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The 6 Most Walkable Urban Areas

Dive Brief: 

  • New York City, Denver, Boston, Washington, DC, the San Francisco Bay Area and Chicago have been ranked the most “walkable” metro areas, according to the 2019 Foot Traffic Ahead report by The George Washington University School of Business and Smart Growth America.
  • Cities like Tampa, FL; Orlando, FL; and Phoenix still have “an uphill climb to create walkable places,” the report says. Those cities have been unwilling to make changes due to public policies and infrastructure investments that continue to promote drivable suburban sprawl, according to the report.
  • People are willing to pay more to live or work in a walkable, transit-friendly neighborhood, the report says. Meeting those walkability demands can build a stronger and more resilient economic foundation than an economy based on suburban growth, according to the results.

Dive Insight: 

The report ranks the 30 biggest metro areas in the U.S. based on the percentage of office, retail and rental multi-family space within their walkable urban places. The results revealed a total of 761 regionally specific, walkable urban places among the top 30 metro areas.

Walkability has become an increasingly important factor for city dwellers. A 2015 report by the National Association of Realtors found that eight in 10 people value being in walking distance to community fixtures like parks and shops.

Park access is also improving across the country’s biggest cities, touting benefits for residents like improved rates of mortality, mood and physical activity. Washington, DC and the Twin Cities top the list for the country’s best park systems. But there’s still room to grow. About 11.2 million people in the biggest cities have to walk more than 10 minutes to reach their closest park.

The impetus on walkability is a major shift from the subdivisions built in the 1950s through 1970s, designed for driving with few available walking paths or sidewalks. But despite the many benefits of park access and walkability —health, environment, community and property values — these initiatives also pose new obstacles, including safety and social equity concerns.

The Foot Traffic Ahead report advised that DC and New York City “aggressively” create more affordable housing in the short-term to prevent low-income households from leaving walkable areas. And in the long-term, the cities were advised to build more general housing, create more available walkable urban land and increase wages.

As walkable spaces expand, cities will also need to consider new pedestrian connections like traffic signals or underpasses to help people reach their destinations safely.

Source: smartcitiesdive

Food And Housing Insecurity Biggest Barrier For Uni Students

The 2018 Higher Education Accommodation and Financial Stress Survey focused on the financial stress (such as housing and food security) that domestic and international students faced while in tertiary education.

About 1,200 people enrolled in tertiary education responded to the survey by researchers at the Swinburne University of Technology.

More than half of respondents (55 percent) said financial stress had a direct impact on at least one area of study.

“There were also differences in the impact of financial stress according to levels of financial stress,” the study said.

“Students with high levels of financial stress reported that this significantly impacted all areas of study more than those with moderate, or low levels of financial stress, respectively.”

Almost 32 percent of students said financial stress prevented them from completing assessments “to the best of their ability”, while almost 28 percent said financial stress stopped them from attending classes.

Nearly 14 percent said financial stress made them consider leaving university.

Just under two-thirds of students said they had worked during the semester, with domestic students averaging about 17 hours a week (but ranged from zero to 55 hours).

Despite this, nearly 70 percent were on low incomes less than $20,000 and 50 percent received government benefits, with Youth Allowance being the most common.

Almost 16 percent of respondents said they had experienced food insecurity with hunger, meaning they had not eaten when hungry because they did not have enough money.

A further 11 percent claimed to have experienced some sort of food insecurity.

Free food services provided by the university, such as food banks and free meals, were accessed by nearly a third of students who otherwise would not have been able to afford to eat.

The National Union of Students told 10 daily that financial stress and insecurity is one the biggest issues it advocates about.

“We’ve been saying for years that the government must raise the rate of Youth Allowance and other student income support,” said Desiree Cai, President of the National Student Union.

“Students who have to rely on these income support payments are often living in poverty, and this report has shown that these vulnerable students are being left behind– their academic performance, mental health and general wellbeing is suffering as a result.”

The results of this survey do not come as a shock, said Katie Acheson, CEO of Youth Action.

“We often hear from students that they are struggling to make ends meet,” she told 10 daily.

For many students, pursuing tertiary education means they have to leave their homes and social networks, which can increase their financial and psychological stress.

“They have to live in cities which means higher rents, so managing work

“They also lose having those connections for work and places to live.”

 

The recent loss of penalty rates in sectors that students tend to work is also an added stress, she added.

Acheson said it’s a “challenging time” for young people — one that older generations don’t understand.

“Things may seem similar to before, but there are many challenges now,” she said.

“Rents are more expensive, and so is the cost of living than the 1980s. The standard of living for young people today is lower than older generations.

“And then there’s the question of whether the degrees are worth it — young people are taking on massive debts and are wondering if their degrees will help them.”

Australia is not the only country where young people are struggling to get ahead.

A recent survey in the United Kingdom have found a”poverty of hope” among young people, with more than two-thirds believing they will be worse off than their parents.

A Barnardo’s-commissioned study found more than a third of 16 to 24-year-olds are negative about their future, citing a lack of jobs, money worries and high house prices.

Changes in the workforce and technological advances have left many, including Harry Scott, 16, nervous about their future when looking for jobs.

“With the technology evolving all the time it’s hard for jobs to be secure because there’s so much change that will only accelerate and certain jobs will become obsolete,’ he said.

Cai said the cost of living for students is often the biggest barrier for students continuing their education.

“Students are often faced with hard choices because of the cost of living,” he said.

“They’re choosing between affording their next meal or their textbooks for the semester, they’re choosing between skipping classes to attend work, or losing those wages and going hungry.”

Source: 10daily

A New Approach on Housing Affordability

A growing number of Americans are struggling to cope with the high and rising cost of rental housing in the United States. On any given night last year, more than half a million Americans were homeless. Nearly 11 million households managed to keep a roof over their heads only by spending more than 50 percent of their income on rent, sharply curtailing their spending on food, health care and other needs.

Millions more cannot afford to live in the neighborhoods where children are most likely to thrive, or in the cities where jobs are concentrated.

Democratic presidential candidates are promoting industrial-strength plans to ease the pain. The ideas come in two flavors: subsidies for renters, and efforts to increase construction.

The focus on construction is a welcome development. The United States is in the depths of a decade-long construction drought that is driving up the cost of existing homes. Builders added about 1.2 million units last year; Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies estimates the nation needs another quarter-million units a year to keep pace with population growth. A key reason for the shortfall is that local governments are impeding construction.

Three candidates — Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey; Julian Castro, the former secretary of housing and urban development under President Barack Obama; and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — have proposed that the federal government should pressure local governments to allow more development.

Mr. Booker and Mr. Castro have proposed that the federal government should require local governments to adopt land-use reforms before they can obtain federal funding for infrastructure projects. The point is not to mandate construction of skyscrapers in place of suburban subdivisions. Rather, it is to require local jurisdictions to make reasonable plans to accommodate population growth — for example, by allowing small-scale apartment buildings in single-family neighborhoods. It is simply not in the public interest to subsidize infrastructure in cities that are preventing housing construction.

 

Ms. Warren has proposed a variant on the same theme: awarding $10 billion in new funding to governments that adopt land-use reforms. In addition to the philosophical case for using carrots rather than sticks, Ms. Warren’s program aims to induce greater participation by wealthy low-density communities that receive relatively little money from existing programs.

This is similar to the Obama administration’s Race to the Top education grants, which were awarded to states that adopted changes like performance-based teacher evaluations. Forty-six states and the District of Columbia sought grants under that program, and 18 states, along with the district, enacted policy changes.

More market-rate development is a worthy goal in its own right, because middle-income households increasingly are unable to afford housing in the metropolitan areas where economic opportunity is concentrated. Expanding the supply of housing also helps low-income families who might otherwise find themselves priced out of their apartments.

