The company called Eco Domum, or Eco Home,
is based in Puebla, Mexico. Founder Carlos Daniel González collects,
sorts and melts down non-toxic plastics into a liquid, according to Unreasonable.
That sludge is then put into a hydraulic press, which forms the plastic
into hardened panels. It takes two tons of plastic to make one house.
At scale, González’s plastic houses could be just what Mexico needs.
The New York City luxury condominium building that became infamous for its separate ‘poor door’ for low-income residents has attracted more than 88,000 applications
for its 55 low-income units. The poor door caused blowback for
separating low-income residents from the millionaire condo owners and
barring them from facilities like the pool and gym. But the high level
of demand shows the incredible need for affordable housing.
LaToya Fowlkes is standing outside rent court in Baltimore. A judge has just ruled that Fowlkes has to pay her landlord $4,900 in rent and fees despite her complaints that the house has leaky water pipes, chipped paint, rodents and a huge hole in the living room wall.
But Fowlkes didn’t notify her landlord of the problems by certified mail — something the judge said she should have done to avoid eviction.
“It’s hard for tenants, because tenants don’t know the law. And then you have these landlords that just go and buy agents, and agents just sit there and study it,” she says. “So they just know a lot of stuff, they know how to get around, they know how to work the judge over and that’s not fair.”
Fowlkes is complaining about a system that is pretty common around the country. Most tenants who fail to pay rent and are taken to court have no legal representation while most landlords do. Studies have shown that tenants with lawyers are far more likely to avoid eviction.
No one knows for sure how many people are evicted in the U.S. each year. There are estimates that it’s close to 1 million, many of whom are low-income renters living from paycheck to paycheck at a time when affordable housing is becoming increasingly scarce.
Initial plans include 25 housing units on a given plot of land, with laundry, administrative services and other amenities present on-site. The 192 square-foot homes, which would cost $250 to $350 per month to rent, would allow individuals making just $5,000 to $15,000 a year to be able to afford them, according to Dave Carboneau of TechDwell.
Yes, Portland is friendly and liberal. But it has a race problem.
Cabouet: I’m from Boston. I’ve lived in New York and Miami and I can say unequivocally that Portland is the most racist place I’ve lived. It is subtle, but it is constant. It is people moving when you sit by them on the bus. It is not being called back when you see an apartment – showing up to see an apartment and you’re told, ‘Oh, there’s nothing available.’ It is white people touching your hair. It’s pervasive. It’s constant. Because it is so subtle a lot of people I know spend a lot of time thinking, ‘I feel angry. I feel hurt. Is it just me, though? Or is it everybody else?’ It takes a while to recognize that it’s everyone else.
Barber: I’ve been in Portland almost three years and one of the shocking things for me is how much Portland celebrates whiteness. I’m still trying to get used to that. Whiteness is celebrated here. It is the center of culture. It is what everything else is measured up against.
Hardesty: We didn’t declare a housing emergency until white middle class people started getting rent hikes. I find it ironic that all of a sudden we have a housing emergency, but 10,000 people of color were displaced from their neighborhoods and not a peep.
If you want to make a meaningful difference, it’s not enough to preach a sermon series on race, share relevant articles on Facebook and/or show up to the occasional protest.
Barber: You’ve got to invest in leaders of color. Being relevant socially, understanding some of what’s happening around the problem of prisons and mass incarcerations – we know that stuff, but the investment is missing.
Cabouet: It’s important that we recognize that investing in the black community is an intentional process. White supremacy was an intentional construct. It’s not a human nature. It was a capitalist strategy. This is going to require very intentional dismantling of the system.
Werner: Part of our history is that we get excited, as progressives, and maybe we’ll show up at a protest once or twice. But how do we become accountable to institutions and groups that are working on this? When you’re in relationship, you’re accountable to continuing to show up. Yes, I am still racist and I still benefit from racist systems and I will show up in public and get it wrong and I will still show up the next day.
Not being blatantly, aggressively racist doesn’t absolve white people of responsibility for systemic racism and racial bias.
the dwelling of the poor man is a hostile element,. – a dwelling which he cannot regard as his own hearth where he might at last exclaim: “Here I am at home” – but where instead he finds himself in someone else’s house, in the house of a stranger who always watches him and throws him out if he does not pay his rent.
