schools to avoid the arrangement. But others will do it.

It isn’t nearly enough, but we have to start somewhere."

[See also:
"The Resegregation of Jefferson County: What one Alabama town’s attempt to secede from its school district tells us about the fragile progress of racial integration in America."
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/magazine/the-resegregation-of-jefferson-county.html ]
schools  publicschools  integration  segregation  histoy  race  racism  us  charlotte  northcarolina  history  housing  2017  mimikirk  inequality  equality  pamelagrundy  economics  choice  magnetschools  competition  policy  politics  society  regression  charterschools 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Yes, You Can Build Your Way to Affordable Housing | Sightline Institute
"Houston, Tokyo, Chicago, Montreal, Vienna, Singapore, Germany—all these places have built their way to affordable housing. They’re not alone. Housing economist Issi Romem has detailed the numerous American metro areas that have done the same: Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Las Vegas, Orlando, Phoenix, Raleigh, and more. Many more. They have done so mostly by sprawling like Houston.

In fact, Romem’s principal finding is that US cities divide into three groups: expansive cities (sprawling cities where housing is relatively affordable such as those just listed), expensive cities (which sprawl much less but are more expensive because they resist densification, typified by San Francisco), and legacy cities (like Detroit, which are not growing).

Romem’s research makes clear that the challenge for Cascadian cities is to densify their way to affordability—a rare feat on this continent. Chicago and Montreal are the best examples mentioned above.

In Cascadia’s cities, though, an ascendant left-leaning political approach tends to discount such private-market urbanism for social democratic approaches like that in Vienna.

Unfortunately, the Vienna model, like the Singapore one, may not be replicable in Cascadia. Massive public spending and massive public control work in both Vienna and Singapore, but they depend on long histories of public-sector involvement in housing plus entrenched institutions and national laws that are beyond the pale of North American politics. No North American jurisdiction has ever come close to building enough public or nonprofit housing to keep up with aggregate housing demand. This statement is not to disparage subsidized housing for those at the bottom of the economic ladder or with special needs. Cascadia’s social housing programs provide better residences for hundreds of thousands of people who would otherwise be in substandard homes or on the streets.

But acknowledging the implausibility of the Vienna model for Cascadia may help us have realistic expectations about how large (well, small) a contribution public and nonprofit housing can make in solving the region’s housing shortage writ large. Accepting that reality may help us guard against wishful thinking.

Because adopting a blinkered view of housing models is dangerous. Adopting the view that Vienna, for example, is the one true path to the affordable city—a view that fits well with a strand of urban Cascadia’s current left-leaning politics, which holds that profit-seeking in homebuilding is suspect and that capitalist developers, rather than being necessary means to the end of abundant housing, are to be resisted in favor of virtuous not-for-profit or public ventures—runs the risk of taking us to a different city entirely.

In the political, legal, and institutional context of North America, trying to tame the mega-billion-dollar home building industry—and the mega-trillion dollar real-estate asset value held by homeowners and companies—in order to steer the entire housing economy toward a Viennese public-and-nonprofit model may end up taking us not to Vienna at all but to a different city. It might end up delivering us to San Francisco. So . . ."
housing  houston  tokyo  chicago  montreal  vienna  singapore  germany  economics  policy  cascadia  sanfrancisco  seattle  phoenix  atlanta  chrarlotte  dallas  lasvegas  orlando  raleigh  sprawl  northamerica  us  canada 
september 2017 by robertogreco
What you need to know about California's housing crisis | CALmatters
"Half the state’s households struggle to afford the roof over their heads. Homeownership—once a staple of the California dream—is at its lowest rate since World War II. Nearly 70 percent of poor Californians see the majority of their paychecks go immediately to escalating rents.

This month, state lawmakers are debating a long-delayed housing package.

Here’s what you need to know about one of California’s most vexing issues."
california  sanfrancisco  sanjose  losangeles  sandiego  housing  economics  policy  politics  benchristopher  mattlevin  2017  inequality  rent 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Boom-mates: How Empty Nesters Could Help Ease a Housing Shortage - Trulia's Blog
"It’s a tale of two generations. In America’s most expensive housing markets millennials struggle to find affordable housing. Meanwhile, nine in 10 retirement-age baby boomers and older Americans want to stay in their homes even as costs rise.

Prices are high, inventory is low, and new housing growth is stagnating. But what if these two generations got together to solve their mutual housing-related problems?

We looked at the 100 largest housing markets to find people living in homes with at least two bedrooms more than the number of occupants ­– to account for a guest room or office – owned by the oldest Americans. We found tens of thousands of homes have nearly 3.6 million unoccupied rooms that could be rented out.

For retired or soon-to-retire boomers, extra rooms are an opportunity to supplement income and offset cost-of-living increases – as much as an additional $14,000 a year. For many older Americans, renting a room provides an economic boost that may help them stay in a home longer."
housing  housingcrisis  cities  us  homes  2017  emptynesters  babyboomers  boomers 
july 2017 by robertogreco
E744: Initialized Capital Operating Partner & TechCrunch contributor Kim-Mai Cutler on affordable housing crisis in San Francisco Bay Area at intersection of race, class, & Silicon Valley | This Week In Startups
"Housing has become a hot button issue in the Bay Area, and in fact, the world, with homes being unaffordable and the ability to produce more housing being throttled by a number of interests. Housing in the Bay Area has become more expensive than anywhere else in the country, and the ability to rent an apartment has reached a level that has exceeded NYC. Our guest today, Kim-Mai Cutler, is a Bay Area native, Initialized Capital Operating Partner, TechCrunch contributor, and has become an authority on housing in the Bay Area. Join us as she explains the affordable housing crisis, the structural issue of power, the causes and consequences of transit fragmentation, gentrification and income inequality, and more."
housing  2017  california  kim-maicutler  sanfrancisco  losangeles  nyc  oakland  sanmateo  paloalto  cupertino  history  transportation  bart  bayarea  gentrification  policy  politics  proposition13  inequality 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Unspeakable Realities Block Universal Health Coverage In America
[See also: "The Fight for Health Care Has Always Been About Civil Rights: In dismantling Obamacare and slashing Medicaid, Republicans would strike a blow against signature victories for racial equality in America."https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/06/the-fight-for-health-care-is-really-all-about-civil-rights/531855/ ]

"Election 2016 has prompted a wave of head-scratching on the left. Counties Trump won by staggering margins will be among the hardest hit by the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Millions of white voters who supported Donald Trump stand to lose their access to health coverage because of their vote.

