The Affordable Housing Conundrum

Before I fall completely into the trap of opposition politics, I have decided to take a break from never-ending criticism and to start suggesting solutions to the affordable housing conundrum. Do I have a plan? No, more a collection of ideas To start with, I think there are three key issues:

Home ownership is not a right 

Canadian politicians and talking heads of all political stripes have the same lament: “When I bought my first house it only cost $200,000. Now I have no idea how my children will ever be able to buy that same house”. Promoting the dream of a single-family home with a white picket fence is counter-productive. It just suggested the addition of more distant, car reliant suburbs that chew up farm land and forests. So no more home ownership savings programs, subsidized mortgages, or other incentives that disadvantage the almost 35%+ of Canadian households that are renters. The goal has to be decent housing that allows everyone to live with dignity. 

Rigorous Standards Strictly Enforced 

A right to decent, affordable housing does not mean the right to marble countertops, Toto toilets, or Miele appliances. It can mean old fashioned kitchens and bathrooms, but all in good repair. Plumbing that works well! Included – clean, well-lit common areas. It means good life and safety measures. 

It definitely means no rodents, no cockroaches or bed bugs, no mould! Standards without strict enforcement are useless. If land lords don’t fix the property, risk losing it to a social housing authority without compensation. 

It is always about the land

Do you really want tract housing here?

Or should I say buildable area. Land area is a finite resource. However, buildable square feet (or metres) is not.  We could expand the buildable vertical in North American  metropolitan areas if we: 

  • Banned: exclusive zoning for single-family houses 
  • Allowed: increased residential density in every neighbourhood
  • Developed: Government owned lands
  • Granted: Air rights over government infrastructure
  • Designated: All transport oriented sites as high density. 
  • Promoted: Mixed-use neighbourhoods with an emphasis on residential.
  • Aimed for: Cities where we can stroll to the shops for all of the everyday necessities

We would have denser, more efficient neighbourhoods with 24-hour footfall and safer communities. 

The urban-planning concept holds that all of the amenities of everyday life should be within an easy stroll of the average citizen’s home: a noble goal. But in the US in particular, this idea has been seized upon by the tinfoil-hat community, who fear that authorities intend to make this convenience compulsory and deprive them of their God-given right to have to drive for an hour to buy a pint of milk or another shotgun.

ANDREW MUELLER – THE MONOCLE MINUTE, TUESDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2023 ON OPPOSITION TO THE 15-MUNUTE CITY CONCEPT

Oh what a tangled web we weave ……

Conundrum equals complicated and I hate complicated. Complicated to me means something is unsolvable. So if I have a plan, it is to first move the housing agenda from complicated to complex. So if we can get agreement on three key issues maybe we start to pick away at the tangled strings of the affordable housing conundrum.

And the rest of the Sir Walter Scott quotation from 1808: when first we practice to deceive.

The Affordable Housing Conundrum

October 3, 2023

Before I fall completely into the trap of opposition politics, I have decided to take a break from never-ending criticism and to start suggesting solutions to the affordable housing conundrum. Do I have a plan? No, more a collection of ideas To start with, I think there are three key issues: Home ownership is not […]

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