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Showing posts from May, 2013

Can We Do More Than One Thing at a Time?

Memorial Day has always fascinated me as an example of a US holiday that serves multiple purposes simultaneously: it's a day of remembrance for those who died in service to the country, and it's also a day to celebrate the coming of summer with cookouts, trips to the beach and family vacations. Somehow, we as a community are capable of doing all of that on one day. Today is a reminder that Americans are capable of doing multiple things at once.  Despite our ability to do multiple things at once, we don't always use it, and one of my largest frustrations as a policy advisor is when we don't multitask well, especially when it comes to preparing for the future.  Last week, an Interstate 5 bridge collapsed over the Skagit Rive r in the state of Washington. The bridge was "functionally obsolete" before a truck hit it and it collapsed . No one was injured in this incident, but other failures have led to loss of life, including the I-35W bridge failure in Minne

AARP Blog: What's Happened to Housing Affordability?

I wrote my first solo post for the AARP Public Policy Institute blog yesterday, "What's Happened to Housing Affordability."   Those of you that are regular readers of DrUrbanPolicy may remember that I first wrote about the different perspectives on housing affordability in  "'Housing's Back' Or is it? Understanding Measures of Housing Affordability" back in January when the National Association of Realtors released their Housing Affordability Index results for the last year. As in my earlier post on DrUrbanPolicy, I focus in on the difference between the NAR definition of "housing affordability" and my own.One thing that has troubled me through the years is that many people think of "affordability" at the initial time of purchase, but they then ignore the month-to-month costs down the road.  As the chart below shows, a higher percentage of homeowners and renters are "housing-cost burdened" than at the b

The Challenge of Making Homes More Accessible (#UDS5)

I didn't return to St. Louis for the 5th Universal Design Summit (#UDS5) this year, but following along from a distance has been great - the increased use of social media since 2010 has made that much easier. I'll use this occasion to share a few of my thoughts on creating more housing that meets UD goals with you.  First, some UD 101 for those who are unfamiliar: In housing, universal design's goal is to make homes more accessible to all people who might use the home, making special design or adaptations unnecessary if someone living in or visiting the home has physical difficulties or disabilities. ( See the AARP Public Policy Institute Fact Sheet on UD for more ) The picture to the left represents one of the simplest examples of universal design - an outlet at a reachable height that passes the "hammer test." If you look around the internet for advice on how high to place an outlet from the floor, you'll see several  recommendations to use the trad