Taghousing

Slate: How cities should deal with squatters

On the supply side, local governments should penalize owners who stockpile vacant housing, perhaps by imposing increased property tax rates on properties left vacant, and by moving aggressively to seize vacant properties when the owners fall behind on paying those taxes. On the demand side, governments should expand homesteading programs that permit and help low-income people to take over vacant housing—but only after it finds its way into city hands.

To be sure, these programs were only marginally successful in the 1970s, in part because of lack of funding, but also because of the difficulty of restoring abandoned urban properties to habitable condition. The housing that is becoming vacant during the current downturn, by contrast, is relatively new and should be easier for homesteaders to repair. The federal government should also move quickly to protect those in financial trouble from foreclosure and eviction by requiring foreclosing banks (many of which are themselves receiving taxpayer bailouts) to rent out foreclosed homes to their former owners at fair market value. In fact, as this letter to the editor in the New York Times Magazine on Sunday correctly observed, allowing owners to remain as renters in their foreclosed homes helps safeguard the value of the houses—which is good for the occupants, good for the banks, and good for the housing market as a whole.

The sudden increase in squatting shows that the housing market that is out of kilter. The solution is not to chase squatters off, but to bring the market back into balance by helping them find a place to call home.

Full Story: Slate

(via The Agitator)

Youth designs simple, insulated geodesic dome made of garbage

Max’s original idea was developed as a scale model with the materials he had on hand. Plastic grocery bags from the kitchen cabinet and coat hangers from his closet were the trash that came together to make a structure influenced by the building styles of Mongolian yurts. Working with the crew from Continuum, he was able to use and develop techniques to build a full size model of his dome. The resulting dome is based on the work of R. Buckminster Fuller and his geodesic dome, but they came up with a relatively new technique of making each panel a cell, rather than using the often used hub and spoke design. For the sheathing material, they used thick plastic sealed at the edges with a heat strip. The center of the panels is filled with packing peanuts, making for a very well insulated structure.Max’s original idea was developed as a scale model with the materials he had on hand. Plastic grocery bags from the kitchen cabinet and coat hangers from his closet were the trash that came together to make a structure influenced by the building styles of Mongolian yurts. Working with the crew from Continuum, he was able to use and develop techniques to build a full size model of his dome. The resulting dome is based on the work of R. Buckminster Fuller and his geodesic dome, but they came up with a relatively new technique of making each panel a cell, rather than using the often used hub and spoke design. For the sheathing material, they used thick plastic sealed at the edges with a heat strip. The center of the panels is filled with packing peanuts, making for a very well insulated structure.

Full Story: MAKE

(via OVO)

Turning Shipping Containers Into Customizable, Affordable Housing

shipping container house

We recently started following the development of a cool new project taking root at Clemson University in South Carolina. Architecture faculty Martha Skinner and Doug Hecker and Landscape Architecture faculty Pernille Christensen are working with their students to design livable, sustainable dwellings using the large shipping containers sent to Caribbean nations.

According to assistant professor Caitlyn Dyckman, the containers are generally considered waste because it’s more expensive to bring them back to port than to leave them in the Caribbean. But the right redesign approach could turn these large vessels into viable housing.

“Our goal for the initial start up phase of the project is to come up with a design that, like the ISO container, can navigate the many different scenarios — Haiti, Dominica, Jamaica etc. — in the Caribbean, and at the same time be “open” enough to take root and adapt so that families can take ownership of the dwelling to meet their needs but within their means,” says Hecker.

Full Story: WorldChanging

See also: Shipping container home kit.

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