Labels

9-line access access management access point accessibility ADA air quality alignment amenity antiplanner atlanta BART BID bike Blogs boston branded bus branded buses brookings brt bus Bus Rapid Transit BYU capacity car pool cars central link Centrality certification commuter rail condo conformity congestion congestion pricing connections consistency coverage crossings CRT cycling DART dedicated dedicated right of way density denver depreciation developers development dynamic pricing economics efficiency Envision Utah equity eugene exclusive extension FAQ favela Federal Funding Flex Bus florida free fare zone freeways Frequent Transit Network frontrunner frontunner Gallivan garden cities gas prices geotagging goat Google grade-separation Granary District growth headway heavy rail hedonic High Speed Rail history housing housing affordability housing bubble housing prices HOV income infill innovative intersections intensity ITS junk science LA land use LEED legacy city light rail linear park location LRT lyft M/ART malls mapping maps market urbanism metrics metro MetroRail missoula mixed mixed traffic mixed-traffic mobile mode choice Mode Share multi-family MXD neighborhood networks news NIMBY office online op-ed open letter Operations parking parking meters peak travel pedestrian environment phasing Photomorphing planning Portland property property values Provo proximity quality_transit rail railvolution rant rapid rapid transit RDA real estate redevelopment reliability research retail Ridership ridesharing right of way roadway network ROW salt lake city san diego schedule schedule span seattle separated shuttle silver line single family SLC SLC transit master plan slums smartphone snow sprawl standing stop spacing streetcar streetscape streetscaping subdivision subsidy Sugarhouse Sugarhouse Streetcar Tacoma taxi technology tenure termini time-separation TOD townhouse traffic signal tram transit transit networks transit oriented development Transit Planning transponder transportation travel time TRAX trip planning trolley tunnel uber university of utah urban design urban economics urban land UTA UTA 2 Go Trip Planner utah Utah County Utah Transit Authority vmt walking distance web welfare transit Westside Connector WFRC wheelchairs zoning

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Homelessness

I've spent a strange amount of time talking with the homeless. Partially as a result of so much time spent walking around various cities, and partially because I was willing to hold a civil conversation. But mostly, I am forced to believe, because I didn't look like I had any money. What I wore was thrifted, worn, slept in, and stained. But I had some great conversations. But when I got an office job, that changed. There was a lot less mutual civility, and the panhandling was a lot more aggressive. I was less a person and more of an ATM.

Homelessness makes most people uncomfortable, for both reasons of wretchedness and panhandling. Its easy to wish they would just disappear and stop bothering us. But I think we do most of the long-term homeless a real disservice. There are some that live reasonably decent lives, on combinations of grifting, begging, charity, and working. And there are some that are a wretched mess. Our experience with the former makes us try to banish the latter.

I've become a big believer in the 'housing first' strategy to end homelessness. Talking to service providers, I've come to realize that the vast majority of the homeless population are temporarily homeless. A couple of months here and there, getting a new job, money for a deposit on an apartment, whatever. But you've got a hard-core who are homeless for years, if not decades. From what I've read, that hard-core consumes 80% of the system resources, in outreach, medical treatment, police complaints, counseling, etc.

Housing can be done cheaply and easily. Land price chews up about 20% of the value, and half of that space is typically used for parking. Eliminate that, and you can build at some pretty high densities, even with three-story walk-up apartments. Windows and natural light should be mandatory, of course.

Of course, excessive concentration should be avoided. Just because you can build at high densities doesn't mean you should build a whole lot at high densities. The rule of thumb I've heard is that no more then five percent should be subsidized, or else the price of market rate units will be affected. The structure itself can be done pretty cheaply. Appliances would be a great place to cut costs. I live in an apartment. It's not a great apartment, but it has a stove with range, micro-wave, and dishwasher. All in all, a lot of expensive alliances. But you can eat pretty well with a two-burner hotplate and a microwave. I'll call a full-sized refrigerator a waste as well. I certainly don't use more than a fraction of mine.

Beyond that, I'll leave it up to the architects.