Published On October 15, 2015 | By Socialist Alternative
Rent Control, Rent Control! Make Our Cities Affordable!
As housing prices skyrocket nationally and internationally, the idea of rent control is again on the rise. In addition to becoming a central debate in Seattle elections this year, new rent control laws were recently passed in Richmond, California, and in Berlin, Germany.
In 2008, a statewide California proposition to ban rent control was decisively defeated, with over 61% in favor of keeping rent regulation. However, as the demand for rent control becomes louder, so does the real estate industry’s fear-mongering campaign. In order to dispel the myths peddled by developers and the corporate media, we interviewed Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative Seattle City Councilmember, who has made rent control a central demand of her reelection campaign.
Why rent control?
Kshama Sawant: Right now, landlords have the right to raise rents by however much they like: 50%, 100%, or even 200%. People can only take stagnating wages and skyrocketing rents for so long before they fight back. Without the resources and power to control housing supply, communities inevitably are forced to demand regulation over their rising housing costs. Rent control is merely a way of outlawing price gouging and preventing landlords from profiting off the increase in property values driven by real estate speculation and lack of supply. It’s essential to address the existing power imbalance in which landlords and developers have all the control, just as a minimum wage is essential to defend workers from corporate executives who prefer to keep wages low.
Aren’t rent increases a function of supply & demand? Don’t we just need to build more units?
KS: Developer lobbyists often argue that the price of housing is simply a function of supply and demand. Left to their own devices, though, developers generally maximize their profits by building luxury apartments and condos. And rather than lowering rents, such development, instead, tends to drive up prices in a given neighborhood, as existing affordable housing is torn down and replaced with high-end units. So, contrary to what the proponents of the free market will tell you, we will never build our way to lower rents through private development, no matter how many tax breaks and sweetheart deals are cooked up for profit-hungry developers.
San Francisco has a rent stabilization ordinance dating back to 1979 but also has an expensive housing rental market. Why didn’t its rent stabilization laws stop skyrocketing rents?
KS: Unfortunately, as in other cities, San Francisco’s rent regulations have been slowly repealed under repeated attacks from real estate interests. In 1995, California passed the Costa-Hawkins Act that prohibited the expansion of rent stabilization to newer units. This created an economic incentive to tear down existing rent-controlled housing, and now San Francisco’s rent-regulated housing stock shrinks every year from demolition as new unregulated units are built in their place. The legislation also deregulated rents after the tenant moved out, so a landlord can raise the rent as high as they want, even though the housing is “rent controlled.” This policy, called “vacancy decontrol,” not only undermines long-term affordability but also gives landlords incentives to evict.
Won’t it stop development?
KS: The enemies of rent control often argue that it prevents investment in residential construction, reducing new housing supply. The facts do not support this argument when looking at the actual history of rent regulation. In fact, the two largest building booms in New York City history occurred in periods of strict rent control, first in the 1920s and again from 1947-1965. Rent regulation in no way inhibits construction, which is, instead, controlled by macroeconomic factors such as the boom-and-bust cycles under capitalism.
How can we win rent control?
KS: The fight over rent control in Richmond, California – passing 9-2 on the city council only to see developers block its implementation – reveals this struggle for what it really is: a battle to control the housing supply, between the community that needs high-quality affordable housing and big developers who exploit this basic need for profit. While we fight to stop price gouging with rent control, we can also loosen the grip of the market on housing supply by investing in a public option: the construction of high-quality public housing paid for by taxing the big developers. Just as with the $15 minimum wage, winning rent control and affordable housing will require building our independent strength and a movement to demand real action.
When people had trouble paying the rent in the early 1900s, they might hold a party in their homes, with music and dancing, and sell tickets at the door. Now, a nonprofit group is holding a modern-day version of the rent party to shine a light on the growing lack of affordable housing.