Individual profiles of Trump voters feed this baffling narrative. A Washington Post story described the experience of Clyde Graham, a long-unemployed coal worker who depends on the ACA for access to health care. He voted for Trump knowing it might cost him his health insurance out of his hope of capturing the great white unicorn – a new job in the mines. His stance is not unusual.

Why are economically struggling blue collar voters rejecting a party that offers to expand public safety net programs? The reality is that the bulk of needy white voters are not interested in the public safety net. They want to restore their access to an older safety net, one much more generous, dignified, and stable than the public system – the one most well-employed voters still enjoy.

When it seems like people are voting against their interests, I have probably failed to understand their interests. We cannot begin to understand Election 2016 until we acknowledge the power and reach of socialism for white people.

Americans with good jobs live in a socialist welfare state more generous, cushioned and expensive to the public than any in Europe. Like a European system, we pool our resources to share the burden of catastrophic expenses, but unlike European models, our approach doesn’t cover everyone.

Like most of my neighbors I have a good job in the private sector. Ask my neighbors about the cost of the welfare programs they enjoy and you will be greeted by baffled stares. All that we have is “earned” and we perceive no need for government support. Nevertheless, taxpayers fund our retirement saving, health insurance, primary, secondary, and advanced education, daycare, commuter costs, and even our mortgages at a staggering public cost. Socialism for white people is all-enveloping, benevolent, invisible, and insulated by the nasty, deceptive notion that we have earned our benefits by our own hand.

My family’s generous health insurance costs about $20,000 a year, of which we pay only $4,000 in premiums. The rest is subsidized by taxpayers. You read that right. Like virtually everyone else on my block who isn’t old enough for Medicare or employed by the government, my family is covered by private health insurance subsidized by taxpayers at a stupendous public cost. Well over 90% of white households earning over the white median income (about $75,000) carried health insurance even before the Affordable Care Act. White socialism is nice if you can get it.

Companies can deduct the cost of their employees’ health insurance while employees are not required to report that benefit as income. That results in roughly a $400 billion annual transfer of funds from state and federal treasuries to insurers to provide coverage for the Americans least in need of assistance. This is one of the defining features of white socialism, the most generous benefits go to those who are best suited to provide for themselves. Those benefits are not limited to health care.

When I buy a house for my family, or a vacation home, the interest I pay on the mortgage is deductible up to a million dollars of debt. That costs the treasury $70 billion a year, about what we spend to fund the food stamp program. My private retirement savings are also tax deductible, diverting another $75 billion from government revenues. Other tax preferences carve out special treatment for child care expenses, college savings, commuter costs (your suburban tax credit), local taxes, and other exemptions.

By funding government programs with tax credits and deductions rather than spending, we have created an enormous social safety net that grows ever more generous as household incomes rise. It is important to note, though, that you need not be wealthy to participate. All you need to gain access to socialism for white people is a good corporate or government job. That fact helps explain how this welfare system took shape sixty years ago, why it was originally (and still overwhelmingly) white, and why white Rust Belt voters showed far more enthusiasm for Donald Trump than for Bernie Sanders. White voters are not interested in democratic socialism. They want to restore their access to a more generous and dignified program of white socialism.

In the years after World War II, the western democracies that had not already done so adopted universal social safety net programs. These included health care, retirement and other benefits. President Truman introduced his plan for universal health coverage in 1945. It would have worked much like Social Security, imposing a tax to fund a universal insurance pool. His plan went nowhere.

Instead, nine years later Congress laid the foundations of the social welfare system we enjoy today. They rejected Truman’s idea of universal private coverage in favor of a program controlled by employers while publicly funded through tax breaks. This plan gave corporations new leverage in negotiating with unions, handing the companies a publicly-financed benefit they could distribute at their discretion.

No one stated their intention to create a social welfare program for white people, specifically white men, but they didn’t need to. By handing control to employers at a time when virtually every good paying job was reserved for white men the program silently accomplished that goal.

White socialism played a vital political role, as blue collar factory workers and executives all pooled their resources for mutual support and protection, binding them together culturally and politically. Higher income workers certainly benefited more, but almost all the benefits of this system from health care to pensions originally accrued to white families through their male breadwinners. Blue collar or white collar, their fates were largely united by their racial identity and employment status.

Until the decades after the Civil Rights Acts, very few women or minorities gained direct access to this system. Unsurprisingly, this was the era in which white attitudes about the social safety net and the Democratic Party began to pivot. Thanks to this silent racial legacy, socialism for white people retains its disproportionately white character, though that has weakened. Racial boundaries are now less explicit and more permeable, but still today white families are twice as likely as African-Americans to have access to private health insurance. Two thirds of white children are covered by private health insurance, while barely over one third of black children enjoy this benefit.

White socialism has had a stark impact on the rest of the social safety net, creating a two-tiered system. Visit a county hospital to witness an example. American socialism for “everyone else” is marked by crowded conditions, neglected facilities, professionalism compromised by political patronage, and long waits for care. Fall outside the comfortable bubble of white socialism, and one faces a world of frightening indifference.

