Tag Archives: automobiles

(1226) Vancouver: curbing the cost of living there


West Point Grey is out toward University of British Columbia and mostly it embodies the best of things Vancouver has to offer.  Unless you are living there in a van.  Such folk seem to be all over town now.  For the moment, the police are concerned about the phenomenon but there are no plans for a US-style crackdown on van dwellers.  As long as the vehicles remain mobile and nuisances are kept to a minimum it appears that this improvised manner of living is set to take hold.  Why?  Vancouver always had its share of social difficulty.  After all, it’s comparatively mild, and it is literally the end of the road in Canada.  Now it is also stupidly expensive for most waged workers.  Small wonder, really.
Car-dwellers rising: life on the curb of Canada’s most expensive city
cbc.ca/news
See also: (338) Globe on hacking housing crisis in van
image: A Kwanten via Flickr/CC

(1212) Houston’s socioeconomic disaster


Nearly a week was required just to get a basic description together of the damage done by Hurricane Katrina to New Orleans, Louisiana in 2005.  Assessing Hurricane Harvey won’t be any easier.  If Katrina is the template we know that lower income and racialized groups will be bearing the brunt of this, big time.
An item from Thursday’s Washington Post is a good starting point regarding this multi-layered event and its consequences.
Poor Texans are going to suffer the most in Harvey, thanks to state politics
(video 1:22)
Media largely blind to Harvey’s devastating impact on poor Communities.” Hurricanes don’t care if you’re rich, poor, white, or black—but that doesn’t mean that every person is equally vulnerable to a storm.”
commondreams.org
Houston’s human catastrophe started long before the Storm. Decades of neglect, inequality, and disenfranchisement mean that all Houstonians, but especially the poorest and most vulnerable, have been left utterly undefended
thenation.org
Consider how inappropriate regional development makes Houston so vulnerable.
Hurricane Harvey wrecks up to a million cars in car dependent Houston
wired.com
More zoning wouldn’t have protected Houston from Harvey’s fury but less sprawl would have
nymag.com
Houston must plan an inclusive recovery after Harvey flooded its public housing
urban.org
Harvey tests the limits of how we feed people during disasters
citylab.com
See also: (1207) Hurricane Harvey
image: screenshot of newsreel from Texas Archives holdings

(1133) Car town


Here in the Greater Toronto Area it feels like the real estate bubble will never burst.  Prices swell and then swell some more.  Equity flows – as if up through the very drains in the monster home basements – to enrich the fortunate homeowner.
An unavoidable parallel to this frenzy is found in automotive finance.  Where you have sprawl, you have cars, natch.
Is there an auto bubble on the horizon?
macleans.ca
Canadians getting lured onto auto debt treadmill by signing on to long term car loans
financialpost.com
What comes after the auto bubble?
frontiergroup.org
What’s happening with subprime auto loans?
visualcapitalist.com
‘Deep subprime’ auto loans are surging
bloomberg.com
image: Heather Philips via Flickr/CC

(1025) Comedy host John Oliver gets it

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If this blog had a board of directors we would appoint Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver to upon it sit.  He looked right into the dark heart of suburban poverty and social difficulty in a recent episode of his popular show to razor sharp effect.  How so?  He took the American sub prime auto loan industry out for a run, that’s how.

Oliver starts with the difficulty faced by many of his adopted country’s working poor: that trap between horrendously long commutes through the sprawl via public transit or buying some nasty set of wheels from a self-financing used car dealer.  There’s some impressive research and real world tales of woe brought out and then capped off with a hilarious skit spoofing the whole sad machinery of extortionate high interest loans, overpriced shitboxes and repossessions.  It has gotten so out of hand of late that some observers are seeing a repeat of the mortgage crisis of 2008 taking shape in US auto financing.  We’ll see soon enough.

image: staci myers via Flickr/CC

(949) More fun with cars: cardboard NY license plate

NewYorkplate
And always there’s the cars.  Workers are screwed by them and screwed without them.
A semi-disposable Internet moment caught suburban-poverty.com’s attention yesterday.  It illustrates succinctly one of the themes we’ve come back to often.
Seems a young woman in Western New York ran afoul of the sheriff for having to resort to making her own license plate.  Her cardboard plate looks like something a kid would do in art class.  Even has the little New York state map in the middle of a crooked row of letters and numbers.  It’s kinda cute.
Mainstream media networks picked up the story.  This “going viral” prompted Erie County resident, Amanda Schwieckert, to come forward and tell The Buffalo News her side of the story.  Looks like she struggles a bit to get by.  Insurance, registration fees and a parking ticket had whacked Amanda financially.  Yet, she could not keep her hotel industry job without her car.  The state took her plates.  Amanda made her own.
This kind of moment is straight from the pen of Barbara Ehrenreich or Linda Tirado, two popular writers chronicling how tough it is for working people to get by in America these days.  Amanda exemplifies the dual nature of working class motoring.  The expenses for a set of wheels often take things from bad to worse, can be unpredictable and enormously consequential.  Amanda is facing some steep charges including felony counterfeiting.  Ouch.
We can’t help but think that a little Jane Jacobs would go a long way in the life of Amanda and the millions of workers like her.  Community design, or the general lack thereof, reinforces poverty.  So much of North America is so totally car dependent its inhabitants cannot function in their native landscape without cars.  Many cannot even intellectually conceive of life organized at any other level than that of total mediation by automobile.
Hopefully Amanda’s resourcefulness is a sign she’ll be okay.
Single mother gives real reason for fake license plate that went viral

See also: (689) Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America [Book review]

(838) Globe on “hacking” housing crisis in Van

8393677938_77c6bd92ff_zCanada’s largest circulation newspaper ( or is it second largest, we don’t remember exactly and in a dying industry does it matter who is first ) shows us how to make a really fantastic contribution to the discussion of one of the most pressing public issues.

The Globe and Mail suggests ‘hacking’ Vancouver housing crisis by living in your car
rabble.ca

If you go down this road here are some pointers:
(103) A man’s home is his castle …and frequently also his shitbox!

Hey Globe and Mail, look who was on this, like, six hundred postings ago…
(262) Living in a van in Van

image: Alvin Trusty via Flickr/CC