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I am a knitter and crocheter and love to design when I get a chance. I am known as the crazy cat lady with 3 dogs. I am a mother to 3 of my own and step-mother to several. I am also a grandmother.

Anything Knitted and Crocheted

Welcome to my blog. I hope to blog about my knitting and crocheting as well as everyday life. The patterns that I post are original and as such there is copyright on them. When they are based on another pattern there is a link to the pattern.

My husband and I adopted a beautiful dog named Leo. He is a dachshund and absolutely adorable! we adopted him on June 23, 2010 and he has become the love of our lives.

I love to share patterns that I find along the way or to talk about some of the neatest designers that are out there today, so I love to post links to the designs or the designers.

So grab a cup a and sit and enjoy the blog.


Cora

Monday, October 11, 2010

A fantastic article on how social housing affects communities, especially when there is an overconcentration of it....

Housing dollars fuel social chaos: residents

Monday, October 11, 2010
By Karen Kleiss, Edmonton Journal
Martin Garber-Conrad stands in his inner city neighbourhood along 93rd St. near 108th Ave. in Edmonton on September 28, 2010. He is advocating for less social housing in his neighbourhood, with 61 per cent social housing and loads of rooming houses already in the community.
Martin Garber-Conrad stands in his inner city neighbourhood along 93rd St. near 108th Ave. in Edmonton on September 28, 2010. He is advocating for less social housing in his neighbourhood, with 61 per cent social housing and loads of rooming houses already in the community.
Photographed by:
Jason Franson, edmontonjournal.com

EDMONTON - The province is spending tens of millions of dollars to build hundreds of subsidized homes in Edmonton's most impoverished and blighted communities, which some residents warn will exacerbate the severe social problems in those neighbourhoods.

A Journal analysis of city and provincial data shows nearly 30 per cent of the city's subsidized housing units are concentrated in Edmonton's 13 most distressed neighbourhoods, while more than 60 have none at all.
Still, in recent years half of all the money the province has spent to build homes for the needy has paid for projects in 13 struggling communities, and inner-city residents say their neighbourhoods are on the verge of social chaos.

"It's not unfair to use the word ghetto," said Martin Garber-Conrad, a McCauley resident who has been working to house vulnerable people for more than 25 years. "It got to be too much. It got to the tipping point, where finally there were too many."

There is no question concentrating poverty in small areas has severe consequences for the people who live there.

Studies show residents are less healthy, less educated and have fewer job options, experience more violence and are more likely to join gangs.

Suburbanites suffer too, paying higher taxes to service sprawl and to support high-needs communities they are sometimes afraid to visit.

City leaders have begun to address this concentration of poverty, and have identified 13 extremely distressed "high-threshold" neighbourhoods with soaring poverty rates and a low quality of life.

The high concentration of subsidized housing isn't the sole cause of concentrated poverty in these neighbourhoods, but it is an important contributing factor: On average, 15 per cent of the housing stock in the 13 communities is subsidized, compared to a citywide average of 4.8 per cent.

In Garber-Conrad's community, 61 per cent of the housing is for subsidized tenants.

"When you concentrate hundreds or thousands of people with similar challenges in the same area, it is almost impossible for it to work, no matter how well-funded and how well-run the individual projects are," he said.
"The fact is, when you concentrate poverty and all the associated problems in a single area, you either have, or are at risk of creating, a ghetto."

The provincial government continues to fund the construction of subsidized housing in Edmonton's most troubled communities as part of a five-year, $1.1-billion affordable housing campaign.

The massive influx of cash began in the spring of 2007, when a blistering economy ratcheted rents to new highs and an all-party Affordable Housing Task Force reported that thousands of Albertans were on waiting lists to get into subsidized housing.

The province responded by promising to build 11,000 new affordable housing units by 2012.
Since then, Alberta's Department of Housing and Urban Affairs has poured nearly $934 million into building new subsidized housing units in the province.

Nearly $223 million came to Edmonton, and roughly half went directly to the city and was used to build about 1,600 affordable homes and secondary suites.

The province itself handed out $113 million, asking for proposals from not-for-profit organizations, societies and private developers.

505 UNITS, FOUR AREAS
The $57 million in projects the province funded added 505 new subsidized housing units to four of Edmonton's most distressed neighbourhoods: McCauley, Boyle Street, Central McDougall and Garneau.
One in three units is destined for McCauley, pushing the neighbourhood's rate of subsidized housing above 61 per cent. Central McDougall, where half of all residents live below the poverty line, will get 112 new units. Boyle Street gets 188.

Seven of the city's poor but healthier "medium-threshold" neighbourhoods will get nearly 440 units among them.