When Democrats respond to job losses with an offer to expand the public safety net, blue collar voters cringe and rebel. They are not remotely interested in sharing the public social safety net experienced by minority groups and the poorest white families. Meanwhile well-employed and affluent voters, ensconced in their system of white socialism, leverage all the power at their disposal to block any dilution of their expensive public welfare benefits. Something has to break.

We may one day recognize that we are all “in it together” and find ways to build a more stable, sensible welfare system. That will not happen unless we acknowledge the painful and sometimes embarrassing legacy that brought us to this place. Absent that reckoning, unspoken realities will continue to warp our political calculations, frustrating our best hopes and stunting our potential."
socialism  us  race  health  healthcare  housing  2017  chrisladd  policy  politics  socialwelfare  welfare  europe  racism  civilrightsact  labor  work  jobs 
july 2017 by robertogreco
The city that solved homelessness
"European cities, in general, do much better than North America in providing housing. The Austrian capital, though, has had unusual success with housing issues that dog metro areas in the Pacific Northwest.

Vienna offers a vision of a city that doesn’t shove long-time residents to neighboring communities, accommodates a range of incomes, and actually has enough affordable housing that the homeless problem is solved.

The Austrian capital’s model has attracted attention in Asia, other parts of the U.S. and Vancouver, British Columbia, where political leaders have declared a homelessness crisis. Recently, a Museum of Vancouver exhibit, “The Vienna Model: Housing for the 21st Century City,” has provoked considerable attention.

In terms of people living on the streets, there’s just “no comparison, no comparison” at all between European cities in general and the U.S. or even Canada, says William Menking, the New York-based co-editor of a book, “The Vienna Model,” on which the exhibit is based. He’s in Berlin currently, where on a recent day in a working-class neighborhood he didn’t see a single homeless person.

Here are just a few of the many issues that Vienna has figured out: Mixing ethnic, age and income groups. Protecting open space. Aging in place. Transit-centered development. Building new train lines to the hinterlands before suburban housing developments are built.

These successes cut across the range of social, transportation and sustainability issues that Seattle knows it should tackle.

Some of Vienna’s housing uses the high-rise, easy-to-construct styles that generally flopped — often so spectacularly that whole buildings were demolished — in America’s public housing. Austria, like America, has a history of discrimination (Hitler spent considerable time there) and ethnic tensions; it approached its big housing projects with an eye toward creating a functioning society."

Even before World War II, Vienna was working at bringing people together in attractive housing projects, not warehousing the needy and the working class. Architects sought to create a “garden city” for workers with an early low-rise complex, George-Washington-Hof. In the 1960s, a large, 11-story complex of prefabricated elements plopped in place by cranes was redeemed by individual units that were laid out to allow ample natural light, and by buildings placed in such a way that they create a park-like setting. By the mid-’70s, a complex with 20-plus story buildings — called Wohnpark (Residential Park) Alt-Erlaa — was being built for 7,000 people with spacious gardens, rooftop pools, saunas, preschools and more — a concept the exhibit organizers call “luxury for all.”

More recent innovations tend to use somewhat lower-rise buildings juxtaposed with a variety of walkways, recreational facilities, residence balconies and green space — all accomplished while creating enough density to support transit.

One recent housing project used generally low-rise construction and flexible floor plans to ensure that residents could have options as they aged to shrink their space or share their units with others — and the rooftop gardens are wheelchair accessible.

Those rooftop gardens, common in Vienna’s housing for people of all incomes, are starting to pop up in a few new developments here — for those who can afford the steep-even-for-Seattle rents.

Vienna certainly has advantages: The federal government covers more than half of the roughly $700 million a year spent there on “social housing,” the subsidized units that house about 60 percent of the city’s population. These dwellings have some sort of subsidy for construction or operation, a concept that’s very different from the public housing practices in this country that give a small percentage of people a break but come nowhere near making rents broadly affordable.

The city also owns a lot of land where it can develop the housing complexes (at least one Viennese architect advises never selling public land). And it uses its advantages smartly: Menking says that the practice of awarding housing projects to nonprofits encourages collaborations with architects, and quality counts in making awards. The result: housing that incorporates — and creates — the best of urban life."
vienna  housing  government  policy  property  development  2017  seattle  joecopeland  values  society  density  urban  urbanism 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Baugruppen model ditches developers so that apartment buyers save
"Baugruppen. It might sound like a mouthful but this German word could be the answer to Australia’s housing affordability woes — or at least a new way to look at the problem.

If you can’t afford a freestanding house in Australia’s capital cities, the choices for an apartment alternative are generally expensive and limited. Many of the units available are targeted to investors and are often said to be of poor quality.

Literally translating to “building group”, baugruppen in effect cuts out developers from developments. The idea is that a group of interested purchasers come together and collectively fund their own multi-unit housing project. They are often helped or led through the process by architects, and they get a say in what their resulting homes look like. Generally, these homes have a focus on quality, sustainability and shared community facilities.

“At the moment, middle to modest income earners cannot buy a decent apartment because all the stock that’s produced is generally for investors,” says RMIT housing lecturer Andrea Sharam. “But there’s now a lot of interest in different models, particularly from younger people.”

Her research has shown that apartment buyers can save up to 30 per cent through such “deliberative development” (the opposite of speculative development).

The model that took off in Germany (predominantly in Berlin) has made its way to Australia, with a handful of baugruppen-esque projects popping up throughout the country.

Two recent examples have come out of Western Australia. One is a co-housing project that was launched by the council in Fremantle, the other is an innovative collaboration between the WA government’s land development agency, LandCorp, and the University of Western Australia. Located in White Gum Valley near Fremantle, that project is targeting a 15 per cent saving for buyers.

It’s basically like paying wholesale prices on homes, rather than the marked-up retail price.

“[A group] is fundamentally assisted to become their own developer, and in doing that they save themselves the developer’s margin and the marketing costs,” says project leader Geoffrey London, Professor of Architecture at UWA.

