Sign of the Times

There are issues we see and at times issues we ignore. It is not because we want to be indifferent; it is because until it lands on our doorstep (quite literally) we remain ignorant of the actual size of the condition. The LA Times is giving us two parts in this. The second will come a little later as the page was not working correctly, yet the first part is given with ‘Seniors facing eviction fear homelessness and isolation as California’s housing crisis rolls on‘. It is not a local issue, it is a global issue and for the most, the inaction by governments imply that they remain in denial on just how big the issue is.

The premise “It also helped that even as the surrounding neighbourhood gentrified, rent control held his rent below $400. But three months ago, a real estate investor purchased the complex and soon told all tenants to leave. Suddenly, Canel faced the prospect of having to find a new home in a market where nearby studios rent for more than his monthly Social Security benefits — his sole means of support” is not a unique one. It is the direct result of ‘trying’ to attract large businesses. Just ask anyone renting in San Francisco on the Google pressures they face (similar from LinkedIn, Apple and a few others swimming in that pond).

And it seems that Los Angeles got a decent deal with: “Households with at least one person 62 or older made up 26% of no-fault evictions in Los Angeles city rent-controlled buildings between June 2014 and May 2019, according to the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department“, In places like Sydney Australia or London United Kingdom the mess is a lot worse and it is not getting better any day soon. The article (at https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2019-08-28/senior-housing-crisis-impact) gives us a lot more. The feeling you get with: “the average price for a vacant apartment in L.A. County is nearly 40% higher than it was in 2012, at $2,329 a month, according to Zillow” implies that the shift to work until the day you die is no longer a fabrication; it is the direct impact of the cost of living. To give the Australian example, I looked into an apartment. The pictures might not give the whole story, but the impact is visible. The area has a safety score of 2 out of 10, yet the rest of the information is lacking and missing, which is odd to say the least. We see so many stats option, yet they are there merely mimicking distraction. It seems that the NSW government does not like to hand out too much negative information. As I arrived the police was dealing with (another) dead person. It seemed to be drug related, but there is no clarity or reliability on that.

As the images imply it is a studio apartment with separate bathroom and separate kitchen (kitchen not added here). It is on the ground floor with merely one of three without protected bard on the windows, all the flats around that place have them, not that location. A serious kick would remove the door if they are unwilling to go via the window. I was standing in the two opposite corners implying that the living space is less than 4 meters long and almost 3 meters wide, so it is around 12 square meters; the inner doors were removed, so the kitchen and bathroom were all open. If the doors are added, usable space for the living room decreases by over 1 square meter twice over. More important, if you add a one person bed, a table and a chair, the available space is pretty much gone, even more important, it seems unlikely that a TV and a computer will fit; there will be no space for a sofa, entertaining guests is out of the question. Neither the bathroom nor the kitchen will fit a washing machine, so laundry will need to be done by hand. The kitchen was actually decent sized, yet there is a lack of storage there too and with one corner requiring the fridge (there was space for that) we will have to just eat in the living room, which is what most people do anyway. The door for the bathroom was missing and the frame implies it opens outwards, forcing the bed to be right in front of the window. The bathroom is luxurious in size compared to all other parts or this place, yet no space for a washing machine here either. The shelves on the right are the only shelf space I saw in this ‘apartment’, implying the need for a cupboard for clothes, but where to place it, there was no space left. Yet Housing NSW sees this as a very acceptable unit for one person. I think I have to disagree with that. Pricing was not an issue, the price was decently amazing for this dog shed, compared to what else I saw the price was right, but who is willing to live in a dog shed even if the price is right?

The place is away from most options and conveniences and that is not the big issue, not if the place was more secure and larger, the living unit needed to be 50%-100% larger and have space for a washing machine (in either kitchen or bathroom). I believe that only prisons are smaller and whoever comes out of prison might find it acceptable, which is until that person starts yearning for a washing machine to keep clothes clean when that happens all bets are off.

