Taghousing

In Japan capsule hotels become home

japanese capsule hotel

For Atsushi Nakanishi, jobless since Christmas, home is a cubicle barely bigger than a coffin — one of dozens of berths stacked two units high in one of central Tokyo’s decrepit “capsule” hotels. [...]

Now, Hotel Shinjuku 510’s capsules, no larger than 6 1/2 feet long by 5 feet wide, and not tall enough to stand up in, have become an affordable option for some people with nowhere else to go as Japan endures its worst recession since World War II.

Once-booming exporters laid off workers en masse in 2009 as the global economic crisis pushed down demand. Many of the newly unemployed, forced from their company-sponsored housing or unable to make rent, have become homeless.

New York Times: For Some in Japan, Home Is a Tiny Plastic Bunk

(via Mister X)

The moral dimensions of ditching a mortgage

The main point, he says, is that too often people’s emotions get in the way of clear financial thinking about mortgages, turning them into what he calls “woodheads” — “individuals who choose not to act in their own self-interest.” Most owners are too worried about feelings of shame and embarrassment following a foreclosure, and ignore the powerful financial reasons for going through with it, he said.

Buttressing these emotions is a system that White labels “the social control of the housing crisis” — pressures and messages continually sent to consumers by the “social control agents,” namely banks, government and the media. The mantra these agents — all the way up to President Obama — pound into owners’ heads, White says, is that “voluntarily defaulting on a mortgage is immoral.”

Yet there is an inherent imbalance in the borrower-lender relationship that makes this morality message unfair to consumers: Banks set the rules during the housing boom, handing out home loans with no down payments, no income checks and inflated appraisals. Now that property values have dropped 20 to 50 percent in many areas, banks have been slow to modify troubled mortgages and reluctant to reduce principal debts.

Only when homeowners cut through the emotional fog and default strategically in large numbers, White argues, will this inequitable situation be seriously addressed.

Washington Post: The moral dimensions of ditching a mortgage

(Thanks Trevor)

Michael Hudson wrote back in February:

The officials drawn from Wall Street who now control of the Treasury and Federal Reserve repeat the right-wing Big Lie: Poor “subprime families” have brought the system down, exploiting the rich by trying to ape their betters and live beyond their means. Taking out subprime loans and not revealing their actual ability to pay, the NINJA poor (no income, no job, no audit) signed up to obtain “liars’ loans” as no-documentation Alt-A loans are called in the financial junk-paper trade.

I learned the reality a few years ago in London, talking to a commercial banker. “We’ve had an intellectual breakthrough,” he said. “It’s changed our credit philosophy.”

“What is it?” I asked, imagining that he was about to come out with yet a new magical mathematics formula?

“The poor are honest,” he said, accompanying his words with his jaw dropping open as if to say, “Who would have guessed?”

The meaning was clear enough. The poor pay their debts as a matter of honor, even at great personal sacrifice and what today’s neoliberal Chicago School language would call uneconomic behavior. Unlike Donald Trump, they are less likely to walk away from their homes when market prices sink below the mortgage level. This sociological gullibility does not make economic sense, but reflects a group morality that has made them rich pickings for predatory lenders such as Countrywide, Wachovia and Citibank. So it’s not the “lying poor.” It’s the banksters’ fault after all!

Luxury Condo Being Turned into Homeless Shelter

Instead of boarding up an unoccupied luxury condo in Crown Heights and letting it fall into disrepair, the owner has done the unthinkable: arranged to let homeless people live there. [...]

The city is paying about $2,700 a month for each apartment, which also covers social services like job counseling. Shriki says, “At least we still own the building and we are paying our mortgage, so that’s good. The outcome is not as bad as some people I know who had to surrender the whole building to the bank.”

Gothamist: Luxury Condo Being Turned into Homeless Shelter

(via Disinfo)

Malaysian utilities cutting off electricity to squatters

Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) has stepped up efforts to curb Non-Revenue Electricity (NRE) by dismantling illegal connections from squatter colonies here.
Its enforcement unit saw hundreds of metres of illegal wires being seized during a three-day operation from Tuesday.

Daily Express: Power thefts in 12 KK squatter areas

Via Robert Neuwirth, who writes:

If the point is to get people to pay, to turn non-revenue into revenue, then why not work with the squatters to create a solution. It’s such a simple thing, really. Just a slight change in mindset. The South African group Abahlali baseMjondolo has demonstrated in a series of reports that ripping out electrical lines in shantytowns causes deaths, as people return to using candles and lighting fires. There’s a cost in lost revenue and a cost in human lives.

Buckminster Fuller and the Homeless of New York

If Buckminster Fuller is known for any effort, it is the effort to provide shelter. But who did Fuller actually provide shelter for? The Lightful House and 4D House existed only on paper. The Dymaxion House existed only as a small scale model. The Dymaxion (Wichita) House existed as two full-scale models (one internal, one external, neither able to be connected to the other). The Dymaxion Deployment Unit did house US armed forces personnel – but the DDU was the invention of Victor C. Norquist, not Buckminster Fuller. The geodesic dome was invented by Walter Bauersfeld who made a number of dome shelters. Fuller never built a dome for sale as a shelter. Of the dozens of books by and about Fuller, of the thousands of articles on his life and work, most of them fail to give a single instance of when Fuller actually provided shelter to anyone. The Buckminster Fuller Bibliography by Trevor Blake is the first book to document that Fuller provided shelter for others with his own direct effort.