Mr London, who was also the former Victorian government architect, says the main aims of the project are to provide more affordable higher density options, provide more sustainable unit designs, establish a community, explore shared amenities and improve the diversity and quality of designs available.

There are a few things holding the model back from taking off completely in Australia, according to Dr Sharam. One of those is the significant financing barriers, especially the high level of equity required to obtain debt financing from the banks.

Dr Sharam says this will require a whole shift in thinking from conventional development lending, understanding that buyers in baugruppen projects are not at the same risk of settlement defaults.

“It’s a whole different ball game,” she says. “Even if one buyer falls out for some reason, say they go through a divorce and can’t go through with the purchase, then you have a waiting list; a group of people waiting in the wings to come in.”

That has been true of popular baugruppen-style developments in Melbourne, such as the Nightingale series, where a waiting list was more than 800 strong.

“One of the other really big things holding us back is that prospective purchasers are failing to understand it’s up to them to initiate it,” she said.

Gerard Coutts, a project management consultant with an interest in bringing baugruppen to Australia, is on a tour of Europe studying co-housing models. He says there’s much Australia can learn from them.

“I think there is a compelling movement [towards baugruppen models] as land supply dwindles and people are pushed outwards,” Mr Coutts says. “Older people, who wish to stay in areas familiar to them, this may be the type of solution to that assists.”"
housing  germany  2017  baugruppen  community  parking  cars  development  apartments  sustainability  melbourne  commons  transportation  australia 
june 2017 by robertogreco
What's Wrong with Apple's New Headquarters | WIRED
"But … one more one more thing. You can’t understand a building without looking at what’s around it—its site, as the architects say. From that angle, Apple’s new HQ is a retrograde, literally inward-looking building with contempt for the city where it lives and cities in general. People rightly credit Apple for defining the look and feel of the future; its computers and phones seem like science fiction. But by building a mega-headquarters straight out of the middle of the last century, Apple has exacerbated the already serious problems endemic to 21st-century suburbs like Cupertino—transportation, housing, and economics. Apple Park is an anachronism wrapped in glass, tucked into a neighborhood."



"Apple Park isn’t the first high-end, suburban corporate headquarters. In fact, that used to be the norm. Look back at the 1950s and 1960s and, for example, the Connecticut General Life Insurance HQ in Hartford or John Deere’s headquarters in Moline, Illinois. “They were stunningly beautiful, high modernist buildings by quality architects using cutting-edge technology to create buildings sheathed in glass with a seamless relationship between inside and outside, dependent on the automobile to move employees to the site,” says Louise Mozingo, a landscape architect at UC Berkeley and author of Pastoral Capitalism: A History of Suburban Corporate Landscapes. “There was a kind of splendid isolation that was seen as productive, capturing the employees for an entire day and in the process reinforcing an insular corporate culture.”

By moving out of downtown skyscrapers and building in the suburbs, corporations were reflecting 1950s ideas about cities—they were dirty, crowded, and unpleasantly diverse. The suburbs, though, were exclusive, aspirational, and architectural blank slates. (Also, buildings there are easier to secure and workers don’t go out for lunch where they might hear about other, better jobs.) It was corporatized white flight. (Mozingo, I should add, speaks to this retrograde notion in Levy’s WIRED story.)

Silicon Valley, though, never really played by these rules. IBM built a couple of research sites modeled on its East Coast redoubts, but in general, “Silicon Valley has thrived on using rather interchangeable buildings for their workplaces,” Mozingo says. You start in a garage, take over half a floor in a crummy office park, then take over the full floor, then the building, then get some venture capital and move to a better office park. “Suddenly you’re Google, and you have this empire of office buildings along 101."

And then when a bust comes or your new widget won’t widge, you let some leases lapse or sell some real estate. More than half of the lot where Apple sited its new home used to be Hewlett Packard. The Googleplex used to be Silicon Graphics. It’s the circuit of life.

Except when you have a statement building like the Spaceship, the circuit can’t complete. If Apple ever goes out of business, what would happen to the building? The same thing that happened to Union Carbide’s. That’s why nobody builds these things anymore. Successful buildings engage with their surroundings—and to be clear, Apple isn’t in some suburban arcadia. It’s in a real live city, across the street from houses and retail, near two freeway onramps.

Except the Ring is mostly hidden behind artificial berms, like Space Mountain at Disneyland. “They’re all these white elephants. Nobody knows what the hell to do with them. They’re iconic, high-end buildings, and who cares?” Mozingo says. “You have a $5 billion office building, incredibly idiosyncratic, impossible to purpose for somebody else. Nobody’s going to move into Steve Jobs’ old building.”"



"The problems in the Bay Area (and Los Angeles and many other cities) are a lot more complicated than an Apple building, of course. Cities all have to balance how they feel about adding jobs, which can be an economic benefit, and adding housing, which also requires adding expensive services like schools and transit. Things are especially tough in California, where a 1978 law called Proposition 13 radically limits the amount that the state can raise property taxes yearly. Not only did its passage gut basic services the state used to excel at, like education, but it also turned real estate into the primary way Californians accrued and preserved personal wealth. If you bought a cheap house in the 1970s in the Bay Area, today it’s a gold mine—and you are disincentivized from doing anything that would reduce its value, like, say, allowing an apartment building to be built anywhere within view.

Meanwhile California cities also have to figure out how to pay for their past employees’ pensions, an ever-increasing percentage of city budgets. Since they can’t tax old homes and can’t build new ones, commercial real estate and tech booms look pretty good. “It’s a lot to ask a corporate campus to fix those problems,” Arieff says.

But that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t try. Some companies are: The main building of the cloud storage company Box, for example, is across the street from the Redwood City CalTrain station, and the company lets people downtown park in its lot on weekends. “The architecture is neither here nor there, but it’s a billion times more effective than the Apple campus,” Arieff says. That’s a more contemporary approach than building behind hills, away from transit.