This embrace of deregulation merits particular praise because the states most resistant to allowing housing construction are the strongholds of the Democratic Party, in the Northeast and along the Pacific Coast, and the most resistant voters are the wealthy residents of those states who provide so much of the funding for Democratic presidential campaigns.

There is also a real prospect that a Democratic president could persuade Republicans to adopt such a plan. Some Senate Republicans have expressed broad support for the concept; President Trump recently created a White House council to explore the issue.

 

Market-rate development, however, is not a sufficient solution. For millions of lower-income Americans, the rent is simply too high. A variety of government programs, including public housing, subsidized housing and rent vouchers, provide affordable homes for roughly five million families. But as many as 18 million more need similar help. Families with small children who spend more than 50 percent of their monthly income on rent must forgo other necessities. On average, they spend 35 percent less on food and 74 percent less on health care than families with the same incomes who are able to find affordable housing.

Several presidential candidates have proposed expanding federal subsidies for renters.

Senator Kamala Harris of California has proposed a new tax credit, at an estimated cost of $93 billion a year, for lower-income renters who spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Mr. Booker has proposed a more generous tax credit for renters that would cost about $134 billion per year, largely because it does not phase out benefits for renters whose incomes approach the maximum for eligibility.

And Mr. Castro has proposed an even more expansive — and expensive — package: He would offer housing vouchers to any family making less than 50 percent of the local median income, roughly quadrupling the existing Section 8 housing voucher program, and he would offer a tax credit to any family making between 50 and 100 percent of the median income and paying more than 30 percent of its income in rent.

The four candidates — Mr. Booker, Mr. Castro, Ms. Harris and Ms. Warren — also have proposed policies to increase homeownership, particularly among minorities. Such policies, if successful, could ease the demand for rental units. But the details of their proposals vary significantly, and deserve separate consideration.

The plans for rent subsidies reflect a tendency among the crowded field of Democratic candidates to behave as if the election were an auction in which the highest bidder will claim the nomination.

 

The Harris plan is particularly ill conceived because she has not proposed any companion effort to increase the supply of housing. There is a surface logic to giving money to people who can’t afford to pay the rent. Increasing the demand for housing without increasing the supply, however, tends to drive up prices. A 2005 increase in the value of federal housing vouchers ended up lining the pockets of landlords, according to one study.

Mr. Booker and Mr. Castro both have proposed to increase federal subsidies for the construction of affordable housing, but the dollar figures are dwarfed by the subsidies for renters. The priorities should be reversed: Building housing should be the primary goal.

Ms. Warren has avoided any increase in rental subsidies, proposing to focus exclusively on construction. But the implicit logic, that any given dollar is best spent on building, goes too far. Increasing the supply of housing is the work of decades, and many lower-income families require rent subsidies even to afford construction-subsidized buildings.

Rent subsidies also hold promise as a tool for reducing residential segregation. Poor children raised in economically diverse neighborhoods thrive by comparison with those raised in concentrations of poverty, yet subsidized housing tends to be built in neighborhoods with high levels of poverty. Under the Obama administration, renters in some cities were offered larger vouchers if they agreed to move to areas with better schools, where housing tends to be more expensive.

The early results were promising, and the program deserves to be revived and expanded. Proposals to make federal infrastructure funding contingent on land use reform also might be usefully extended by requiring affluent communities to accept affordable housing projects.

 

The federal government is an irresistible force when it chooses to prioritize an issue. It is past time to prioritize the availability of affordable housing.

Source: nytimes

A Housing Lifeline For Low-Income Residents

Anyone who’s ever watched a TV cop drama knows about Miranda warnings and a citizen’s constitutionally protected right to an attorney when accused of a crime.

But what you may not learn on television is that when it comes to civil cases, including housing and eviction disputes, there is no right to counsel in a system that favors landlords.

The Housing Justice Alliance, an initiative led by the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, aims to restore balance for low-income residents who could never afford an attorney on their own.

If successfully established, it could make Cleveland just the fourth city in the country — behind New York City, San Francisco and Newark, N.J. — with a guaranteed right to counsel, something that stands to benefit not just the individuals and their families facing eviction, but the wider community and, perhaps counterintuitively, even the real estate market itself.

Statistics from the Ohio Supreme Court indicate there are roughly 9,000 evictions filed each year in Cleveland — where about 58% of all homes are rentals — and about 20,000 countywide.

According to an analysis by The Eviction Lab, an average of 12 people were evicted each day in Cleveland in 2016, where the eviction rate of 4.53% is nearly double the national average.

Traditionally, just 1% to 2% of those cases involve an attorney on the tenants’ side, according to legal aid attorneys, while landlords almost always have lawyers in tow.

The hearings typically last all of five minutes, said Hazel Remesch, supervising attorney in the housing group for Cleveland Legal Aid. The nonprofit regularly assists low-income residents facing eviction, although because of already stretched resources that’s still only a fraction of those who might qualify for help.

As Remesch explained, the courts are designed to move eviction cases through the system quickly, tipping the scales in favor of lawyer-backed landlords versus tenants who often don’t show up to their hearings at all. Those who do appear often don’t know their rights or how to plead a case when they might have recourse against their landlord for something like unsuitable living conditions. Without a lawyer, those concerns are almost never raised.

“At the end of those five minutes, the usual outcome is the tenant loses their housing. But they’ve been put in that situation without having the information on what their rights are, what defenses the could have raised, or told of what negotiations representation could bring,” Remesch said. “I think the system has been created in a way that it’s really landlord-friendly.”

Critics say housing courts have become machines designed to process evictions, not necessarily to administer justice.

“So what a right to counsel does is change the landscape,” Remesch pointed out. “It disrupts the system and generally makes the process more fair.”

Securing funding for the program is legal aid’s current challenge.

Why a right to counsel?

The idea is to address systemic issues created by eviction, which can have a compounding impact on displaced tenants, who, without their home, may end up on the streets or in prison, or may lose their job or kids, or worse.

Affected children may end up bouncing between school districts, or missing school altogether, creating instability that begets other problems and straining social services.

So addressing eviction means addressing the factors that lead to homelessness, and the other issues that leads to, said John Pollock, coordinator for the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel.

“Say someone becomes homeless or ends up in a shelter. Those are taxpayer-funded services. Say they went to prison or there’s court time spent on prosecuting them for whatever vagrancy crime. The cost of shelter services (in New York City) alone was something like $36,000 a year for one family,” Pollock noted. “When you look at the cost of counsel, it’s a pittance compared to that.”

Businesses don’t tend to like homeless people and often lobby for ordinances criminalizing homelessness, Pollock added. Economically speaking, “the better answer is not to make people homeless in the first place.” That can often be as simple as helping someone bridge the gap of one rent or utility payment or helping them negotiate a way to stave off eviction.

“We consider a right to counsel as preventive legal medicine,” Pollock said. “It’s intervening in a system at the point where you can treat the underlying problem instead of just the symptom.”

There’s also the ideological sense of justice that comes with it and is absent otherwise.

Yet half the people who face eviction don’t even show up to court at all, let alone with a lawyer.

“And why would that be? Because the system is horribly broken and they know it,” Pollock said.

What comes next

In Cleveland, legal aid is ironing out the details of its inaugural program as it works with city council. That includes finalizing the parameters for support and priorities for anyone receiving help, such as having a young family, said legal aid managing attorney Abigail Staudt.

There also needs to be a framework for the rollout of the entitlement, which could take several years to hit full implementation, similar to what New York City is doing.

Ultimately, legal aid would like to see the right to counsel expand for all of Cuyahoga County.