The new parties aren’t exactly like the old ones, which were mostly held in Harlem. There’s no dancing, food or tickets. But there is music, as was the case recently in Annapolis, Md., where about 20 people gathered in Tom Wall’s small apartment to help him, and others like him, pay the rent.
Wall, 67, used to be a lawyer in the housing and finance industry. He had to quit when he had a stroke in 2011. But then he and his wife couldn’t pay the mortgage on their house, and the lender moved to foreclose.
The couple moved to the apartment last summer. But Wall’s wife, Peggy, died three weeks later of cancer. He now lives on $2,300 a month from Social Security, but his $1,600-a-month rent eats up more than two-thirds. Wall is like a record number of American families — 11.4 million — that spend over half of their incomes on rent. It’s especially difficult for low-income families, who have little left over for food and other necessities.
Cristobal Palma; Elemental | Text credit: Elemental
“The challenge of this project was to accommodate 100 families living in a 30-year old slum, using a subsidy of USD $7,500 that in the best of the cases allowed for 36 square meters of built space in a 5,000-square-meter site, the cost of which was three times what social housing could normally afford. The aim was to keep the families’ social and economic networks, which they had created close to the center city, instead of evicting the families to the periphery.”
Looking for something to watch other than the usual Hollywood trope-o-rama this holiday season? Allow me to recommend the 2008 award winning documentary A Place To Live: The Story Of Triangle Square.
Produced by my business partner Noam Dromi, the film follows the journey of seven individuals as they attempt to secure a home in Triangle Square, the nation’s first affordable housing facility for LGBT seniors.
Check it out and spread the word so more people can see this beautiful and important project.
There is strong reaction today following controversial comments made by BC’s housing minister.
In case you missed it, Rich Coleman had a questionable response when asked about criticism suggesting the provincial government isn’t doing enough about affordable housing.
“I guess some people just have to get up and whine every day. You just have to look at the glass as half-full, not half-empty right? We’re getting there. There are over 2,000 units being built in the City [of Vancouver] in the last five or seven years,” he said yesterday.
What he said isn’t sitting well with everyone, from potential homeowners to the Official Opposition.
NDP Housing Critic David Eby feels Coleman’s comments are simply out of touch and show the Liberals don’t understand how difficult it is to buy a home here.
“Keep in mind, this is the same housing minister who just last year said that house prices in Vancouver were ‘actually pretty affordable.’ And that was just days after a report finding Vancouver to be the least affordable city in entire world,” says Eby.
“[Coleman’s] response that he believes that people who are concerned about affordability are whiners is entirely in character and actually totally explains why this government has refused to take action on the issue.”
Eby is promising to make this a sticking point as we gear up for the next provincial election less than a year from now.
“The disconnect in this government when I’m talking to the finance minister, the housing minister or the premier about housing issues and time and time again… They say there’s no issue and they’re not concerned about it. And if they are concerned they just want to study it for another year before taking any action. At its root, they simply believe people trying to get into the housing market in Metro Vancouver are whiners.”
Real estate developers won’t be able to continue ignoring the needs
of New York City’s working class tenants for much longer, if a new proposal
unveiled Friday by Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) is approved. The policy
goes further than other affordable housing rules in the city, setting
requirements developers must follow rather than creating options they
can choose to pursue.
Star Wars creator George Lucas is fighting back against his northern California neighbors in the best way possible. Three years after Lucas’ neighborhood voiced opposition to his “evil empire” vision to expand his Skywalker Ranch film studio, he was forced to look for an alternative. Instead of expanding the studio, Lucas is now streamlining and financing a $200 million project to provide 224 affordable homes on the largely empty 1,000+ acres of land in Marin County, according to CBS San Francisco.
Terrell Walker lives in a one-bedroom apartment in Southeast Washington, D.C., with her 9-year-old and 2-year-old daughters.
Walker stopped paying her rent last September because, she says, her apartment is in horrible condition — and she is fighting her landlord’s eviction threat in court.
But when tenants don’t pay, landlords say they have less money to fix things up.
It is a vicious cycle that can often land the parties in court, and it’s a scene that has become common around the country. The lack of affordable housing is forcing low-income renters to choose between apartments they can’t afford or those that aren’t in the best shape.