When those companies are transnational technology corporations, it’s even harder to make that case. “Tech tends to be remarkably detached from local conditions, primarily because they’re selling globally,” says Ed Glaeser, a Harvard economist who studies cities. “They’re not particularly tied to local suppliers or local customers.” So it’s hard to get them to help fix local problems. They have even less of an incentive to solve planning problems than California homeowners do. “Even if they see the problem and the solution, there’s not a way to sell that. This is why there are government services,” Arieff says. “You can’t solve a problem like CalTrain frequency or the jobs-to-housing ratio with a market-based solution.”

Cities are changing; a more contemporary approach to commercial architecture builds up instead of out, as the planning association’s report says. Apple’s ring sites 2.5 million square feet on 175 acres of rolling hills and trees meant to evoke the Stanford campus. The 60-story tall Salesforce Tower in San Francisco has 1.5 million square feet, takes up about an acre, has a direct connection to a major transit station—the new Transbay Terminal—and cost a fifth of the Apple ring. Stipulated, the door handles probably aren’t as nice, but the views are killer.

The Future

Cupertino is the kind of town that technology writers tend to describe as “once-sleepy” or even, and this should really set off your cliche alarm, “nondescript.” But Shrivastava had me meet her for coffee at Main Street Cupertino, a new development that—unlike the rotten strip malls along Stevens Creek Blvd—combines cute restaurants and shops with multi-story residential development and a few hundred square feet of grass that almost nearly sort of works as a town square.

Across the actual street from Main Street, the old Vallco Mall—one of those medieval fortress-like shopping centers with a Christmas-sized parking lot for a moat—has become now Cupertino’s most hotly debated site for new development. (The company that built Main Street owns it.) Like all the other once-sleepy, nondescript towns in Silicon Valley, Cupertino knows it has to change. Shrivastava knows that change takes time.

It takes even longer, though, if businesses are reluctant partners. In the early 20th century, when industrial capitalists were first starting to get really, really rich, they noticed that publicly financed infrastructure would help them get richer. If you own land that you want to develop into real estate, you want a train that gets there and trolleys that connect it to a downtown and water and power for the houses you’re going to build. Maybe you want libraries and schools to induce families to live there. So you team up with government. “In most parts of the US, you open a tap and drink the water and it won’t kill you. There was a moment when this was a goal of both government and capital,” Mozingo says. “Early air pollution and water pollution regulations were an agreement between capitalism and government.”

Again, in the 1930s and 1940s, burgeoning California Bay Area businesses realized they’d need a regional transit network. They worked for 30 years alongside communities and planners to build what became BART, still today a strange hybrid between regional connector and urban subway.

Tech companies are taking baby steps in this same direction. Google added housing to the package deal surrounding the construction of its new HQ in the North Bayshore area—nearly 10,000 apartments. (That HQ is a collection of fancy pavilion-like structures from famed architect Bjarke Ingels.) Facebook’s new headquarters (from famed architect Frank Gehry) is supposed to be more open to the community, maybe even with a farmers’ market. Amazon’s new headquarters in downtown Seattle, some of 10 million square feet of office space the company has there, comes with terrarium-like domes that look like a good version of Passengers.

So what could Apple have built? Something taller, with mixed-use development around it? Cupertino would never have allowed it. But putting form factor aside, the best, smartest designers and architects in the world could have tried something new. Instead it produced a building roughly the shape of a navel, and then gazed into it.

Steven Levy wrote that the headquarters was Steve Jobs’ last great project, an expression of the way he saw his domain. It may look like a circle, but it’s actually a pyramid—a monument… [more]
apple  urbanism  cities  architects  architecture  adamrogers  2017  applecampus  cupertino  suburbia  cars  civics  howbuildingslearn  stevejobs  design  housing  publictransit  civicresponsibility  corporations  proposition13  bart  allisonarieff  bayarea  1030s  1940s  1950s  facebook  google  amazon  seattle  siliconvalley  isolationism  caltrain  government  capitalism  publicgood  louisemozingo  unioncarbide  ibm  history  future  landscape  context  inequality 
june 2017 by robertogreco
California Über Alles | Ann Friedman
"It’s tempting to interpret the waning economic prospects and cultural relevance of rural America as an inevitable consequence of casual bigotry. If these people were just a bit more forward-looking—more accepting of immigrants and gay people, more interested in new technology—then maybe people like me would stay put. And maybe those states would still be attracting employers. Maybe there would be TV shows and movies set there. Maybe they’d even be drawing in transplants rather than hemorrhaging the best and brightest of each generation. Oppressive state laws can drive people away; in several states, for example, major businesses have scuttled investment plans in response to anti-LGBT legislation. The Associated Press found that North Carolina’s so-called bathroom bill, passed last year, will end up costing the state at least $3.76 billion over twelve years in canceled business.

Yet in the end, this vision of culture-wide economic payback for the politically backward interior is as much a fantasy as the notion that Trump can bring back manufacturing jobs. The real reason that jobs have disappeared from large swathes of the country has more to do with neoliberalism than with social issues. Broadly speaking, California is a winner in this system. Most other places in America are not.

The Golden State has long contained some of the richest zip codes in the country, but it’s increasingly becoming a state where only the wealthy can build a decent life for themselves. This is apparent in places like Los Angeles’ Boyle Heights, where my friend flies his rebel flag but rising housing prices are breaking up the Latino community that’s called the neighborhood home since the 1950s. Zoom out the lens, and you can see that it’s not just a local issue: since 2011, housing prices across the state have gone up 71 percent. That’s had real consequences. Between 2007 and 2014, more people left California than migrated here. Leading the exodus were people without college degrees—in other words, the same demographic that’s credited with delivering Trump a landslide victory in red states.