Other details involve how the attached funding mechanism could work. For example, the related funds might be used to outright cover a single month of rent or a utility payment for a needy tenant, avoiding the need for an eviction hearing at all.

That all comes down to funding, the need for which could vary depending on the look of the program. Securing funding likely means striking a number of community and philanthropic partnerships.

Like many grass-roots initiatives, the challenge in moving from concept to practice, whether with donor groups or city council, will be getting that first group to step up with money.

“We already know it’s the morally right thing to do,” Remesch said. “We are trying to solve really major issues our community has faced and in that process, it will make the bottom line look better for our entire community.”

The impact

New York City legislated a right to counsel in summer 2017, following a three-year tenants’ rights campaign, becoming the first city in the U.S. to do so. It took backing by city council, which established the right through legislation and a mandate to fund it. The related funds largely pay for legal aid attorneys, who assist those facing eviction living at 200% or below of the federal poverty line. The program is being phased in through various ZIP codes until fully implemented in 2022.

It’s a little over $150 million for five years, said Susanna Blankley, coalition coordinator for the Right to Counsel NYC Coalition.

“Evictions are about power, not individual facts of a case,” Blankley said. “They’re used en masse because landlords have had control over the court system for so long. It’s a tool to scare, gentrify and displace. It won’t shift the balance of power unless all tenants know they have a right to fight with the same tools landlords have in housing court.”

According to New York City’s Office of Civil Justice, the program had a transformative effect in just one year. In that time, 84% of tenants provided a lawyer stayed in their homes (22,000 households), with total evictions dropping 14%. And landlords began suing people less often, with eviction filings dropping 5% by the next summer.

Other cities followed with different programs backing the right to counsel with variations between them. Pollock said similar initiatives are gaining ground in other markets, including Philadelphia, Detroit and Los Angeles.

A study commissioned in Philly (one is in the works in Cleveland involving Case Western Reserve University, but hasn’t been completed yet) showed that 30% of tenants facing eviction would not be able to afford legal representation. While serving them could cost about $3.5 million annually, the costs associated with things like social services that would be avoided if those tenants weren’t evicted would be more than $45 million.

That creates an estimated ROI of $12.74 for every dollar spent supporting low-income tenants facing eviction, said Neil Steinkamp, a managing director with Stout Risius Ross, a Chicago advisory firm that completed the Philly study and others like it. He suggested that results of a study in Cleveland might look similar to Philly’s.

While Cleveland Legal Aid said the dollar figure for funding a program annually in Cleveland has not been determined yet, it’s likely in the neighborhood of low to mid-seven figures.

Praise and criticism

Critics of a right to counsel might include landlords. A May Cleveland.com story about city council preparing to introduce legislation related to Cleveland’s Housing Justice Alliance drew commenters who criticized council for “working against landlords who only wish to receive rent on time.” Some suggested it would be a deterrent from owning rental properties in the city.

But criticism is more of a “knee-jerk” reaction by some in the landlord community, said Christian Patno, an immediate past president of the Cleveland Academy of Trial Attorneys and HJA advisory committee member.

“With this, we think we will be able to help landlords by facilitating tenants who are consistent and able to stay and help those tenants who have complicated issues or just aren’t understood to help facilitate a discussion and resolve a dispute so eviction can be avoided,” Patno said. “In that way, it’s a win-win.”

Landlords sought out by Crain’s generally praised the HJA.

“Anyone working in the multifamily business, regardless of area of specialty, deals with evictions. It’s an inevitable part of the business. We believe regulations like the HJA will have a negative impact on property managers who do not follow the rules, and we believe that this outcome is precisely the point of the legislation,” said David Heller, CEO of NRP Enterprises, which has more than 50 communities across Northeast Ohio. “We can imagine that the legislation may create some additional work for the management companies who play by the rules, but as a whole, we believe that this is a small price to pay if it has a beneficial impact on the unfortunate individuals who find themselves on the receiving end of unfair treatment.

“We think the greatest application of the HJA will be in circumstances where residents are battling cases of wrongful eviction, such as discrimination and other unlawful practices,” he added. “In those instances, we see this as a great benefit for those seeking representation.”

After learning of legal aid’s work, Garfield Heights Municipal Court Judge Deborah Nicastro was inspired to look at a smaller right-to-counsel program in that city, independent of the one sought in Cleveland that could serve as a pilot program.

Nicastro’s court handled 900 evictions last year, much fewer than Cleveland. Still, most people “have no clue what their rights and responsibilities are,” she said, adding that most of the time spent with tenants in housing court is educating them. Legal support would likely result in different outcomes beyond eviction.

“I thought this would be a good way for them to have individual representation to explain all that before we get into the trial process,” she said. “A judge has to be impartial during hearings. I’m not supposed to help a landlord or tenant. But when the understanding is deficient on one side, then the system just doesn’t work.”

Source: crainscleveland

Reasons Why CBN Directed DMBs to Loan out their Deposits Revealed

For any country to survive, it economy must boom, and for this to happen, there must be a transformation made possible by the creation of conducive and enabling environment for businesses to thrive, as well as formulating goal-oriented policy initiatives to make the country an economic hub.

This was what the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had in mind when it directed all Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) to lend out a minimum of 60% of their deposits. This move, according to the apex bank, is also to improve lending to the real sector of the country’s economy.

In a letter to all banks titled, “Regulatory measures to improve lending to economy”, signed by Ahmad Abdullahi, CBN’s Director, Banking Supervision, the apex bank made known that its new directive would take effect from September 2019.

Consequently, DMBs are required to maintain a minimum loan to Deposit Ratio (LDR) of 60% by September 30, 2019. This ratio, the Central Bank said shall be subject to quarterly review.

CBN, however, warned that failure of any DMB to meet the minimum LDR by the specified date shall result in a levy of additional Cash Reserve Requirement equal to 50% of the lending shortfall of the target LDR.

The letter read, “In order to ramp up growth in the Nigerian economy through investment in the real sector, CBN has approved the following measures: All DMBs are hereby required to maintain a minimum Loan to Deposit Ratio (LDR) of 60% by September 30, 2019. This ratio shall be subject to quarterly review.

To encourage SMEs, Retail, Mortgage and Consumer lending, these sectors shall be assigned a weight of 150% in computing the LDR for this purpose. The CBN shall provide a framework for classification of enterprises/businesses that fall under these categories.

Failure to meet the above minimum LDR by the specified date shall result in a levy of additional Cash Reserve Requirement equal to 50% of the lending shortfall of the target LDR.”

Why this matter: With an average LDR around 40%, it would not be erroneous to assert that Nigerian banks are some of the most reluctant lenders in major emerging markets. According to a data compiled by Bloomberg, the average ratio across Africa is 78%. South Africa tops the chart with 90% while Kenya Kenya is at 76%.

A look into what the LDR entails: LDR is an instrument deployed to assess a bank’s liquidity by comparing its total loans to its total deposits for the same period. In this process, if the ration appears too high, it means that the bank may not have enough liquidity to cover any unforeseen fund requirements, especially if the loan repayments fall short of schedule. Conversely, if the ratio is too low, the bank may not be earning as much as it could from the deposits it had taken at a cost.

Source: nairametrics

Untold Story of a Pension Scheme

Pension is important for employees to prepare for their old age when they must have retired from active service. In the past, pension administration was fraught with many challenges ranging from fraud to poor documentation. The reform to pension administration which began in 2004 has by and large brought succour to pensioners. MOSES EMORINKEN writes about the challenges facing pension.

The Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) came as a beacon of hope to millions of pensioners and prospective retirees because it brought in its wake  expectations of a safe and secured retirement life.