I know that there are perfectly decent places to get, but they are rare, really rare. Only last Monday did we see: ‘Homelessness in NSW reaches ‘crisis point’‘, the problem is that political Sydney has been catering (read: sucking up) to big corporations for too long, there has not been one clear action, not one clear activity to actually achieve anything regarding social housing or affordable housing in general. In this article (at https://probonoaustralia.com.au/news/2019/08/homelessness-in-nsw-reaches-crisis-point/)

We see: “To break the cycle of homelessness we need the [New South Wales] and federal governments to fund more social and affordable housing in the inner city“, as well as “A recent City of Sydney street count found while the number of people sleeping rough fell from 278 in August last year to 254, the use of temporary accommodation rose by 16.8 per cent“. Both are debatable on a few levels. In the first, the housing issue is far beyond the inner city, even when we take out a few high end suburbs (like Kiribilly and Bondi), the bulk of all suburbs have a large lack of affordable housing. the lack has been clearly seen in the inner city, inner west, eastern suburbs, northern suburbs, northern shores, Chatswood, St. Leonards, Woolloomooloo, Kings Cross, Edgecliff, and this list goes on for close to a dozen suburbs more, all lacking, all failing. The second larger failing is that it only seems that rough sleeping fell, the homeless support systems are now all in a stage where they are not allowed to offer sleeping places for more than a year, all that whilst everyone knows that the waiting list on NSW housing is 6 or more years. Even as we accept “The NSW government has invested around $1 billion in funding for homelessness services over the past four years” that number becomes highly debatable when we nit-pick through that list and see where all the money had gone to. In this when we look at the statement by NSW Communities Minister Gareth Ward “Since 2017, our assertive outreach teams have helped house more than 450 people previously sleeping rough on inner city streets” we need to add a little dimensionality, 450 people in two years comes down to less than 19 a month. Now, I am happy for those 19 people, yet if the house I showed is all they get, they are still in a bad place, missing doors, essential options and some level of security. This is not on Gareth Ward. This is on a much larger Australian parliament failing its residents and citizens. Yet that government has been catering to players like CBRE Residential Projects, with a dozen projects, according to their search engine options below $700K (not that affordable, yet there are no prices given, not anywhere. So when you look https://www.cbresi.com.au/, wonder what you can afford. Because as I stated, these places usually are not given a price and only after you give all YOUR details will someone optionally get in touch with you. so if buying a place is what you need consider that at a max of $500K, most real estate places will give ‘We couldn’t find anything that quite matches your search‘, when you seek rental in Sydney and you are able to afford $300 per week (which is way above senior budget, the most likely response from the system is ‘*****THIS IS FOR A CARSPACE ONLY******‘, so a dog shed is all you can hope for (at best).

Whilst rentals in a place only slightly bigger than the one I visited started at $345 a week, implying that the old given “Economists say you shouldn’t spend more than 30% of your earnings on rental costs” is a bloody joke, many are in a stage where they spend 50% or more on rental, some even is high as 75%-85%, that number shows just how delusional some housing economists are, the numbers they rely on have been outdated for well over a decade, even in my good days is was already on 40% of income for rental, and when it comes to food 10% is a massive difference on any budget.

Housing issues is a sign of the times, it is not a mystery, it is a given, what is also a given is that many governments needed to do a lot more well over a decade ago and it was all pushed forward in some empty scheme to let realtors pay for it all, something that was never ever going to happen. It is a large population. In the Netherlands the housing shortage is dangerously close to 1% of its population, In Sweden is was given that 80% of all municipalities faced a housing shortage (not just the big cities), what is interesting is that I saw the dream house in Sweden (in a smaller town) that was the size of a villa (with 4 bedrooms) and went at the price of €40,000, which is truly unbelievable. So sad I missed out, it actually was on a hill and looked out over Långsjön Lake, the fact that I missed out on that palace still makes me sad 15 years later.

The fact is not merely the entire housing issue, when you combine housing issues and age discrimination, the entire matter becomes a lot worse and more pressing, but not to worry, at least 5 governments remain in denial of age discrimination as well, so it is all a nice and compact package ruled by short sighted people (seemingly the trademark of many politicians).

 

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