The hard truth about liberal secession fantasies is that California is not a place where progressive policies enable everyone to become successful. It’s a place to which people move to enjoy their success when they’ve beaten the odds elsewhere. As Kendrick Lamar reminded us, people come to California for “women, weed, and weather”—not decent wages, affordable education, and accessible health care.

Ruiz Evans’s case for secession rests on the claim that Californians’ “views on education, science, immigration, taxation and healthcare are different” from those prevailing in much of the rest of the country. This is certainly true when you look at polling on the issues. But when it comes to policies and outcomes, California’s unique values are less apparent. To take just the first example on Ruiz Evans’s list, California’s per-pupil spending on K-12 education has declined for years, falling well below the national average. In this realm, California is comparable to states like Florida and Texas—even though California also boasts some of the highest-performing high schools in the nation. This is not a sign of our more progressive views on education; it’s an indication that the state is deeply segregated along lines of race and class."



"The heartland isn’t monolithically conservative. My home state of Iowa split its Senate seats for decades, electing both a liberal member and a conservative one, and many of the midwestern states that delivered Trump the Electoral College have a similar history of mixed representation. Now that Trump is going to fail to deliver on his promises to improve the economic prospects of the people who voted for him in these states, the time is ripe for liberals to put forth an economic agenda that rests not on racial fearmongering but on guaranteed access to health care, fair wages, education, and affordable housing.

And as it turns out, these needs are every bit as acute in California as they are in Iowa. To move toward a true majoritarian liberal strategy means we must challenge more than a few ingrained narratives about American politics. It means rejecting the fallacy that California is a liberal utopia, a place where we coastal transplants can enjoy the moral high ground over our high school classmates who remained in our hometowns to raise their families. It also means dispensing with the opposite fallacy: that those who stayed behind have some sort of shopworn dignity that the rest of us lack.

And this is because, ultimately, division helps Trump advance his agenda. It keeps Republicans firmly in control of state legislatures and the House. So we must resist the urge to smugly turn our backs on the glum spectacle of the self-inflicted economic immolation of Trump country. We must keep it together. If you had a choice about where to build your life, you now have an obligation—not to move back to your beleaguered homeland, but to stay engaged with it. And if you hope to maintain any genuine sort of moral high ground in your adopted state, you have an obligation there, too: to work to make its policies align with your beliefs.

This is not, as Rich suggests, as simple as adopting Trump’s shoot-from-the-hip rhetorical style. Nor is it a question of luring venture capitalists to rural Ohio—where, in all likelihood, they would bring the same mounting inequality and diminished returns that have made Silicon Valley a fortress of paper wealth. It’s a matter of supporting candidates who share our values and have a track record of actually getting them enacted in policy. That’s a hard thing to prove when Democrats are not in power. But as I write these words, opinion polls show that Bernie Sanders is the most popular political leader in the country. Surely that suggests an opportunity to build on the best parts of his 2016 platform and to get behind other Democrats who are known for supporting such policies. There are several, like Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren, who enjoy a cross-demographic appeal. The time is also ripe to capitalize on the fiasco of Trumpcare and place single-payer health reform back on the table. Similar opportunities will surely present themselves on other issues, from education reform to infrastructure investment, as the president fails to deliver on promises to his base. The trick will be to continue to frame these issues as nationwide problems that we all have a stake in solving.

Those of us who have the economic freedom to migrate to pursue better jobs and a broad range of economic opportunities are the ones who bear the greatest burden for bridging the country’s internal geopolitical divides. Believe me, I understand the temptation to separate yourself: it’s true that I am different from the people I grew up with who chose to stay in Iowa. Part of that difference is, now, an economic and cultural advantage. So I have a dual responsibility: to see that California actually makes good on its professed values, and to ensure that those values incorporate the rest of America. Refusing to rationalize elite neglect is the real rebellion."
california  politics  policy  economics  work  labor  inequality  annfriedman  2017  education  healthcare  segregation  progressivism  class  race  classism  racism  homeless  homelessness  housing  donaldtrump  division  us  secession  siliconvalley  democrats  highereducation  highered  property  proposition13  elitism  migration  freedom  values  exclusion  inclusion  inclusivity  berniesanders  sherrodbrown  elizabethwarren  singlepayer  livingwage  affordability 
june 2017 by robertogreco
The Hourly Wage Required to Rent a 2-Bedroom Apartment, 2017 - CityLab
"America’s mismatch between wages and rental prices is more perverse than ever."



"[map: "How many hourly wages workers make enough to afford modest rents?"]

For millions of Americans, housing costs are perversely mismatched to hourly wages. In 2017, the average U.S. worker would need to bring in a whopping $21.21 per hour to reasonably afford a modest two-bedroom apartment. That’s nearly three times the federal minimum wage of $7.25, and roughly 30 percent more than the $16.38 hourly wage that the average U.S. renter brings home.

These stark numbers come from the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s latest Out of Reach report, which maps the minimum hourly wage required to afford a modest rental based on federal Fair Market Rent (FMR) estimates. The report defines “affordable” as housing and utilities that cost no more than 30 percent of a person’s annual income—also the basic standard used by the feds. NLIHC has run these reports since 2005, and this minimum “housing wage” is rising year over year.

[chart: "Remote Hawaii is an outlier for its extreme housing unaffordability, but some of the nation’s most populous states have huge shortfalls between average renter wages and “housing” wages."]

Even with a handful of states and cities celebrating recent “livable wage” victories (or defeats, if you ask a certain Georgia congressional candidate), there’s not a single state, county, or metro area in which a simple two-bedroom rental is affordable to a person working 40 hours per week, 52 weeks per year, at the local statutory minimum wage. And in states with particularly in-demand urban housing markets, the shortfall between rent and housing costs is particularly staggering.

