Navigating cities can be a challenge for anybody with mobility issues due to a lack of infrastructure and poor communication. Decades of efforts to improve urban design have made a positive difference while more recently apps for mobiles have come into existence. Not all solutions are valued by everyone, but the upward trend of making our neighbourhoods more accessible is a thing we should all appreciate.
People have been crowdsourcing accessibility data far longer than apps have been around. Disability activists have been drawing maps by hand for decadesto prove the need for curb cuts, wheelchair ramps, signage, and other features that make public access possible, particularly for wheelchair users. In cities such as Berkeley, California, and Urbana and Champaign, Illinois, environmental audits, mapmaking, ad-hoc design practices, and “guerrilla urbanism” have enabled wheelchair and power-chair users to get around otherwise inaccessible cities by, for example, fashioning curb cuts from found materials.
Last year a community in Toronto launched a rent strike and won! This initiative to ensure affordable housing (and not being verbally abused by landowners) worked for the involved residents; and similar actions are working in the USA too. Last week in California a ballot initiative for rent control failed, but champions of housing argue that the ballot was merely one idea of many to help people stay in homes (after all, it’s hard for a grassroots movement to fend off a multibillion dollar industry). Over at The Slot they’re running a piece on the history of rent strikes and how they can be effective even if they don’t win in the ballot box.
Altogether, the strike lasted six months, ending in August with an agreement from the landlord to drop all pending eviction cases. In the months since, tenants have continued to organize, including around Prop 10. “We were not comfortable because the conditions of the building are really bad,” Camero says. “We don’t get that much money every year in our jobs, and all the money we make is for the rent. So I wondered what we could do to push back against a bad owner. To keep things in control of the tenants.”
The Burlington strike was one of several launched in Los Angeles since 2016. Sometimes, as in Burlington, they allow tenants to stave off immediate rent hikes or maintain a version of the status quo. But in 2017, after tenants in Boyle Heights (a rapidly gentrifying, historically Latinx neighborhood) went on strike in response to a proposed 80 percent rent increase, they not only avoided eviction but also successfully negotiated collective bargaining rights with their landlord. The building was not rent controlled and the tenants had no clear legal protections; the victory was built on organizing alone.
The Ontario government recently decided to ensure inequality continues to grow by not raising minimum wage, which is obviously a bad thing. The rationale by the anti-worker Conservative party was that paying people more will ruin the economy. They couldn’t be more wrong. Seattle went through the same debate years ago and the results from there show that their economy benefited from increased wages. The evidence is so good that people who argued against the wage increase have admitted they were wrong. Even the research that opponents used to argue against Seattle’s wage increase was based on bad data and mired in ideological goals.
Let’s hope that other jurisdictions base their decision on evidence instead of ideology.
Seattle, like some other thriving West Coast cities, a few years ago passed an ordinance raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour in a series of steps. The law was a partial response to rising income inequality and poverty in the city, which began its post-crisis economic boom well before the rest of the country.
The options are to either rethink your ideology or alternatively ignore the data. Most participants seem to have done the latter. Kudos to the University of Washington team for at least trying to incorporate the facts into their latest research.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford was elected earlier this year and already started implementing his plan to increase inequality in the province. Obviously, this is a bad a plan. One of the things Ford cancelled thus far was the basic income pilot program which was praised around the world, and before the study showed results Ford axed. As a response to this stupidity, CEOs have responded by demanding that the basic income pilot continue and that the concept of basic income needs support. The good thing here is that CEOs are openly supporting basic income despite the “pro-business” Ontario government stopping the basic income test.
Here’s part of the open letter from CEOs to Doug Ford:
As Canadian business leaders, we urge the Ontario government to continue the Ontario basic income pilot. We see a guaranteed basic income as a business-friendly approach to address the increasing financial precarity of our citizens and revitalize the economy.
It is urgent that we let this pilot run because we see basic income as part of a solution that could help Canadians stay competitive in the face of:
Accelerating technological job displacement due to advances in automation, software, and AI1
Globalization of jobs which has gone beyond manufacturing and textiles to entry and mid-level information work2
The ongoing transition of work to part time, contract, and gig-work3
Winner takes all markets where companies such as Amazon are absorbing greater shares of economic activity4
These global trends are causing structural changes to the economy that are depressing wages,5 reducing the number of middle class jobs available to Canadians, and affecting a decline in entrepreneurship.6
The graph above shows that the introduction of low income housing into a neighbourhood does not negatively impact the value of other homes. Real estate agents perpetuate a myth that social (or public) housing destroys local housing prices. Clearly this myth is based on no reality.
If you’re a homeowner that dislikes people who earn less than you please stop fighting efforts to house others. Hopefully the linked research provides more evidence for people working to bring affordable housing to cities around the world.
In the nation’s 20 least affordable markets, our analysis of 3,083 low-income housing projects from 1996 to 2006 found no significant effect on home values located near a low-income housing project, with a few exceptions
There is no statistically significant difference in price per square foot when comparing properties near a low-income housing project and those farther away when examining projects across all 20 metros. Likewise, at the metro level, the majority of markets yield no significant difference in prices between the inner and outer ring after a project is completed. However, a few housing markets revealed significant differences in price per square foot near low-income housing projects after they were placed into service.