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housing

Democracy

Urban planner shares a simple and proven way to cut rents in half

“Housing is ultimately for people, not profits.”

Why is one building so much cheaper?

Over the past few years, one of the most significant contributors to the increase in the cost of living in the U.S. has been skyrocketing rent and housing prices. A big reason for the rise is the lack of housing supply. Estimates show that Americans need to build around 6 million more housing units for supply to meet demand.

If we are going to build more housing units, About Here’s founder urban planner Uytae Lee, suggests that the U.S. and Canada focus on building more non-market co-op units.

He lays out his theory in a video entitled “The Non-Market Solution to the Housing Crisis.”

To illustrate his point, he highlights two apartment buildings side by side in the up-and-coming Olympic Village neighborhood in Vancouver, Canada. In one building, the average rent for a 2 bedroom is $4,500. However, in the building across the street, a 2-bedroom unit only costs $1900 a month.

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Saturday Night Live comedian Michael Che announced the devastating news that his grandmother had died of COVID-19 on April 6 in an Instagram post. He said he was "obviously very hurt and angry that she had to go through all that pain alone," but he was "also happy that she's not in pain anymore."

Everyone handles grief differently, and Che explained that he was going through "the whole gamut of complex feelings everybody else has losing someone very close and special."

A week and a half later, Che has announced that he's doing something to honor his grandma—paying rent for the month for all 160 units in the public housing complex his grandmother used to live in in New York.

In response to a comment, Che explained that his grandmother had lived in the New York City Housing Authority building more than three decades ago, before moving south. But, he wrote, "it's crazy to me that residents of public housing are still expected to pay their rent when so many New Yorkers can't even work. Obviously I can't offer much help by myself. But in the spirit and memory of my late grandmother, I'm paying one month's rent for all 160 apartments in the NYCHA building she lived in."

"I know that's just a drop in the bucket," he continued. "So I really hope the city has a better plan for debt forgiveness for all the people in public housing. AT THE VERY LEAST." Che then called on Mayor DeBlasio, Governor Cuomo, and Diddy, saying "Let's fix this! Page me!"

Channeling grief into giving is a beautiful way to honor someone who has passed away, especially in a time when so many are in dire need of assistance. No doubt having a month's rent covered will be a nice surprise and at least a slight ease of burden for families in that apartment building.

Well done, Michael Che. Let's hope your generosity spreads to others who have the means and the heart to share the wealth.

'SNL' Star Michael Che's Grandmother Dies From COVID-19www.youtube.com

Put on your active citizen hat because the Department of Housing and Urban Development is seeking public comments on a proposed rule.

First, a little background.

In October 2016, HUD published a final rule, "Equal Access in Accordance with an Individual's Gender Identity in Community Planning and Development Programs."

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Driving back to her apartment in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, last Monday afternoon, Rachel Gilliam weaved her way through smoke so thick she couldn't make out the mountains south of town.

Wildfires burn outside Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images.

"Everything had this brown and yellow haze to it, like there was a sepia filter over the world," Gilliam says.

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