Big Bank in Canada Wants Socialized Housing

ai image of a banker building a house

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.

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Spreading the Movement Against Sprawl

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)

2) Sign up for Public Comment Workshop from YIMBY Action – Feb 15, 2022 5pm Pacific: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/regis…

3) City Specific Zoning or Board Meeting Links: Los Angeles: https://planning.lacity.org/about/com… New York City: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/cau/communi… Chicago: https://www.thecha.org/about/board-me…

4) Don’t see your city? They’re often hyper-local, a little hard to find, and go by different names. Search your ‘zip/town/city’ and these search terms:

Berliners Vote to Evict MegaLandlords

Berlin

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.  

“Together we moved the city and shook up politics – that’s what we’re celebrating today,” Joanna Kusiak, a spokesperson for Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen said. “Thousands 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.”

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How To Make North American Homes Climate Friendly

the suburbs

Everyone is well aware that low density, sprawling, and energy inefficient is bad for the planet. Years of mindless development have left us with homes which are not well built for the current climate. It’s imperative that we get these homes to be climate friendly, here’s how. The Guardian has a nice article on the various ways people can convert their inefficient housing into a climate-friendly structure.

Deep reductions in emissions will involve revamping the major appliances in the home, such as the water heater, furnace and air conditioning unit. As these items become older, they become wasteful and they will need to be replaced by more efficient appliances that run off clean electricity.

Some of these replacements will be relatively innocuous, such as the installation of heat pumps, which will be in the basement or on the side of the house. Heat pumps work on principles similar to a refrigerator, shifting heat from outdoors indoors and vice versa. They can heat and cool your home and can also heat your water with an efficiency rate four times greater than a gas-powered version.

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Fleeing the City During This Pandemic? Do so Sustainably

the suburbs

Inequality has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and we ought to be conscious about this. Wealthy individuals can work from home and afford to move, while others need to be physically at work and can’t move. As a result the prices of houses outside of cities have risen has more people look for more space to accommodate working from home.

We also know that the suburbs are drivers of regressive political attitudes and horrible environmental damage. We ought to be conscious about this too. Since people want to keep working from home and move further from sustainable infrastructure, what should we do? Over at Fast Company they explore this 2020 conundrum.

As we face a climate turning point for which our post-COVID-19 behaviors are especially crucial, it’s important that higher-income individuals who move outward live in an eco-friendly way, especially when many essential and lower-wage workers must stay in cities and, often, climate hotspots. “COVID-19 has illustrated a sad truism: We may all be in the same boat, but we all do not have the same paddles,” Daniel Kammen, the other Berkeley study author, wrote in an email to Fast Company. Affluent individuals in New York and San Francisco have the financial means to insulate themselves from climate risks, such as wildfires and unsafe air, by working from home and relocating, he explained. “Multiple properties, often larger suburban and rural homes, and longer delivery chains all mean that individual emissions of the affluent rise when they take the extra precautions they can afford.”

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