From its inception in 2004 and further amendments of the Pension Reform Act (PFA) in 2014, the CPS has not only surpassed expectations, but has contributed immensely to the economy of the country – pooling over N8.9trillion in pension asset that nine parameters for compliance with the CPS – these parameters are: enactment of law, administrative structure, registration of employees, choice of pension fund administrator, remittance of pension contributions, actuarial valuation, opening Retirement Benefits Bond Redemption Fund Account (RBBRFA), funding of accrued rights and group life insurance.

 

What’s important to average worker?

Among the nine parameters by PenCom for a fully compliant state to the CPS, remittance by the states for both employer and employee pension contributions takes a chief position because it goes a long way to not only ensure the payment of pensions, but also ensure that the contributors get dividends on their contributions.

These dividends, according to the Commission, can go as high as 150 per cent depending on the timely and accurate remittance of pension contributions by the states.

According to the Head of Corporate Communications at PenCom, Mr. Peter Aghahowa: “The Nigerian worker is very concerned about the timely and complete remittance of his or her pension contributions.

“Also, if a pension scheme fails to deliver on its promises of a safe and secured retirement future for pensioners, ultimately, it is the retirees that will bear the brunt. Hence, there is interest in the complete and timely remittance of their pension contributions.”

In carrying out this report, focus was on remittances – the number of states that are making complete remittances of both employer and employee contributions.

According to the report from PenCom, states that are remitting both workers and employer contribution up to date are Lagos, Kaduna, Edo, and FCT.

Ekiti State has remitted employer and employee pension contributions up till January this year.

Some states are however not under the CPS, but are operating other pension schemes like the Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS) and Contributory Defined Benefit Scheme (CDBS). These states are – Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, and Yobe.

States such as Kebbi, Zamfara, Delta, and Rivers are remitting only employees portion of the contribution and some even have huge backlog of unremitted employer pension contributions.

States such as Katsina, Sokoto, Benue, Adamawa, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Plateau, Ogun, Oyo, Abia, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, and Cross River have not remitted any amount for both employer and employee pension contributions.

Yobe State has done fairly well with DBS. They pay their pensioners as they retire; they don’t have huge arrears.

States such as Ondo, Osun, and Anambra are remitting contributions haphazardly, while Niger State stopped remittances since 2015 and is yet to resume.

It was also gathered that although, there are laws dovetailing from the federal laws which say remittances should be made within seven days of payment of salary; if that is  applied, compliance level by states may be zero.

However, the travesty of the real situation will be to focus on states that have enacted laws for the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), which at the moment stands at 24 states. This does not do justice to undressing the real situation of the scheme in the country.

The commission further explained that constitutionally, PenCom has no power to dictate the scheme that a state runs; it can only recognise their scheme and guide them accordingly.

“We will continue to engage states that are yet to key into the CPS on different levels; from the highest level in the state; the engagement is collaborative, labour is also involved.

“However, the implementation of the scheme in each state depends on the law the state has passed; once a state assembly has passed their pension law, we as a Commission are only going to supervise and guide them based on the law that has been passed,” he said.

 

 CDBS: old wine in new skin?

According to the quarterly report from PenCom, 15 states have made progress in the implementation of the scheme, eight have sent bills for its enactment.

However, following the CPS is the introduction of the Contributory Defined Benefit Scheme (CDBS) by some states – five states, namely, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, and Gombe. Two states still operate the DBS. They are Adamawa and Yobe states.

A lot of Nigerians are aware of the embattled Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS) and how it operates, however, the novel scheme – CDBS, seems to have a lot of grey areas that industry experts and stakeholders are yet to fully understand.

Although more researches are being carried out into it, it seems to work in a similar fashion as the DBS does, maybe save for the addendum of the contributory to the DBS, and the fact that they make some contributions.

There are events to prove the sorry and pitiable state that the DBS put many  Nigerian pensioners and their families.

Still, some states seem not to take the exercise serious. The big question will now be – If you say you are running a DBS, are you running it well?

From findings, in the DBS, one doesn’t need to go to school to supervise it. But some of the new schemes that are coming up now like the Contributory Defined Benefit Scheme (CDBS), need to be properly understood and studied. Hence, states need to be weary in quickly embracing and latching upon it.

Information from the apex pension regulator revealed that it is currently studying the scheme and working out a framework for the CDBS because some states are already doing it. This the Commission intends to undertake in order to better supervise and regulate that type of scheme.

There are always exceptions to every rule, as Jigawa State seems to be doing well (100 per cent) with the CDBS and works closely with the PenCom for support and technical advice.

Information from the Commission revealed that the state for instance, has been successful in operating the CDBS and it works 100 per cent closely with the state, even though the scheme is new to both the state and the Commission.

 

Worry over rate determination

One topic that continues to raise a groundswell of debate among stakeholders in the pension sector is whether or not the percentage contribution benchmark for the CPS or any other pension scheme is scientifically determined.

How do you know that 18 per cent will suffice to guarantee a pleasant retirement for the Nigerian worker?

Investigation revealed that there is a big question mark on the CPS and CDBS in terms of the proportion of contribution because it is largely not scientifically determined.

That is why some people are complaining that their benefits under CPS are not comparable to DBS.

The simple reason is because the 7.5/7.5per cent  decided in 2004 was not a science. What makes anybody think that 7.5 per cent  was enough contribution that people will retire and be happy about?

No wonder in 2014 it was jacked up to 1 per cent . Even the 18 per cent, what is the science behind it?

The apex regulatory body for pension in Nigeria and other stakeholders seriously need to have this very important conversation for the collective good of the people.

It is the same extension to CDBS. You determine a rate of contribution, and it wasn’t scientifically determined; there was no actuarial valuation at the point that decision was taken. So, you cannot say whether or not that 20 per cent or 25 per cent that is put in that pool and is being managed, whether it can guarantee the payments that are embedded in a DBS.

Because in a DBS the payments are straight forward. What gives you the comfort that the contributions that are being made in those proportions can pay these people out when the time comes?

There is a risk imbedded in the CDBS that one day people will retire and there will be no money to pay them because the contributions that are being made now are based on per head contributions of workers.

If anything that is happening in the country is anything to go by, take a case like Kaduna State, its workforce between 2016 and 2018 have dropped by close to 40 percent because at one time in 2017, the governor decided to retire everybody that has two years to go; all people that are 33 years in service, and those that were 58 years old were sent on forceful retirement.

Meanwhile, if Kaduna were doing CDBS the total pool of contributions was based on per head of workers contribution, the number has dropped. This means that the amount that will aggregate in the pool will drop. So, a day will come that somebody will retire and there is no kobo to pay him or her, because the number of workers that are contributing to it has dropped. This is a risk that the system runs.

You don’t need science to know the likely implication of running a scheme like the CDBS – a rate of contribution that is not scientifically determined, and some of the inner workings of that scheme, the scheme runs itself, meaning the cost of running that scheme is borne by the scheme.

Unless that is checked, there are tendencies that  the cost of running the scheme will increase significantly in years ahead.

A time may come when the returns made from the investments of that scheme are all taken up by the operating cost. It may mean that the N1 you put in today remains N1 for the next five years. That is a diminution of the scheme.

This is not an outright condemnation of the scheme, but a sign of caution on the need for both the PenCom and states doing it to study it well before rubber stamping it.

The CDBS can never be the same with the CPS because of the differences in its structures, framework, processes, and workings.

Therefore, states that are doing CDBS cannot be regarded as compliant states because they are introducing other pension schemes aside the CPS.

Also, some states that are committed to DBS are doing well. Yobe State for example has done fairly well with DBS. They pay their pensioners as they retire; they don’t have huge arrears.

The pension stratosphere changed from DBS to CPS because it wasn’t working, but if Yobe is working, our only prayer is that it is not person-dependent.

