"We were homeless; that’s why we were in the hostel in the first place. We didn’t have anywhere else to go. There were 210 other young women living there. Now it’s luxury flats."
A group of young, homeless mothers have taken over an empty council house in Newham, East London, in protest over the council's plans to rehome them to other parts of the country while selling off social housing and closing the specialist hostel where they were living. The Guardian reports: "For real politics, don't look to Parliament but to an empty London housing estate.
" [more inside]
In superheated London, where stratospheric land values beget accordingly bloated developments – authorities are allowing planning policies to be continually flouted, affordable housing quotas to be waived, height limits breached, the interests of residents endlessly trampled. Places are becoming ever meaner and more divided, as public assets are relentlessly sold off, entire council estates flattened to make room for silos of luxury safe-deposit boxes in the sky. We are replacing homes with investment units, to be sold overseas and never inhabited, substituting community for vacancy. The more we build, the more our cities are emptied, producing dead swathes of zombie town where the lights might never even be switched on.
's architecture and design critic Oliver Wainright
discusses housing development policy in London and the new city it is ushering in. [more inside]
The Mar Vista Tract
in West Los Angeles, California was designed by Gregory Ain in 1947, in collaboration with Joseph Johnson and Alfred Day. Ain was a significant "second generation" modernist architect who had worked with and was influenced by the first generation of California Modern masters - European immigrants Richard Neutra and Rudolph Schindler. Ain believed in bringing good design to the masses; he belonged to the school of thought that espoused architecture's potential to shape a more egalitarian world. He is credited as being the first architect to design a house that did not contemplate servants. A lot of Ain’s ideals were achieved in the "Modernique Homes" development, the name under which the Mar Vista Tract was marketed in 1948. The intent of the Mar Vista Tract was to create a housing development that provided cost efficient housing while advancing the cause of Modern architectural design. [more inside]
After years of debates
, notoriously contentious
, and the looming specter of a civil rights lawsuit
, a federal mediation agreement between the Town of Hamden and the City of New Haven, Connecticut resulted in the removal of a 10-foot chain-link fence that separated New Haven's West Rock public housing projects from Hamden's Woodin Street neighborhood for nearly half a century. NYT's Benjamin Mueller reports: In Connecticut, Breaking a Barrier Between a Suburb and Public Housing
. [more inside]
San Francisco must change.
"...the current state of permitting regulations for building and the glacial pace of infrastructure projects in San Francisco benefit very few people and risk turning it into a caricature of its former self for tourists and residents rich enough to live in a fantasy, not a living city. If there was ever a time when San Francisco needed to embrace a dynamic, expansive policy for building housing, offices and transportation, it is now." (Previously: 1
We’re all familiar with the stories of Russian oligarchs buying up mansions in London, but this is a much broader phenomenon. A torrent of capital from wealthy people in emerging markets—from China, above all, but also from Latin America, Russia, and the Middle East—has flowed into the real-estate markets of big cities in other countries, driving up prices and causing a luxury-construction boom. ... The globalization of real estate upends some of our basic assumptions about housing prices. We expect them to reflect local fundamentals—above all, how much people earn. In a truly global market, that may not be the case.
James Surowiecki writing in the New Yorker on the rise of a truly global market in real estate
The Tower of David skyscraper in Caracas was abandoned in 1994, and remained vacant until 2007 when squatters moved in. There is now a vibrant community living within its walls.
TechCrunch's Kim-Mai Cutler delivers a 12,000-word deep-dive on San Francisco's Housing Crisis.
Touching on: rent control, the Ellis Act, Dianne Feinstein, the mission, the Fillmore, Angelo Sangiacomo, Howard Jarvis, the failure of the Greater San Francisco movement, the perfidy if the Mountain View city council, and the Byzantine machinations behind the Twitter tax. If some of those names are unfamiliar to you, strap in: the story of San Francisco's property law may have found its Gibbon.
Photojournal of Spain's new squatters: families, young professionals, degree-holders, single mothers, the elderly. "I have grandchildren," she says. "When I die I would like to be able to say to myself that they will have jobs, homes and a happy life. The corralas are important. They set an example to people who are struggling. They show that we can help ourselves and each other. I don't know what the future will hold for any of us, but one way or another I believe that this will be a successful fight. I have to, otherwise I wouldn't be able to sleep at night." [more inside]
A single mom, Nicole just completed a degree in early childhood development at the local community college. She has been patching together part-time work around her studies and Joe’s schedule. Until 2009, Nicole and Joe lived in a poor neighborhood in Baltimore. Now they’re in Columbia, Md., half an hour away by car, but a world away in terms of opportunity.