Edmonton also has more than 175 low-threshold neighbourhoods: healthy communities that have little or no subsidized housing, mostly financially stable residents and a good quality of life. A total of 111 units will be built in four of those neighbourhoods.

Not a single unit will be built south of Whyte Avenue.

Housing Minister Jonathan Denis said the province relies on proponents to select the locations of new subsidized housing developments.

"If we don't receive any applications for a certain area, we're not able to fund a project there," he said. "We give them information, we give them guidance, but at the same time it's up to the proposer to submit something for a given area. We don't step into that."

He said the province understands the problem and has changed its request for proposals to encourage applications to build scattered, mixed-use housing. The request for proposals now reads: "Preference will be given to proposals ... that do not contribute to the overconcentration of publicly funded or supported housing in any one neighbourhood."

If the department doesn't get quality applications for developments outside those 13 high-threshold neighbourhoods this year, Denis said he will further tweak the request for proposals next year.

In the meantime, this year's proposals will go ahead after consultation with city council and residents.
"We have $188 million that we've earmarked for that, and the premier has a goal of putting in 11,000 affordable units by 2010," he said. "We will work with what we have."

SOCIAL BURDEN 

The best evidence suggests Edmonton's central neighbourhoods ended up shouldering the heaviest social burdens because governments failed to plan otherwise.

In the early 1970s, city council passed an "inclusive zoning" bylaw that required developers to set aside five per cent of land in new developments for affordable housing. The courts struck down the bylaw in 1979, and as a result the majority of new developments in Edmonton have none.

Until the mid-'90s, developers had to conduct a social impact assessment before building, with a view to ensuring that social conditions were factored into development decisions. The practice was abandoned in 1995.

In the years since, the money that trickled into the subsidized housing sector was used by community groups focused on helping vulnerable and disadvantaged people, not on urban planning.

"There wasn't a deliberate plan for targeting where new buildings should be, it really came down to what was the availability of land at the right price," said Greg Bounds, who has been building non-market housing in Edmonton for two decades and is now executive director of the Capital Region Housing Corporation, the largest provider of subsidized housing in Edmonton.

"It was a financial model. We knew what the grant would be, we knew what the rents had to be fixed at to be affordable. The cost of construction was well-known, so what it came back to was the cost of land. It was a market solution."

Once established, it made sense to leverage existing services in known communities.

Bounds said he and his staff are working to implement the changes Denis is encouraging, but the directions aren't yet clear.

"My role as a practitioner and developer is to respond to what has been identified as the need," he said. "I say give us the planning framework, we will work within it. It's very important for us to get those clear directional signals from the province and the city about how they want us to marshal our resources."
While they wait for policy decisions, Garber-Conrad and his neighbours continue the struggle to rehabilitate their communities.

He and other inner-city residents know it's not just the subsidized housing that causes concentrated poverty and the social chaos that comes with it.

Dozens of social agencies draw impoverished and troubled people from all over the city, Garber-Conrad said, and the criminals and drug dealers follow them like predators. Prostitutes come and go.

SLUM LANDLORDS 

Rooming houses run by slum landlords are a big problem, too. Health inspectors say 25 per cent of all homes ruled unfit for human habitation were in three high-threshold neighbourhoods, and Garber-Conrad said slum landlords won't fix up their homes until the province takes them to court.

He estimates 75 per cent of the homes in his neighbourhood are either subsidized housing or rooming houses, leaving precious few homes for families who want to fix up old properties, raise their children and make a contribution.

"This isn't about NIMBY, in fact, a lot of low-income housing is already in our back yard, and we're not trying to get rid of it," he said.

"But it's time for the rest of the city to share the wealth. Those communities that have no low-income housing could move up to seven per cent without harm. We're over 50 per cent. Even one more project is going to mean this community won't work at all anymore."

- - -
SPECIAL REPORT
The province has poured more than $1 billion into subsidized housing since 2007, when Premier Ed Stelmach promised to build 11,000 new affordable housing units. Where did the money go? Journal reporter Karen Kleiss and database editor Lucas Timmons followed the cash -- right into Edmonton's most beleaguered communities.

With the municipal election days away, some Edmontonians are wondering: Is this the way we want to build our city?

- Today: Why did five of every 10 subsidized housing dollars go to building more units in the city's 13 most distressed communities?

- Tuesday: The city has a plan to ease the concentration of subsidized housing, but can it work in the long term?

- Online: Go to edmontonjournal.com/housing for an interactive map and a searchable database where you can see how much subsidized housing is in your neighbourhood, and who lives there.


© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal

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Cora Shaw (formerly Levesque)