If it works well because of the governor there today, when he is no longer there, they will be like any other state and that leads to the challenges that DBS had; they will start to be experiencing it.

Aghahowa said: “The Commission is mandated to supervise all pension schemes, so, whatever you call your pension scheme, if you pass it and drag the commission into it, how do you drag the commission – see what we are doing. If you offer your law to our Commission to review it, then you have brought yourself to our court.

“Constitutionally, we have no right to say you must put in A,B,C,D, because constitutionally you have the powers to design your pension scheme the way it suits you, but what we do, is that our parameter for compliance are what helps us select our babies.

 

“If you say you are running a contributory pension scheme, we expect to find all the nine parameters (characteristics); if we don’t find those parameters, yes you are running a pension scheme but we won’t call it contributory.

“We have model state laws for contributory pension scheme; we expect you to adopt the major ingredient of that law in your law, and those major ingredients include many or all of those parameters that we have there.

“If you have a law and invite us to take a look at it, we will do. You may tell us you want to continue with define benefits scheme, but look at it, it is fine we will take a look.

“We want to expect that when people retire, you pay them their benefits based on the dictates of the scheme you run; how much of their gratuity do you pay, do you pay on time, or as the practice is all over the country.”

 

Impact of haphazard remittances 

Aghahowa said the effect of haphazard remittances by states on the Commission is tertiary, the primary effect is that it is affecting the contributor directly.

“It is not good enough for you to tell me ‘don’t worry we will pay’, that is not the way this scheme is designed to work; it is designed to work in a manner that seven days after you pay salaries, you remit complete pension contributions (employer/employee).

“Once remittances by states are done in a timely and complete manner, the workers in turn will reap very good dividends and returns on their investments.

‘’It is obvious then that the labour force in the states will either benefit from or suffer the consequences of partial remittances.

‘’On the larger economic scale, it also means we are not having so much funds coming into the system; because the more funds you have coming into the system, the more funds you have to invest in infrastructure, and other things that can help economic growth in different ways,” he said.

Therefore, not funding the RSA affects both the retirees and the economy of the country.

According to findings, between 2011 and 2017, a number of PFAs returned 100 per cent double of what was given to them in 2011.

‘’We also found out that, as at February this year, the amount of uncredited contributions from Akure was over N1.2billion (that is, funds still hanging somewhere). Port Harcourt figure for December 2018 was N1.4billion. When the Commission raised the issue, few states appeared to have done some reconciliations and there was a token reduction.

‘’More states and PFAs have started to take the matter seriously now,” PenCom said.

The President, Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria, Mrs. Aderonke Adedeji spoke on the issue, saying that the “non remittance and, or irregular remittance has several implications. The most important and of greatest concern is the impact on contributors as they run the risk of lower than expected pension at retirement.”

She explained that the this shortfall in funding means the PFAs cannot invest such funds, thus denying the contributors  income on their RSA. “The income element of an RSA is a critical part of the funds that make up the pension at retirement. Consequen, the country’s objective of eliminating old age poverty becomes challenging,” she said.

Mrs. Adedeji listed other implications of delayed, or non-remittances as the slower growth in the nations pool of long term funds which is necessary to drive economic development, saying Pension funds, if given the right legislative and executive government support, as well as an effective regulatory environment, have the potential to transform the economy.

She said the impact of pension funds on nation building is evidenced in many countries. In South Africa, she said, the pension assets are almost the same size as the GDP, whereas in Namibia, it is over 80 per cent as against Nigeria where it is estimated at on a paltry seven per cent.

Granted that the pension scheme in Nigeria is relatively younger, the fact remains that we still have a long way to go, she said, adding though that there is room for improvement in the funding.

Source: thenationonlineng

This Chinese Megacity is Building a Giant Waste-To-Energy Plant

The architects of what is set to be the world’s largest waste-to-energy plant describe their creation as simple, clean and iconic. It’s a mammoth structure which sits on the outskirts of the city of Shenzhen in southern China and once operational will process up to 5,000 tonnes of waste each day.

With a population of 20 million people, the city produces a lot of waste: about 15,000 tonnes daily according to SHL Architects, which will be used by the plant to generate electricity.

What’s the World Economic Forum doing about the transition to clean energy?

Part of the attraction of waste-to-energy technology is that it’s a dual-purpose solution – it rids urban areas of their growing waste problem, while generating electricity as a byproduct.

But the Shenzhen plant and has met with opposition from local residents and environmental groups who fear it will emit dangerous levels of dioxins and other toxins.

How does waste-to-energy work?

The process captures heat from incinerating unwanted waste materials, which drives a turbine to generate electricity. Burning waste releases harmful CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, but according to the architects, at half the level of an average landfill site – where much of Shenzhen’s waste ends up.

China has the largest installed waste-to-energy capacity of any country, with more than 300 plants in operation. This capacity has increased annually by 26% over the past five years, compared with just 4% average growth in capacity in OECD countries.

Interest in waste-to-energy technologies is growing, with the global market estimated to be worth $40 billion by 2023, according to the World Energy Council.

The world’s population will reach 9.8 billion by 2050, according to UN predictions, with 68% of those people living in cities, making solutions that remove urban waste and produce energy attractive to investors.

Wasted energy

China generates more waste than any other country, according to World Bank figures. But countries and cities around the globe face similar challenges.

Once constructed, Shenzhen’s new plant will combust roughly a third of the city’s daily domestic waste. It will also generate some renewable energy via 40,000 square metres of solar panels on its roof.

While the new plant offers an alternative to the city’s overloaded landfill sites and makeshift waste dumps, its green credentials have been called into question. A residents’ group which fears that landfill waste ash and airborne pollutants from the incinerator will end up in a nearby reservoir has launched a legal challenge to force the site to be relocated to a less densely populated area.

Other proposed waste-to-energy projects around China – Hubei, Hunan, Guangdong, Shandong, Hainan, Jiangxi, and Zhejiang provinces – have also been met with protests.

And while such waste-to-energy projects provide a temporary solution to China’s growing trash problem, it is not a long-term fix. The Shenzhen plant has capacity to cope with about a third of the waste currently produced by the city, but the amount of waste is increasing by 7% a year.

A sustainable future lies in changing behaviour to reduce the amount of waste produced, and working towards a circular economy, where discarded items are increasingly reused and recycled.

Source: weforum

The South African Land Debate Is A Reflection Of A Failed And Confused Nation

Source: africanexponent

How Community Land Trusts Can Help Address the Affordable Housing Crisis

The United States is in the middle of a massive housing crisis. Community land trusts can help address it.

Over the past fifty years, cycles of disinvestment and aggressive reinvestment in urban real estate markets, stagnating wages, and neoliberal shifts in federal housing policy have created a complex housing system that is fueled by debt and fails to serve a large swath of the population. Housing advocates continually struggle with logistical questions about the longevity and depth of affordability in affordable housing and structural questions about the roles of the market and the state in the provision of housing.

It is difficult to pin down the functional definition of what a house is in America: shelter, sanctuary, a societal building block, a wealth building mechanism, and/or a commodity. What is clear, from high rent burdens, widespread evictions, and growing homelessness, is that existing tools are not working.

Over the past few years, the community land trust (CLT) model has been increasingly promoted as a solution by affordable housing advocates of many kinds, from anti-gentrification and tenants advocates to traditional community development organizations to large philanthropic institutions like the Ford Foundation and the Federal Reserve. The CLT model is highly flexible, and has huge potential for addressing the affordable housing crisis in America today.

What Is a CLT?

At its core, a CLT is an entity organized to maintain the ownership of land for a specific, community-oriented purpose, forever. It is designed to be a nontraditional form of property ownership, where the ownership of land is separated from the ownership of property.

