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✊🏙 A plan to revive US public housing 🏠 Melbourne considers superblocks 🚶‍♀️ Vancouver ridership soars 📈

Hey urbanists! The People's Policy Project, a left-wing think tank financed by small donations, relea
April 8 · Issue #28 · View online
Radical Urbanist
Hey urbanists!
The People’s Policy Project, a left-wing think tank financed by small donations, released a report this week with its plan to revive public housing in the United States. Neither of the major parties would ever propose anything similar, which makes it all the more interesting. The authors have done a great job, and I definitely recommend reading their article, if not the full report.
I’ve also taken a look at transportation in Australia’s two largest cities, particularly after the proposal for superblocks in Melbourne. I used to live in the city, and I still pay attention to what’s going on there, so I thought you might also find it interesting.
At the end, you’ll find links to a number of other great urbanism stories and a shocking video of abandoned cars.
Enjoy, and have a great Sunday!

A social housing plan for everyone
In Vienna, three in five people live in municipal or cooperative housing, and the city could provide a model for the United States. The housing crisis has left nearly half of rental households paying more than 30 percent of their income in rent, and private developers focus on building luxury accommodations, not the affordable housing that is desperately needed.
In response, the People’s Policy Project (3P) has released a paper detailing its plan for a massive expansion of the country’s social housing stock, but instead of serving only the poor, anyone could live in these government-owned municipal developments. The authors present two key benefits of the plan.
First, it adds new rental capacity in the housing market directly where it is needed. By greatly expanding the supply of mid-range and affordable units, it will both accommodate more residents and make existing privately-owned apartments cheaper. […] Second, by allowing people of all incomes to apply to live in these new developments, local governments will be able to charge higher rents to higher-income residents, and thus capture a great deal of capital income. Instead of being a large budgetary burden on cities and the federal government, they could be mostly self-sustaining.
In a piece for The Guardian, 3P president Matt Bruenig argues that this plan addresses the concerns of both YIMBYs and NIMBYs because “[a]n influx of publicly owned, efficiently built apartments would add to the housing supply while minimizing the displacement risks caused by luxury developments.” At the same time, it’s important to remember public housing isn’t just needed in cities, but also in many smaller cities and towns.
Molly Parker is starting a new series with ProPublica focusing on the public housing crisis in the United States. Her first piece looks at how HUD is closing down several complexes after decades of underinvestment and expecting residents to transition to private rentals supported by vouchers. However, that’s leading to some really unstable situations for residents as some are required to move to other towns, sometimes even across state borders. It brings to mind Matthew Desmond’s Evicted, which looks at the issues of poverty and unstable housing in Milwaukee’s poorest neighborhoods.
It’s clear that cities and towns of all sizes have a need for quality, affordable housing, and 3P’s report makes an important contribution to the discussion over how to revive public housing.
A tale of two cities
Melbourne frequently tops rankings for the world’s most liveable cities, and a new proposal by city council aims to make its transportation system even more friendly to pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders.
Inspired by Barcelona, city council may adopt the “superblock” concept which significantly reduces vehicle speeds and expands road space for other activities; and while part of the motivation is to make transportation more efficient, safety is also a major consideration.
With 57 per cent of space in the city taken up by roads and 2016 data showing roads serve only one-third of all trips in the city, the council wants the city space to be used more effectively. […] “Every hour during the morning peak, 15,000 pedestrians cross the Spencer and Collins Street intersection outside Southern Cross Station, which is five times the number of people in cars, yet cars are given twice the amount of time as pedestrians to pass through.”
This effort would be on top of the existing fare-free trams in the CBD, the ongoing work on the Melbourne Metro Tunnel — which will further improve rail services in the city — and the possible Metro 2 that could follow.
Visualization of efficient transportation on Flinders Street in Melbourne
Visualization of efficient transportation on Flinders Street in Melbourne
Meanwhile, in Sydney, the trains remain in a state of crisis (previously discussed in issue 18) with frequent service delays and cancellations after decades of underinvestment. The government is finally responding with an impressive plan for expansion that includes the Metro project and extensions to the rail and light rail networks, but it’s not coming soon enough for residents who rely on the services.
Sydney’s plans for the future present the prospect of a more efficient transportation network, but the government waited too long before making these crucial investments. Melbourne, on the other hand, has made a lot of progress in the past ten years, and thus isn’t having the same level of service problems experienced by Sydneysiders.
Quick links to more stories
Following Uber, Indian ride-hailing giant Ola moves into public transit
📚 Unstaffed bookstore in Dubai trusts customers not to steal
Faced with a homelessness crisis, LA Metro is hiring social workers to try to connect homeless people with services
Video of the week
You might have seen the photos of mountains of dockless bikes in China, but what about the 350,000 abandoned Volkswagens parked at 37 graveyards in the United States?
Volkswagen's car 'graveyard' in California - BBC News
✊️❤️ Thanks for reading, and feel free to follow me on Twitter, Medium, or Instagram for even more!
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