Seemingly everywhere there’s a crunch on housing and there’s a surplus of roads, so let’s change some car space to sleeping space. If we take away even just one lane of parking for cars we can create towers of housing for people. Cities can benefit from increased revenue since housing makes more money for cities than stationary cars. What’s more, when a developer wants to build and take away a lane then part of the development fees can be specified to increase transit and biking infrastructure.
He argues that highway conversions make more sense than using lanes on regular city streets for housing, at least in most cases. “Most street right-of-ways are can only be reduced by a lane or two, which can generate enough extra space for a bike lane or expanded sidewalk but not enough for the addition of housing,” he says. “Moreover, trading street width for a housing tract typically requires a public/private land swap. These are possible, but add enough red tape to only make sense when a significant amount of housing can be added.”
In Boston, Speck’s firm is working on a plan, now in its second design phase, to use excess road space in Kenmore Square to add new housing and public space. “The plan results in considerably more housing than originally conceived, plus a beautiful plaza,” Speck says. The plan would also more than triple the space available for pedestrians.
Neighbourhoods in Canada are trying to change the world by focussing on their own street. Across the country there are streets of houses proving that a transition from using fossil fuels to heat and power a home is possible in a country that loves to subsidize the oil and gas industry. And yes, going green saves money too.
The Pocket Change Project provides not only an example of how to convert your neighbourhood but information on how to do it. It may seem like a daunting task to go for fully electric in a place that guzzles gas for homes, but it’s doable and with the guides from Pocket Change it’s easy.
If you’re fortunate enough to own a home then you should you do your part and cut out gas.
When it comes to reducing household emissions, Dowsett is clear-eyed about where he thinks the responsibility lies.
“We who are the affluent ones are the ones who create an outsized carbon problem; people who are less affluent do not,” he said. “I think it’s very disingenuous of us to try and impose austerity on people who are not the problem. We are the problem. We need to change,” he said, before adding with a laugh, “rant over.”
Other Pocket residents echo this sentiment. “I believe that people who are privileged enough have a responsibility to do this,” said Lori Zucchiatti O’Neill. “A lot of people can’t afford to do this, but we can afford to do this. So it’s like, full steam ahead.”
The housing crisis in Canada has been decades of policy failures in the making arguably starting in the 90s when the federal government stopped building housing for people. Now, the housing crisis has grown to the point where one of Canada’s largest banks is calling for socialized housing to be built again. This means building house for people who are so priced out of the market that renting is hard for them due to the downward pressures from wealthy home buyers.The bank also calls for other measures to be taken, as with most things, there isn’t one simple solution.
There is a case to critically consider next-best approach(es) to non-market housing across the country. There are many learnings to be leveraged from crowding private capital into affordable housing and there is still much more to be done in that ‘middle market’. This is essential but insufficient. The largely scathing OAG report on basic access to housing suggests we have neither adequate governance frameworks nor the tools at present to address the magnitude of the challenges at the acute end of the housing continuum.
Canada needs a more ambitious, urgent and well-resourced strategy to expand its social housing infrastructure. Aims to double the stock of social housing across the country could be a start. This would bring Canada just in line with OECD (and G7) averages, but well- below some European and Nordic markets. There is no particular magic behind this number: bringing the stock to 1.3 mn dwellings would not fully close gaps. But it signals far more ambition than the 150 k incremental units targeted under the National Housing Strategy with the bulk of its efforts focused on keeping the current count whole.
Where you live matters. Who chooses in what type of building you can choose to live in matters too. Undoubtedly most people want to live in walkable communities, yet in many areas it’s actual illegal to build places that don’t rely on cars. Low density sprawl is bad for everything yet municipalities in North America continue to only permit single family dwellings. It’s time to let people choose in what type of building they want to live in instead of forcing only low density in new developments.
ZONING STUFF YOU CAN DO
1) Join the Climate Town Discord. Since there’s not a great/accessible database of everyone’s local zoning meetings (as far as we could find), we think it would be pretty slick to harness our community’s collective power to make it easier to get this information. We just created a channel called “#zoning” (https://discord.gg/cqRpTpeAH2), where you can drop by and tell us how your local zoning meeting smelled, or share a link that we missed to help other Climate Townies affect change in their community. (And in case you’re like me from a month ago and have no idea how to use Discord, here’s a helpful beginner’s guide – https://support.discord.com/hc/en-us/… to-Discord)
Like many cities around the world Berlin’s housing crisis is only getting worse. Instead of sitting idly by and watching their city become a place only for the landed gentry, Berliners decided to organize and do something. A referendum took place over this past weekend (as part of the federal election) asked Berliners if the city should take over the housing units owned by mega landlords who own more than 3,000 properties.
The city would acquire any unity about that number and make it social housing. 56% of voters made it clear: they want more public housing by taking it away from corporations only interested in profits. Housing is a human right.
Whatever happens next in Berlin it’s clear people are sick that something as necessary as housing is treated like any other commodity.
The referendum was able to take place after Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen took advantage of a mechanism in German law, which allows certain topics to go to a referendum if a group can collect 175,000 signatures from city residents. In June, campaigners announced they had collected 343,000 signatures on the housing referendum, which received a boost when a city-wide rent cap was overturned in April.
â€œTogether we moved the city and shook up politics â€“ that’s what we’re celebrating today,â€ Joanna Kusiak, a spokesperson for Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen said. â€œThousands have become active with us. We are anchored with our structures in each district. We faced powerful opponents: inside and won. We’re not going away anytime soon.â€