The relationship between the entity that owns the land and the entity that builds and operates the buildings that are on the land are defined by what’s called a “ground lease.” In the United States, ground leases are most commonly used in the development of commercial real estate. They give the developer of a building strong control over what happens to a property for a long period of time (for as long as ninety-nine years), while allowing the land owner to retain the rights to the land itself. In real estate terms, a ground lease allows a developer to substantially lower their front-end costs by avoiding paying for land.

In Marxist terms, a ground lease creates a legally acceptable framework for separating the use value (in this case, the use of a building to actually house someone) of a property from its commodity value (the building’s generation of profits for a seller or landlord), creating a pathway for its decommodification. A CLT takes the ground lease model and injects a social mission: the entity that owns the land holds it in trust for a designated use — like the provision of below-market rate housing or the protection of green space — in perpetuity.

Governance and Participation

To formalize and define “community,” CLTs often incorporate a unique governance structure, where the entity that owns the land is overseen by a board that includes some combination of people who live/use the buildings on CLT land: the surrounding “community” and representative “experts” and/or members of the public.

Ideally, a CLT ownership structure both puts into practice ideas about collective ownership of urban land and diffuses power between people who directly benefit from the CLT and the broader community indirectly impacted by the CLT. Or, as Howard Brandstein, who helped incorporate a CLT on New York City’s Lower East Side in the 1980s, put it, “the land trust was a means for neighborhood residents to withstand the challenge of market forces entering the Lower East Side by bridging the separation between ownership as an expression of self-interest, on the one hand, and community empowerment on the other.”

In practice, the levels of resident-driven control among CLTs, and the extent to which residents are ideologically committed to decommodifying housing, vary greatly. Some CLTs, especially those rising out of neighborhood-based struggles, explicitly incorporate horizontal governance, consensus-based decision making. Others are centrally driven and only nominally incorporate residents into the decision making process.

Pitfalls of Model Flexibility Permanent Stewardship

Part of the CLT model’s strength is its flexibility — there is not a hard definition of what a CLT should look like exactly, beyond a ground lease driven relationship between an entity that holds land in trust for a common good and the people who use the land.

The sale of buildings on CLT land is governed by a resale formula outlined in the renewable, usually ninety-nine-year, ground lease, which gives the CLT the first right of purchase, allowing it to control the value of the properties themselves and to enforce affordability restrictions and income targeting. Organizers of the CLT can tailor the ownership structure within the buildings, income-targeting, service provision, and rent restrictions to local needs.

Buildings on CLT-owned land may include owner-occupied single-family homes, rental buildings, self-managed cooperatives (limited equity and otherwise) or mutual housing associations, commercial, manufacturing, and office spaces, farms, and/or green spaces. This gives the organizers of a CLTs wide latitude to solve local problems, whether they are racist segregation, environmental preservation, or displacement as a result of gentrification.

This flexibility, mixed with the responsibility of permanent stewardship, creates the possibility for both co-optation and mission slippage, especially as CLTs engage in real estate development to achieve community-driven goals. Dana Hawkins-Simons and Miriam Axel-Lute point to a common criticism of all community developers: “ . . .  reliance on accessing public affordable housing funds has turned community developers away from their civil rights roots and muted their voices on controversial issues in their neighborhoods and cities.”

And because CLTs (even those that are resident-controlled), exist outside the public sphere, they do not operate under a clearly stated public mandate. Given the long timeline (forever!) of CLT stewardship responsibilities, the danger of eventual loss of community-orientation, especially as the CLT undertakes development, is there.

 

CLT Landscape Today

Despite a strong association with affordable urban housing, community land trusts in the United States begun as a rural experiment in securing land rights for African-American farmers. New Communities, Inc. (NCI) was organized by veterans of the Albany Movement, the first mass organizing effort in the 1960s to fully desegregate a Southern city.

After witnessing evictions and job losses as repercussion for anti-segregation organizing, movement organizers like Charles Sherrod of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) — who would later become president of New Communities — came to believe that “the only way African Americans in the Deep South would ever have the independence and security to stand up for their rights — and not be punished for doing so — was to own the land themselves.” Incorporated in the late 1960s, New Communities purchased five-thousand acres, to be held in trust, and developed a ground lease system, which allowed for both individual homesteads organized in two residential communities and cooperative farms.

Like many urban CLTs that came later, NCI was a culmination of long term organizing against a spatially-enforced system of disenfranchisement. Since the denial of property rights has been one of the key methods for reinforcing white supremacy in the United States, civil rights organizers developed a model that centered around claiming power through land that also went beyond the traditionally American system of individual ownership.

CLTs in Disinvested Markets

The rural CLT model made its way to urban areas in the United States in the 1980s, proving to be a good fit for a disinvested post-fiscal crisis landscape. Many formally redlined neighborhoods in American cities were awash with public, tax foreclosed properties and sites of intensive local organizing.

In some cases, like the CLTs that emerged on the Lower East Side, organizers were noticing early signs of gentrification and land speculation, which resulted in the loss of affordable housing — a problem that the CLT structure could help address. In others, like the Sawmill CLT in Albuquerque, the focus was on environmental justice, with a CLT as a culmination of a broader effort among residents to address a public health issues in their neighborhood.

Frances Goldin speaks at a protest on 2nd Avenue in the Lower East Side in New York, circa 1960s. She was a founding member of the Cooper Square Committee.

These CLTs were often organized alongside other neighborhood stabilizing efforts, from community development corporations to homesteading and squatting efforts. In an extensive study of CLTs and Mutual Housing Associations, John Krinsky and Sarah Hovde wrote that CLTs were perceived to be able to resolve problems and conflicts inherent in the co-op model on the one hand, and the nonprofit rental model on the other.” Unlike other affordable housing efforts during this era, CLT organizers often took a longer, less market-oriented view.

For example, affordable rental housing developed with low income housing tax credits by community development corporations before 1980s had fifteen-year affordability agreements, while CLTs created a framework for perpetual affordability. But most disinvested cities pursued strategies that returned public land to the private market as quickly as possible, making CLTs minor players in the urban redevelopment process.

A market-based logic still dominates in disinvested communities today. Cities devastated by a racially and economically motivated policy and private lending practices — from redlining to subprime mortgages — search for ways to attract investment, often by giving away land. Today, unlike the 1980s, there has been a rising reliance on land banks in cities like Detroit, as opposed to tax foreclosure auctions which are rigged heavily toward developers, to more thoughtfully channel the redistribution of public land. But most continue to focus on transferring land to professional developers or promoting homeownership with time-limited affordability requirements. Similarly, many CLTs today orient their language and marketing around affordable homeownership and foreclosure prevention, rather than broad land reform.

At the same time, local interest in CLTs as a tool to address broader land-based social justice issues remains. For example, the Detroit People’s Platform — a broad coalition of social justice organizations, activists, and residents that emerged after the city’s bankruptcy — sees CLTs as “a potential alternative to profit-driven development and a means to resist the continued movement of public-owned commons into the private sector.” And organizers and residents are increasingly seeing CLTs as a way to engage in participatory neighborhood planning in disinvested neighborhoods: the model is suited for this role because CLTs are geographically targeted and could operate on a multi-block scale.

This was the model employed by Dudley Neighbors, Incorporated (DNI) in Boston, which led to a CLT with “225 new affordable homes, a 10,000 square foot community greenhouse, urban farm, a playground, gardens, and other amenities of a thriving urban village.” T.R.U.S.T. South LA is undertaking a similar larger scale planning effort in Los Angeles.