The New York Times for 10 September 1932 includes an uncredited article titled “Single Jobless Men to Get Lodging House / Social Worker and Engineer Obtain Use of Tenement for Those Ineligible for City Aid.” The buiding in question was a then-deserted seven-story building located at 145 Ridge Street in New York City, New York. The social worker was Ben Howe and the engineer was Buckminster Fuller. Fuller is described as “editor of the magazine Shelter and head of Structural Study Associates, an engineering firm.” According to the article, the men who were renovating the building were hoping to live in it afterward. They were otherwise ineligible for benefits because they were not the head of a family. The building was to house two hundred and fifty men at a time and serve several thousand during Winter. Lieutenant R. E. Johnson was also involved in this project. He is described as a “former army construction engineer and commander of the United States Ex-Service Men’s Association.” At the time of the article, the shelter was under construction. The building described in this article no longer exists.

Synchronofile: Buckminster Fuller and the Homeless of New York

Homelessness advocacy graffiti in Toronto

homeless advocacy graffiti in toronto

The project is called the Unaddressed and it focuses on the under-housed, giving voice to their personal opinions. Over the course of 3 months I met with 18 individuals who are currently or have recently been homeless. Through meeting, talking about their lives and discussing issues that were important to them, they developed their announcements and created a cardboard sign to reveal them. By photographing homeless and formerly homeless individuals holding cardboard signs that announce their concerns, the hope is challenge preconceived notions of homelessness and make the passers-by realize how serious the situation is and that everybody deserves the same basic necessities of life and to be treated the same way. Basically do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Wooster Collective: Catchin’ Up With Dan Bergeron

Tent cities continue to boom, ranks of desperate grow

Tent cities and shelters from California to Massachusetts report growing demand from the newly homeless. The National Alliance to End Homelessness predicted in January that the recession would force 1.5 million more people into homelessness over the next two years. Already, “tens of thousands” have lost their homes, Alliance President Nan Roman says.

The $1.5 billion in new federal stimulus funds for homelessness prevention will help people pay rent, utility bills, moving costs or security deposits, she says, but it won’t be enough.

“We’re hearing from shelter providers that the shelters are overflowing, filled to capacity,” says Ellen Bassuk, president of the National Center on Family Homelessness. “The number of families on the streets has dramatically increased.”

USA Today: Economic casualties pile into tent cities

(Via Breaking Time)

The Lost Inventions of Buckminster Fuller (Part 3 of 3)

The most important information on why the Dymaxion House never went into production can be found on pages 85-114 of Pawley’s Buckminster Fuller. Namely, this was due to Fuller’s “fanatical determination to retain complete personal control of the project and refine the house still further before putting it into production.” Although there were estimates of 250,000 Dymaxion Houses to be produced each year and 37,000 unsolicited orders before production began, the only Dymaxion Houses ever made were incomplete or miniature models. Of all the lost inventions of Buckminster Fuller, this is the one that could have done the most good in the world. The Dymaxion House was just as Fortune magazine described it: the industry that industry missed. [...]

R. Buckminster Fuller described himself as a “terrific package of experiences.” The record of Fuller’s uncredited duplication of prior work suggests that he was at times a terrific package of other people’s experiences.

The Lost Inventions of Buckminster Fuller (Part 3 of 3)

Permaculture for Renters

Over the years, I’ve often wondered at the unique and sometimes confusing situation of the urban-renter-beginner-permaculturist: trying to figure out how to utilize the ethics and principles of a framework originally conceived to develop areas thousands of acres in size, while often finding oneself without access to an area even hundreds of square feet in size.

While most permaculture teachers will tell you that the ethics and principles of permaculture are not limited to rural broadacre applications, the vast majority of literature on the subject (not to mention course curriculum) displays no uncertain preference for rolling food forested hills, cascading ponds, and just beyond, the beckoning vastness of Zone 5.

(My point of entry into this wonderful world, Permaculture Two, mostly referred to properties that were comparable in acreage to the more notable state parks in the area! Meanwhile, I was trying to figure out how to reconcile a desire to grow massive amounts of food with reality that I couldn’t dig up the lawn.)

Permaculture for Renters

(via Biohabit)

Influences on Archinode’s Fab Tree Hab

Archinode checked in on this old post to cite some (pre-Laffoley) influences on the Fab Tree Hab.

primitive hut

The Primitive Hut concept of Marc-Antoine Laugier, from 1753.

living trees grow into homes

living trees grow into homes

Arthur Wiechula’s “Living Trees Grow into Homes” (1923) Arthur Wiechula article on Design Boom

More info: Archinode’s Fab Tree Hab page which includes a full list of references.

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