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We Need a Housing Revolution Now


We Need a Housing Revolution Now

Richard Eskow

Here’s an experiment: If you’re not downtown as you read this, go there now and find some homeless people. They probably won’t be hard to find. Now, look at their faces.

If you can’t get downtown, look at their photographs online.


The old “move it along” schtick so often given to the homeless belies the fact that there is usually nowhere to go. Absent limited shelter space, that is. Historically there was a frontier composed of unsettled land. Such land has been carved up and is no longer free for the taking and settling. As such, the people (including the homed) are not free. Rather, everyone is bound into a system of landownership (which includes tenants). To say “move it along” is to say “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) pal. In my community there is an honest effort to address the homeless issue and help find jobs and affordable housing when possible. It will never be enough. Without a frontier, housing becomes a right. Period.


Homeless are given to the police to control including those with mental illness often sent to prison. It is a way of controlling the population for those with power and money. As the system collapses and technology permits we could begin living “off-the-grid” expanding into areas like our ancestors, but that is not an easy task. Calling for “progressives” to rise up sounds pretty but is not in the reality box.


I question what a “fair market rate” is. The fact is that there no such thing as a “fair market rate” because the market is manipulated and is neither free or fair.

This market manipulation is done by developers and respective Governments in conjunction with one another so as to “preserve” property values. It is done through the system called private property, through zoning bylaws and through incentives and subsidies used by Governments to attract businesses to their areas.

The real costs of the labor and the raw materail input in order to build a home is not that expensive. All the real expense some from SPECULATION and a system that escalates property values by design.

The market value of a piece of paper 4 by 6 inches is a fraction of a cent. If that piece of paper is a Honus Wagner baseball card it suddenly has a market value of several hundred thousands of dollars. While people do not need Honus Wagner baseball cards they do need homes and it beyond me why the system that deems a home has a “Fair market value” of 2 million dollars in one jurisdiction has a “fair market value” of 20000 in another.

That discrepancy in valuation is all by design.


As state and federal income and excise taxation continue to become more regressive, local gubmits make up for diminishing revenue by increasing property taxes and real estate fees, thereby adding to the cost of housing.

Up until 10 years ago the local assessor started taxing new construction when the building inspector turned in the final inspection paperwork, consistent with the beneficial use test. On a recent project the assessor started measuring and assessing at the point the building was framed up with no siding yet installed.


Ain’t capitalism wonderful? This is the end result of capitalism run amok. Dog eat dog, and some of those ‘dogs’ are now sidewalk sleeping neighbors.

Change the codes to allow people to build, buy and rent tiny and small footprint homes, force the banks to release their shadow foreclosed inventory that is artificially keeping prices up, end predatory interest, 30 year mortgages, and realize that the Pentagon ‘keeping us safe’ from nameless terrorists is a joke if you don’t have a roof over your head or food. Oh, and tell teenagers, especially teens of color who will suffer most from societal stereotypes, ‘wait until you’ve got a valid job skill before you have children, or you and those children will be doomed to lifelong poverty.’ Many of the issues surrounding inner city issues would be solved with this one rule. Some personal responsibility is in order here. Don’t complain to me if you had a baby or two at 16 that you can’t feed them or house them.


Agreed. A country that has plenty of money for F 35 fighter jets to fight a medieval band of thugs in the middle east but can’t house its own citizens is a failed system.

i don’t agree with the attack on young people of color having children when they are young. I had an uncle who didn’t graduate high school and raised a family of 5 being the only breadwinner when he had a good union job.

its still the capitalist system that is at fault here and the destruction of the middle class.


Another problem: people are working- then along comes the gentrified class, buying up properties and renting them out for even bigger dollars. The original community cannot afford the prices, and there goes the neighborhood- dehumanizing even more humans.


To be fully accurate I believe you must subtract one word from the title of this article.