The model creates a framework for residents to understand and challenge neighborhood market forces that often stay hidden. For example, the New Columbia Community Land Trust in Washington, DC, helped residents faced with displacement ask why the value of public amenities, like a subway, should accrue to private real estate owners at the expense of low- and moderate-income tenants.”

CLTs in Expensive Markets

Most recently, CLTs have begun to gain traction as an affordability preservation tool in expensive land markets. Older land trusts like Cooper Square CLT on the Lower East Side and DNI have seen the neighborhoods around them transform as aggressive reinvestment has driven up rents and displaced long term tenants. In Seattle, San Francisco, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and other cities, both grassroots organizations and established CDCs have looked to CLTs as an anti-gentrification tool.

Disinvestment and aggressive reinvestment are part of the same problem faced by urban neighborhoods, especially in neighborhoods of color. While existing CLTs do soften the impact of this cycle, groups starting new CLTs in gentrifying neighborhoods often find it difficult to overcome the main problem they are trying to address: skyrocketing land costs as a result of speculation. In a 2015 Next City article, Jake Blumgart wrote:

In Seattle, it took Homestead Community Land Trust ten years to bring its first house into its portfolio and twenty-two years after its founding, the trust has not been able to obtain land on the cheap from the city. Though the trust was founded in 1992 to preserve affordable housing in the Central District, once Seattle’s premiere African-American neighborhood, today only six of their 191 homes are located in the neighborhood because of the high cost of land there.

In high cost land markets, CLTs — like the Chinatown Community Land Trust in Boston — are generally unable to compete with private capital in the open market. And even as aggressive investment displaces residents, cities often continue to pursue market-oriented strategies for public land.

For example, in New York City — with the hyper financialization of affordable housing development  has resulted in predatory equity driven tenant displacement in neighborhoods where the city could not give land fast enough in the 1980s — nonprofit affordable housing developers overall have long complained of being sidelined in favor of profit-oriented developers. While New York City is not awash with tax foreclosed property, the city continues to include public land in packages for income-targeted housing development.

Local CLT-oriented efforts, including an alternative plan for a city-owned armory in Crown Heights, Brooklyn and a redevelopment of a public library in Inwood, Manhattan face uphill battles — “the thresholds for the experience and financial heft bidders must bring to the table” are out of reach for sophisticated and well-established CDCs, much less a new grassroots group formed to address a local neighborhood needs.

Implementation and Scaling

Obstacles to land acquisition and municipal polices that rely on market-based solutions have limited the impact of CLTs on American cities. Even though there are approximately 280 CLTs in the United States today, many have not secured land to steward. CLTs face many of the same obstacles as smaller community-oriented developers. Development is expensive, and hard to do without strong municipal support.

The CLT with the largest influence on the housing market where it’s located is The Champlain Housing Trust, controlling 7.6 percent of the Burlington’s housing stock. When it launched in 1984, the land trust received substantial support from then-mayor Bernie Sanders, including a $200,000 seed grant, a pension fund loan, and, importantly for its longevity, ongoing funding through the Burlington Housing Trust Fund funded by a small property tax increase. The land trust also received funding from a local bank (likely, to meet its Community Reinvestment Act requirements) and HUD.

To gain municipal support, CLT organizers need to engage in policy advocacy, in tandem with intersecting housing movements, including both policies that are immediately beneficial for CLT development and broadly beneficial for low-income people: housing trust funds that provide ongoing rental assistance to low-income tenants, tax breaks for permanent low-rent housing, rent regulation, anti-eviction programs, and increased support for public housing. The New York City Community Land Initiative in New York City, for example, was initiated by multiple local organizations, including Picture the Homeless, a homeless-led organization that advocates for better homelessness resource spending.

More broadly, CLTs — along with other forms of housing that minimize speculation, including rent control and public housing — should be viewed as one of the means for creating a less exploitative housing system in the United States. As argued by David Madden and Peter Marcuse in In Defense of Housing, urban real estate are central drivers of the market. Models that help to de-commodify housing can be transformative, if applied together.

At the same time, Robert Swann, who helped launch New Communities, Inc. and the Institute for Community Economics, cautioned against a “housing only” focus among CLT organizers, positioning the model as a broader means for reducing speculative profit through land reform. CLTs should also seek partnerships within the growing “solidarity economy” sector to achieve scale.

Evan Casper-Futterman wrote about two umbrella organizations the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance (PACA) and the Cooperative Economics Alliance of New York City (CEANYC), which “aim to unite worker cooperatives and housing cooperatives and their sectoral networks with food cooperatives and other consumer and financial cooperatives such as local cooperative investment funds, community development credit unions and community-based organizations working on issues of labor, immigrant, racial, and economic (in)justice.”

Of the CLTs that have the strongest internal cohesion are those that have developed mechanisms for continual resident participation and are responsive to changes within the organization as it ages. CLTs that are born out of local organizing are likely to experience a level of internal tension, especially if the organization directly undertakes new housing development. Harry Smith, director of Dudley Neighbors, Inc. described the CLT’s foray into development as traumatic, because “it took so much time. It distracted DSNI from its core functions. It’s important to be explicit: If you do development work, it will take away time from organizing.” Some CLTs do not undertake development work directly for this reason.

Even if a CLT is not rapidly expanding, there is always a continuing need for ongoing education, engagement, and organizing, especially as the first generation of residents ages out. In their review of twenty CLTs in the 1990s, Krinsky and Hovde found that the presence of organizers on staff helped drive resident participation. Organizing and engagement — not just of residents but of the community as whole (however it is defined by the CLT), including prospective residents — is necessary to avoid the CLT becoming a back door entry to privatization, especially in instances where public land is involved. Further, an enforceable and iron clad legal framework is equally necessary, for the same reason.

Today, as during the Civil Rights era in the late 1960s or neighborhood based organizing in the 1980s, CLTs continue to reappear in movement contexts. The Movement for Black Lives calls for a coordinated review of “ . . .  tax credits, insurance systems and budgets concerning various elements of development (e.g., housing, schools, community, highways, etc.) and align around the goal of fair development with an emphasis on community land trusts, cooperatives, and community control.”

Similarly, community land trusts are often a feature of “radical municipalist” movements, most prominently in the United States as part of Cooperation Jackson, an effort to organize and empower “the structurally under and unemployed sectors of the working class, particularly from black and Latino communities, to build worker organized and owned cooperatives will be a catalyst for the democratization of our economy and society overall.” CLTs are not a silver bullet. But they provide a framework for organizing efforts to reimagine their neighborhoods and cities as more than just places.

Source: jacobinmag

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

For a century and a half, women have been proving their passion and talent for design and architecture in a male dominated profession. It is a paradox that even in the 21st century, architecture can still be a challenging career path for women, and gender inequality continues to be a cause of concern.

However, there are female architects who are challenging every day the profession’s boys’ club and have made a profound impact on architecture as we know it today. The list, of course, is short and many important names may be left out, but here 10 of them you should know.

Lina Bo Bardi

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Lina Bo Bardi

Dona Lina dedicated her work to a mission: to explore the social possibilities of design and promote a new way of collective life. She searched for strong design concepts and relied on a simple formal vocabulary, but with a parallel expressive use of materials that highlighted her sensibility. For her, architecture should be considered “not as built work, but as possible means to be and to face different situations”.  In April 1989, at age 74, the architect was honored with the first exhibition of her work, from the same university that denied her a permanent teaching position 30 years earlier: Universidade de São Paolo.

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

SESC Pompeia Leisure Center, São Paulo, 1977–86, Theater Foyer. Photo: Zeuler R. Lima

One of her most emblematic buildings is the SESC Pompeia, realized in 1982, in Sao Paolo, Brazil. It is a converted factory, with three huge concrete towers, featuring aerial walkways and asymmetrical portholes in the place of windows. With its radical design and the almost brutal approach of the industrial cell, Bo Bardi brought to life her vision for the world, what she called a “socialist experiment”.