For example, a FMR two-bedroom apartment in Hawaii, with the highest statewide housing costs in the nation, is $1,830. That would require earning $35.20 per hour, close to four times the state minimum wage of $9.25, and $19.56 per hour less than what the average renter there earns. In Maryland, a simple two-bedroom costs considerably less on average—$1,470 per month—but renters would still need to draw in $28.27 per hour to afford it.

[maps: "The twelves counties in Oregon, Arizona, and Washington where a one-bedroom apartment is affordable to minimum wage workers (shown in yellow) are largely rural, far from job centers. (NLIHC)"]

In only 12 counties in Washington, Arizona, and Oregon (all states with minimum wages above the federal standard) can that worker afford a modest one-bedroom unit. Almost all of these are in sparsely populated rural areas, far from job centers. More than 76 percent of renter households reside in a county or metro area where it takes more than 60 hours per week of full-time, minimum-wage work to reasonably afford even a one-bedroom unit. In California, the nation’s most populous state, it would take 92 hours. In Virginia, it would take 109.

More than 2 million U.S. workers are paid wages at or below the federal minimum, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That represents nearly 3 percent of all workers paid hourly. For these workers, the affordable housing pinch is most acute. The struggle is real for the rest, too. Americans earning median wages in many of the country’s fastest-growing occupations—customer service agents, nursing assistants, health aides, retail workers—aren’t making enough to manage even a one-bedroom without dumping more than 30 percent of their income.

[chart: "Of the seven fastest-growing jobs, only nurses make enough to reasonably afford rent."]

What gives? Rents are declining in some of the priciest American cities; it seems the luxury rental bubble has finally sprung a leak. But a persistent shortage of affordable units is still pinching renters in lower income brackets. Fewer families are buying homes, often due to a lack of access to mortgage credit or insufficient savings for a downpayment. Demand for rentals continues to surge, and households across the income spectrum are competing for the same scarce units. Low-wage workers have seen pay increases over the past two years, but those haven’t kept up with the cost of living through an affordable housing crisis with no end in sight."
labor  housing  rent  2017  minimumwage  affordability  california  hawaii  jobs  wages  income 
june 2017 by robertogreco
San Francisco 2015 Property Assessments
"Given that San Francisco was recently ranked the 9th least affordable housing market in the world, where can I afford to buy a house? Compared to my neighbours, am I paying more property tax? Are there patterns that dramatically affect a house's assessment value?

This interactive map helps you answer these questions. Get started with some stories, or skip them to zoom in and click on a property."
maps  mapping  sanfrancisco  housing  proposition13 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Where is Gentrification Happening in Your City? | Data-Smart City Solutions
"Gentrification—demographic and physical changes in neighborhoods that bring in wealthier residents, greater investment, and more development—has become a buzzword in urban planning. As traditionally low-income neighborhoods across the U.S. gentrify, social justice advocates have become increasingly concerned about displacement, the dislocation of low-income residents due to prohibitive prices. As a result, policymakers and urban planners have begun to consider strategies to combat the byproducts of gentrification in recently-developed or developing neighborhoods, such as providing low-cost amenities and rent controlled or low-income housing.

The first step in addressing gentrification is understanding where it has happened and where it is likely to happen in the future. A number of cities have found mapping to be a powerful tool for observing gentrification trends, allowing them to intervene before low-income residents are seriously affected. Cities have created maps using data mostly from public sources both to better understand historical trends in gentrification and displacement and predict the next areas where low-income residents are likely to lose their homes. While each model is unique, all display methodologies that are applicable across cities. For a factor by factor overview of models in seven U.S. cities, see

Los Angeles i-Team’s Indices of Neighborhood Change and Displacement Pressure

Urban Displacement Project Los Angeles Map of Neighborhood Change

Portland’s Susceptibility to Gentrification Model

Seattle Displacement Risk Analysis

Boston’s Displacement-Risk Map

Urban Displacement Project San Francisco Bay Area Displacement Risk Analysis

The Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development’s Displacement Alert Project Map
Limitations

Appendix: Comparison of Models"
gentrification  displacement  demographics  maps  mapping  losangeles  sanfrancisco  bayarea  seattle  portland  oregon  boston  housing  2017  chrisbousquet 
june 2017 by robertogreco
the three hot trends in Silicon Valley horseshit – Freddie deBoer – Medium
"For a long time I told the same basic joke about Silicon Valley, just updating as some new walled garden network replicated long-existing technology in a format better able to attract VC cash and, presumably, get them ad dollars.

2002, Friendster: At last, a way to connect with friends on the internet!
2003, Photobucket: At last, a way to post pictures on the internet!
2003, Myspace: At last, a way to connect with friends on the internet!
2004, Flickr: At last, a way to post pictures on the internet!
2004, Facebook: At last, a way to connect with friends on the internet!
2005, YouTube: At last, a way to post video on the internet!
2006, Twitter: At last, a way to post text on the internet!
2010, Instagram: At last, a way to post pictures on the internet!
2013, Vine: At last, a way to post video on the internet!
2013, YikYak: At last, a way to post text on the internet!

You get the idea. An industry that never stops lauding itself for its creativity and innovation has built its own success mythology by endlessly repackaging the same banal functions that have existed for about as long as the Web.

It seems, though, that SnapChat will be the last big new player in “social” for awhile, at least until the kids get their dander up for something new. What’s the new hotness in an industry that exemplifies 21st American capitalism, in that it’s a cannibalistic hustle where only the most shameless hucksters survive? As someone who rides the New York subway every day and is forced to look at its ads, let me take you on a journey.

