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May 6, 2013 / Christian Clansky

Is ‘social housing’ a solution to our affordable housing challenges?

HOUSING | Opinion: Roger Lewis, a professor emeritus from the University of Maryland, revisits some familiar statistics that showcase how un-affordable housing has become for both low- and moderate-income families. He even sketched the cartoon to the right to drive the point home. But he takes the conversation a step further and suggests a possible path forward (WaPo, 5/4):

We should take a cue from Europe, where countries such as Denmark and Austria build “social housing.” Social housing is public housing, but only in the sense that it is government-financed. European social housing is subsidized yet serves middle-class as well as low-income households, thereby avoiding many of the socioeconomic issues associated with America’s public housing.

Using the words “social” and “Europe” in an American policy debate virtually guarantees immediate dismissal. But that fact aside, what do you think of Lewis’ idea?

Related: Last week, WRAG released a new report on housing affordability in the Greater Washington region – What Funders Need to Know: Housing. It details many of the affordability issues that Lewis mentions. (Daily, 4/30)

Related: Earlier in the spring, WRAG heard from former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros about ways that funders can support housing affordability. Check out number eight on his list, which directly relates to Roger Lewis’ idea of “social housing.” (Daily, 3/26)

Related: Housing Crash Fades as Defaults Decline to 2007 Levels (Bloomberg, 5/6) Related: What the heck, how many times can we write “related” in one issue?

Event: Next Saturday, the Communications Action Network (CAN), is sponsoring its Parade of Homes. The event features open houses at 20 affordable housing communities across the region. It’s a great opportunity to see the range of options and quality for local affordable homes. [Learn more.]

HOMELESSNESS | Advocates, City Officials Spar Over Homeless Amendments (CP, 5/3)

AGING | This is a tough but important read – Elderly Couple’s Tale Of Abuse Not So Uncommon (WAMU, 4/4)

GIVING | Opinion: The Hudson Institute’s William Schambra writes about the politics and potential impact of “genuine compassionate conservatism.” (Chronicle, 5/1)

BOOK REVIEW | In today’s Daily, The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia’s president, Eileen Ellsworth, reviews Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World by Leslie R. Crutchfield, John V. Kania, and Mark R. Kramer. You can read the full review here. Eileen writes that the book is a worthwhile read for all funders (Daily, 5/6):

[Do More Than Give] is a useful and thought provoking work for every kind of donor, in any kind of community. If you are looking for a practical, step by step manual for how to become a more effective donor, this book has a very great deal to offer.

TRANSIT | If you’ve ever ridden the New York subway and accidentally ended up on an express train to the Bronx when you were aiming for Brooklyn, then you probably appreciate the relative simplicity of our Metro system. And if you haven’t had that experience, lucky you, because it’s a time-consuming mistake that makes you feel like a helpless dimbulb.

Our addition of the Silver Line – and it’s graphical rendering on the WMATA system map – is pushing things into confusing territory. (Atlantic, 5/6)


I’ve been trying to find something funny to share with you on this gloomy Monday. There’s a whole website of hilarious – sometimes intentionally and sometimes not – web product reviews. I can’t vouch for the appropriateness of the whole site, but this entry amused me. I guess a ceiling fan is a cheap alternative to these dudes.

And if you aren’t in the mood to laugh, here’s a really beautiful song – Where Our Destination Lies by Ben Gibbard. I don’t think I’ve shared it here before. Apologies if I have, but it’s a great one.

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