Maya Lin

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Maya Lin

Maya Lin is an architect, sculptor, and land artist. With nearly 30 years of practice, she has completed a series of projects including large scale art installations, residential and institutional architecture and memorials. Her work is emphasized on nature and sustainability followed by minimal design and her ideal of making a place for individuals within the landscape. She draws inspiration for her sculpture and architecture from culturally diverse sources, including Japanese gardens, Hopewell Indian earthen mounds, and works by American earthworks artists of the 60s and 70s.

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Courtesy of Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund

At age 21, she became the youngest architect and first woman, to design a memorial on the National Mall. Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a two-acre plot framed by a wall, displaying the names of all the American soldiers lost in conflict. Her design was considered controversial and insulting, “a black scar” as a Vietnam veteran described it, and after many delays, it was finally built in 1982. Today it is recognized as the definition of a modern approach to war, with its minimal, unsentimental and clear-eyed concept.

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10 Captivating Opera House Interiors from Around the World

Odile Decq

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Odile Decq

Odile Decq is a French architect and academic who was awarded the 2016 Jane Drew Prize for being “a creative powerhouse, spirited breaker of rules and advocate for equality.” She is the director of the Paris firm, Studio Odile Decq with projects from art galleries and museums to social housing and infrastructure. The French Goth as she is often called, made a radical entrance to the scenery of architecture, introducing a new high-tech language spiced up with the deep red color she uses in most of her buildings.

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

The Opera Garnier Restaurant. Photo: Roland Halbe

Her project Phantom Restaurant in Paris is a study in colliding temporalities. With red and white biomorphic forms she experiments with surfaces that bend and undulate. A red carpet flows down the steps of the main staircase dramatically, running under the tables until it arrives at the edge of the glass facade. The concept of this design was to create a temporary removable space that respects the existing monument, the Opera Garnier.

Amale Andraos

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Amale Andraos. Photo: Raymond Adams

Amale Andraos is Dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP) and co-founder of WORKac, a New York-based architectural and urban practice with international reach. WORKac is focused on re-imagining architecture at the intersection of the urban, the rural and the natural. Embracing reinvention and collaboration with other fields, they imagine alternate scenarios for the future of cities. Andraos is committed to research and publications. Her work has recently explored the question of representation by re-examining the concept of the ‘Arab City.’

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Smart School, Irkutsk. Courtesy of Workac

In the project Smart School, the WORKac explore the possibility of a unique community dedicated to a new concept of education by intertwining landscape and program. The park generates food for the community and recycles its waste. As the children’s relationship with learning changes, their relationship with landscape also changes. The project creates a series of diverse experiences, combining architecture and landscape, public and private spaces focusing on a sustainable energy strategy.

Momoyo Kaijima

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Momoyo Kaijima

Momoyo Kaijima is the co-found of the Tokyo-based architecture office Atelier Bow-Wow, one of Japan’s leading firms. The firm is well known for its domestic and cultural architecture and its research exploring the urban conditions of micro, ad hoc architecture. With her partner Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, they have been experimenting with design theories that introduce a new vocabulary to the urban studies and new concepts for the public space, such as architectural behaviorology and micro-public-space. Their projects range from houses to public and commercial buildings and public artworks, in Japan as well as in Europe and the USA.

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Split Machiya, Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Manuel Oka

Split Machiya is a private house they created in Tokyo for a couple and a single woman, which is composed of two mirrored structures connected with a central courtyard. They were influenced by the aesthetics of the Machiya, a traditional Japanese building type from the Edo period, and used their minimal approach to creating a fully functioning house in very limited space.

Sharon Davis

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Sharon Davis

Founder and principal of Sharon Davis Design, she is an award-winning practitioner whose work is driven by her belief in the transformative power of design. She believes that the success of the designs are measured by the degree to which they expand access to the fundamental human right to social justice, economic empowerment and a healthy sustainable environment. Her vision of architecture is buildings that can alter the future of communities.

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Women’s Opportunity Center, Rwanda. Photo: Elizabeth Felicella

Her philosophy on social design came to life with her project Women’s Opportunity Center in Rwanda. The purpose was to create a forward-thinking educational and community center in Kayonza to train and educate local women through farming. The main idea was to use the form of a vernacular Rwandan village as the organizing principle: a series of human-scaled pavilions clustered to create security and community for up to 300 women. The project also includes a demonstration farm that helps women produce and market their own goods.

Neri Oxman

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Neri Oxman

Neri Oxman is an American-Israeli designer, architect, artist, and founder of the Mediated Matter group at MIT’s Media Lab. Her work embodies environmental design and digital morphogenesis, with shapes and properties that are determined by their context. She coined the phrase “material ecology” to define her work, applying findings from biology and computer science to architecture, using 3D printing and fabrication techniques. Oxman sees the world and environment as organisms, changing regularly and responding to use, that’s why she is mostly inspired by biological shapes and textures.

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Silk Pavillion. Courtesy of Mediated Matter Group

In her project Silk Pavillion, she explores ways of overcoming the existing limitations of additive manufacturing at architectural scales. She used a robotic arm to imitate the way a silkworm deposits silk to build its cocoon, creating 26 silk panels that formed a dome suspended from the ceiling

Shahira Fahmy

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Shahira Fahmy

Fahmy is an architect whose work strives to make a balance between new spatial concepts and existing context: culture, tradition, urban morphology. The Cairo-based architect is leading the way for Egyptian architecture by demonstrating that architectural design can and should elevate the public realm, with a holistic approach that combines contextual analysis, playful experimentation, and an ethos of social responsibility.

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Block 36, Cairo. Courtesy of Shahira H. Fahmy Architects

Block 36 is a block of residential apartments inspired by the patterns and forms of urbanized agricultural plots. Security and the separation between public and private areas are important social and cultural issues that have been taken into consideration for the layout of gates and boundaries.

Amanda Levete

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Amanda Levete. Courtesy of Peter Guenzel

Amanda Levete is a RIBA Stirling Prize winning architect, founder, and principal of AL_A, an international award-winning design and architecture studio. AL_A’s approach to design balances the intuitive with the strategic, restless research, innovation, collaboration and attention to detail. They explore constantly the application of new materials and techniques on architecture and design and look for new ways to create significant and positive impact beyond the building, on the community and city context.

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

EDP Cultural Centre, Lisbon. Courtesy of AL_A

The EDP Foundation’s Museum of Art, Architecture & Technology in Lisbon, explores the convergence of architecture, technology and contemporary art as a field of cultural practice. It is a building for the people of Lisbon, for cultural visitors and for tourists that defy distinction between public space and building. The building itself is reimagined as a landscape for encounters between people, between visitors and ideas, and between the city and its citizens.

Kazuyo Sejima

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

Kazuyo Sejima. Photo: Giorgio Zucchiatti. Courtesy La Biennale di Venezia

Sejima, a partner in the architecture practice SANAA, is known for designs with clean modernist elements such as slick, clean, and shiny surfaces made of glass, marble, and metals. She is concerned with exploring the cognitive possibilities of architecture, how the built work can impact the way in which we know our world and ourselves and the processes by which knowledge and understanding are acquired through experience. She also develops a particular interest in exploring the relationship between the inside and outside.

Women In Architecture : 10 Successful Female Architects You Should Know

New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York. Photo: Iwan Baan

In her design for the New Museum of Contemporary Art, she uses a  quite minimal scheme: a series of stacked cubes in an offset arrangement that gives to the building dynamicity and an attracting shape, being different but similar to the near constructions.

Source: arch2o

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