[1] Give Away the Razors, Make Your Money on DRM-Infected Blades

Juicero deserved all of the attention it got and more — it was so pure, so impossibly telling about the pre-apocalyptic American wasteland. It was also just one of a whole constellation of companies that now operate under an ingenious model: take some banal product that has been sold forever at low margins, attach the disposable part to a proprietary system that pretends to improve it but really just locks pepole into a particular vendor, add a touch screen manufactured by Chinese tweens, call it “Smart,” and sell it to schlubby dads too indebted to buy a midlife crisis car and too unattractive to have an affair. As the Juicero saga shows us, you don’t even really have to honor the whole “make the initial purchase cheap” stage. Just ensure that you market your boondoggle to the kind of person who stood in line to buy an $800 “smartwatch” that poorly duplicates a tenth of the functions already present in the phone in their pocket. (You know, those dead inside.) Then get them “locked into your ecosystem,” which means “get their credit card number and automatically charge them every month for your version of a product that can be purchased at the supermarket for a third of the price.” Profit, baby, profit.

Are you the kind of person who is so worn down by the numbing drudgery of late capitalism that you can’t summon the energy to drag a 2 ounce toothbrush across your gums for 90 seconds a day? Well, the electric toothbrush has been a thing for a long time. And that means that it’s not good enough. After years of deadening your limbic system through psychotropic medication, video games, and increasingly-extreme internet pornography, you need something new. Enter Quip, the company disrupting the toothbrush. Quip wants you to know that its product is inexpensive, despite the fact that it will charge you $40/year for for its “refill plan” and I just bought 5 perfectly functional regular toothbrushes for $1 in the most expensive city in the country. Of course, you’re also buying the convenience of automation — who wants to run down stairs to the bodega for a toothbrush when you can hand over your banking info to a toothbrush company? Bonus points to Quip for emphasizing simplicity while hawking a product that employs an engineering team to innovate the concept of a brush.

[2] I’ve got one word for you, Benjamin, just one word: rents.

It’s one thing to take a product that is already cheap and just fine and replace it with a vastly more expensive version that locks people into exploitative proprietary systems for years in exchange for giving them a 15 second hit of dopamine derived from Going Digital. I mean, Quip and Juicero and whatever Silicon Valley dildo company is selling dongs with DRM-equipped replaceable heads are actually fundamentally selling you a product. It’s a horribly, uselessly expensive product that could only be embraced by chumps, but it’s a tangible thing. The real next level is just inserting yourself into someone else’s transaction and collecting a % while offering nothing. (When this is a job, we call it “consulting.”) Why charge a lot for the blades when you can charge a lot for literally nothing?

RentBerry is useful here because the word “rent” is literally in the name. Here’s the value proposition that RentBerry offers. For landlords who are already raking in record profits, RentBerry provides a chance at making even more, as potential tenants must set upon each other in a dystopian nightmare auction system that compels them to ask, how much am I willing to pay to avoid sleeping in the park, really? For tenants, RentBerry offers… well, the opportunity to pay more in a pre-existing housing crisis, the chance to make the process of finding an apartment an even more horrific exercise in stress and disappointment, a reason to hate faceless strangers with even more intensity, and more reason to view city life as a ceaseless Nietzschean struggle from which they will never escape. What RentBerry gets in return is, eventually, a % of your already hideously overpriced rent, for the duration of the lease. I bet you can’t wait to know a portion of your rent check is going not just to the landlord you hate but also to a company that did nothing beyond giving him the ability to take more of your money! Of course, if you live in New York, your “landlord” might very well be a hedge fund that also funded RentBerry! Sweet, right?

RentBerry will tell you that tenants might get a deal thanks to the auction system. Of course, it’s landlords who chose to use RentBerry, not tenants, and if landlords thought they were losing money on the deal they’d never use it, meaning the service’s very reason for being necessarily entails grabbing more and more tenant money. Details!

Why is everything so expensive? Because Silicon Valley and Wall Street are taking huge percentages out of transactions they once didn’t. That’s why. The Juiceros make inexpensive and functional products far more expensive and often less functional; the RentBerrys cut out the middleman by just becoming middlemen. Dare to dream.

[3] We Love Doers So Much We Want to Give Them a Hellish Existence of Endless Precarity

This is the type of company that has become inescapable in NYC subway advertising. Not coincidentally the time I spend contemplating stepping in front of the train to enjoy the sweet oblivion of death is also up dramatically. There’s legit dozens of these companies out there.

The basic idea here is that 40 years of stagnant wages, the decline of unions, the death of middle class blue collar jobs, the demise of pensions, and a general slide of the American working world into a PTSD-inducing horror show of limitless vulnerability has been too easy on workers. I’m sorry, Doers, or whatever the fuck. The true beauty of these ads is that they are all predicated on mythologizing the very workers who their service is intended to immisserate. Sorry about your medical debt; here’s a photo of a model who we paid in “exposure” over ad copy written by an intern who we paid in college credit that cost $3,000 a credit hour. Enjoy.

The purpose of these companies is to take whatever tiny sense of social responsibility businesses might still feel to give people stable jobs and destroy it, replacing whatever remains of the permanent, salaried, benefit-enjoying workforce with an army of desperate freelancers who will never go to bed feeling secure in their financial future for their entire lives. These companies are for people who think temp agencies are too coddling and well remunerative. The only service they sell is making it easier to kill minimally stable, well-compensated jobs. That’s it. They have no other function. They valorize Doers while killing workers. They siphon money from the desperate throngs back to the employers who will use them up and throw them aside like a discarded Juicero bag and, of course, to themselves and their shareholders. That’s it. That’s all they are. That’s all they do. They are the final logic of late capitalism, the engine of human creativity applied to the essential work of making life worse for regular people.

Our society is a hellish wasteland and I am dying inside.
freddiedeboer  siliconvalley  business  internet  society  technology  capitalism  middlemen  technosolutionism  precarity  finance  2017  juicero  subscriptions  drm  rent  rentseeking  latecapitalism  inequality  realestate  housing  socialresponsibility  stability  instability  economics 
may 2017 by robertogreco
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