At Joe’s former elementary school in Baltimore, 97 percent of the students are low income, and 97 percent are African-American. His middle school in Columbia is one-third low income, with white, Asian, Hispanic and multiracial students making up just over half the population.
In their old Baltimore neighborhood, Nicole says, she saw a man get shot in the leg in front of a corner bar as she held baby Joe in her arms.
Where Will We Live?
is a long essay by James Meek
on the housing crisis in the UK. [more inside]
U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff on "Why Have No High Level Executives Been Prosecuted In Connection With The Financial Crisis?"
Judge Rakoff, a federal trial judge who sits in the Southern District of New York, writes: "[M]y point is that the Department of Justice has never taken the position that all the top executives involved in the events leading up to the financial crisis were innocent, but rather has offered one or another excuse for not criminally prosecuting them – excuses that, on inspection, appear unconvincing."
A healthy, inexpensive, environmentally friendly solution for housing millions of retiring baby boomers is staring us in the face. We just know it by a dirty name. How The Trailer Park Could Save Us All.
The high salaries of the Silicon Valley are not enough to send your children to college, buy a house, and retire when looked at alongside living expenses. You need to play the equity game. [more inside]
What with the American mortgage scandals of a few years back and the resulting global financial death crisis, quite a few cities have had problems with long term abandonment of housing stock. Buffalo is trying to do something about it, by offering houses for sale for one shiny dollar
. [more inside]
Mortgage fraud, faux-democracy and escrache in Spain.
Those unfortunate enough to lose their homes are also burdened with a debt for life.
Anatomy of an ‘escrache
Spanish banks repossessed 30,000
family homes in 2012 and those who take part
in doorstep protests may face fines of up to 6,000 euros in Madrid.
Between 2002 and 2008 an average of 754,000 new homes were built in Spain every year. It is currently estimated that up to 6 million homes remain vacant.
The last King of Rwanda, Kigeli V Ndahindurwa, lives on public assistance in low-income housing, at a dead end between US Route 66 and State Route 655 in Oakton, Virginia.
'He ruled Rwanda for just nine months in the 1960's before fleeing a revolt and has spent the last half century in exile, powerless to stop the violence that ripped through his country. He is 76 years old now, his tottering seven-foot-two-inch frame stooped by age and the vagaries of fate.'
From April 2013 all working-age housing benefit claimants will experience a reduction in their benefit if their home has what is termed a 'spare bedroom
'. Some people
have a problem
with this, and it is believed it will plunge 95,000 Britons into poverty
Prime Minister David Cameron has defended the tax saying it is important to "get control of housing benefit
". Some who voted for the tax claim to have never heard of it
, even though there are some high
profile cases in the media
detailing how people will suffer.
The Bedroom Tax
might be targeting the poor, but there may be a Mansion Tax
in the planning stages to help balance the scales -- or not
. It's a modern Window Tax
Rebecca Solnit on how Silicon Valley corporations are transforming San Francisco: I weathered the dot-com boom of the late 1990s as an observer, but I sold my apartment to a Google engineer last year and ventured out into both the rental market (for the short term) and home buying market (for the long term) with confidence that my long standing in this city and respectable finances would open a path. That confidence got crushed fast. It turned out that the competition for any apartment in San Francisco was so intense that you had to respond to the listings – all on San Francisco-based Craigslist of course, the classifieds website that whittled away newspaper ad revenue nationally – within a few hours of their posting to receive a reply from the landlord or agency. The listings for both rentals and homes for sale often mentioned their proximity to the Google or Apple bus stops. [more inside]
Is San Francisco The Brooklyn To Silicon Valley's Unbuilt Manhattan?
Much has been said about how San Francisco should build up and become a new Manhattan. (Previously
.) Similarly, much has been said about the utterly boring suburban sprawl that is Silicon Valley. (At least in San Jose.