Yep: We need a revolution across the board. Socialize healthcare, socialize education, socialize transportation, socialize the banks, socialize housing,…


To really “Make America Great Again”, we need to address this problem. If we could just spend half of the money that we are wasting by blowing up stuff and rebuilding it in the Middle East, only to blow it up and rebuild it again…and again…and again…we could really do something
about affordable housing for all.


Downtown Vancouver used to have an area where a lot of the poor lived, this the East side in what is the Gastown and Strathcona area.

It suddenly became fashionable to have a home in that area and low cost housing was pushed out under the Gentrification model. The buildings that remain that still are low cost are rat infested fire traps and are deliberately kept in a poor state of repair in the hopes the tenants will leave and the owner can justify a redevelopment.

Many of the peole that own these new homes actually have homes elsewhere as well. They use this new housing as a place to park investment dollars so they get a high return as property values escalate and or will rent them out or in fact use them on a temporary basis when they want to be in the downtown area for any length of time.

In other words HOUSING under the Capitalist system has little to do with providing people shelter.

This very much like the famines that occurred in Ireland, Bengal and Mali. It not that there was not enough food or land to grow the food for the loca population. It was all about how that food was used for somehing OTHER then feeding people and hat to get a better return on an investment.


Anyone know how to put in hotlinks here but prevent the huge photos?


I’m still trying to decide where to go to live in these United gouging States. This amounts to an all out rape of sensible housing costs. No wonder private prisons are booming, lock them up and put them to work . That beats foreign labor costs. The cost of all of life’s basic necessities are ridiculous and at this rate of increase expect the homeless numbers to get much worse. Truth, Justice and the American Way grew into Lies, Treason and the Warmongering Way


In my opinion people who use this should be fined or even jailed. Is there an online petition for this? Is this in Canada or the USA? It actually does not matter now as this is happening globally.


This is in Canada. The average price of a home now in Vancouver is 1 million plus . Another phenomona this has created is a plethora of get rich schemes where seminars are held on how to get rich off flipping Real Estate, (buy and reno and resell) this even as people sleep in the streets and under overpasses.

There have been some attempts to put low cost housing into neighborhoods. Try this and the locals are up in arms protesting claiming it will lead to drug abuse, criminals and lower property values. They claim compassion for those poor people but suggest they be put into another neighborhood.

I remember being interviewed on the street by a local TV station asking my opinion on a tent encampment of the homeless in the dowtown area. I was stating they had a right to their protests and asked where else were they supposed to go when there was simply not enough housing available. The reporter asked something like “Well the Grey Cup game is coming up soon and tourists from all over arriving. Would this not be an eyesore”?

This was less then 6 months after the Stanley Cup riots where the dowtwon core was wrecked by hooligans, stores plundered, cars tunrned over and burned by hooligans upset over Vancouver losing game 7.


Who is affording these million plus homes? Let me guess, scientists, doctors, lawyers, and hi techies and our favorite: Wall Street


There a large chunk owned by foreign buyers. They buy up the property and the homes remain empty given there such a return on the investment.

Others are purchased by two income familes both with professional careers. Many of these people bought a smaller place years ago or inherited and as real estate values skyrocketed simply sold to “buy up”. A number of the homes also have sub let basement suites as Mortgage helpers.

The price of 1 million dollars was for single family detatched homes. What is also happening is that these are being bought up and torn town and put up with for sale town houses and Condo’s. These are lower priced obviously but are more for the middle class (A small suite of 800 FT sq can easily sell for over 600k).

This of course decreases the supply of single familiy homes and drives those prices up.


Even with the two person pro career- personally I do not think anyone deserves that kind of money unless they are going to broker world peace or reverse global warming, cure all diseases, hunger, etc. Personally, I never understood why people buy up- they are only adding more preassure to their lives. As far as the investors especially the foreign ones- I think they should be charged such a large fine that they would think twice before they did it. It’s all corruption and stems also from overpopulation.


Yes, like housing- leave the revolution!