) The Awl
's Ken Layne points out that there's a lot of underdeveloped land in between that isn't exactly virgin wilderness- and suggests making more out of it: an entire metropolis, in fact. Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic Cities
mentions that Redwood City is the neighborhood of the future
. [more inside]
The findings for England and Wales from the 2011 British Census
have now been released. The BBC provides a handy guide
to changes by area while The Guardian has a neat infographic
and a set of Top 10 Charts
. [more inside]
In China, people are being evicted from their homes
at an alarming rate, according to a recent report
by Amnesty International. Eager to spur economic development, local Communist Party officials have used violence and intimidation to force people out of their homes and farmland, including employing private gangs to attack residents who won't comply with eviction orders. In Hebei Province, however, one father-and-son duo, both devotees of Bruce Lee and facing a gang of over 30 men outside their house, decided to fight back--and won
. [more inside]
Not content with displacing the poor
, menacing photographers
and blocking ambulances
the london olympics now wants ground-to-air missiles
, presumably to shoot down rogue skywriters who might misuse it's brand
Buckminster Fuller's prototype Dymaxion House
now resides in the Henry Ford Museum
. A checkup under the floorboards revealed extensive cracking in the aluminum support beams underneath. The repair process granted a sneak peek
into Fuller's remarkable design.
14 Year Old Buys House in Florida
Meet Willow Tufano, age 14: Lady Gaga fan, animal lover, landlord. [more inside]
Despite low mortgage rates (and rising rental demand
), home ownership levels among young people remain at their lowest levels in decades
--a trend that began even before the housing market crash. Although unemployment and other debts may be precluding many young people from buying a house now, it may also be part of a societal shift where renting is considered just as good as, or superior to, owning. NPR's On Point discussed
the question today, as well as linked to NYT
and US News
stories on the subject. Megan McArdle offers a dissenting view
posts incredulous commentary about outrageously overpriced real estate listings in Toronto. Look at the run-down bungalows -- in North York
! -- listed for a million dollars and despair. Canada's housing bubble
, on full display. Via Maclean's
A time-lapse video of a Mongolian family assembling a yurt
near the Russian border.
Realtors in Cars
is one of the strangest sites I've seen in some time
. I have no idea how these agencies got their realtors wedged into their cars, or why.
Over the past three weeks, Israel has experienced
what may perhaps be the largest, spontaneous / grass roots social protest of the secular middle class that it has witnessed in decades
. Thousands of demonstrators in cities and towns throughout the country have been protesting
cuts in government funding to health care and education, and massive, exorbitant rises in taxes and housing costs
-- and demanding change
. Tent cities
have sprung up
in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and in public gardens and parks throughout the country. And they may not be going anywhere: polls indicate Israeli support is "exceptionally high"
. [more inside]
Exquisitely Corrupt Charles Hugh Smith's predictions
on the housing bubble, from almost five years ago, are proving accurate.
The People vs. Goldman Sachs
. Matt Taibbi's latest magnum opus (previous coverage
) lays out the full case for federal prosecutions against the Vampire Squid according to Sen. Carl Levin's Senate Subcommittee on Investigations. [Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse 650 page pdf
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has launched a new interactive mapping tool
for Community Planning and Development agencies, interested agency partners, and the public. [more inside]
Squatters on the Skyline: "Facing a mounting housing shortage, squatters have transformed an abandoned skyscraper in downtown Caracas into a makeshift home for more than 2,500 people
"Completed in 1954, the 33 11-story buildings of the Pruitt-Igoe housing development was built as an attempt to address the housing crisis the poor faced in St Louis, Missouri. Only twenty years later, at 3pm on the 16th of March, 1972, the buildings were leveled, declared unfit for habitation because of unsafe and unsanitary conditions, coupled with rampant crime. The story of Pruitt-Igoe is a tragic urban fable, a complicated and loaded story of ambition, hubris and failure." (src)
"The Pruitt-Igoe Myth"
is a documentary directed by Chad Freidrichs that dives into the complex history of the famed housing project (YouTube or Vimeo trailer)
. RustWire has an interesting interview
with the documentary's creator. More information from Architizer
, Homo Ludens
, and Magical Urbanism
. Be sure to check out the collection of pictures from the area and from the documentary in the creators' Flickr stream
. [via Archinect and Mefi Projects] [more inside]
462 feet above Seattle, a family has transformed the top of the Smith Tower into their rather fantastic residence
. Slideshow here
. [more inside]
Earlier this week, Toxie, NPR's cutest toxic asset died
. One of the mortgages bundled into this asset was an investment property in Bradenton, Florida, which, like many Florida homes, has never been occupied or served as anything other than a financial instrument. Boston.com's Big Picture recently took a look from above
at the effects that this (and previous) housing bubbles have had on the development of Florida's cities and landscapes. How do you design a city that nobody plans to live in? (Previously
Before they foreclose on your house why don't you get back at the bastards by stripping the place
. There are consequences
. "Lawyers who represent people facing foreclosure advise them that whatever's nailed down generally stays with the house."