Mail & Guardian | A single 'developer' seeks to make a farce of spatial justice in Johannesburg

'The stakes are high for the people of Rossmore and Brixton, when a full council of City of Johannesburg meets to decide whether to change the spatial framework of this area.

The change would result in a six-storey apartment block in a neighbourhood of single and semi-detached homes. The developers say the building will provide students with affordable housing, thus meeting the need spatial justice. Yet the bachelor units, designed with car owners in mind, are to be sold for R800 000 and cannot be described as providing housing for the poor.'

Read More
Urban Law Lab
The New York Times | Trade on the Streets, and Off the Books, Keeps Zimbabwe Afloat

'The government has occasionally cracked down — sometimes violently — on the street vendors, who are not licensed, describing their activities, near the seat of government and businesses, as an eyesore. Some of the vendors have also staged protests against Mr. Mugabe’s rule.

But the government mostly turns a blind eye, clearly calculating that a permanent crackdown on the livelihoods of an increasing number of its citizens would result in greater political instability. According to an unspoken rule, the street vendors are allowed to operate only after dark on weekdays and starting in late afternoon on weekends.

“If I come too early, the police will take my wares away and I’ll be broke,” said Norest Muza, 28, who sold popcorn and chips while carrying her 2-year-old son on her back. “Evenings, the police don’t come.”'

Read More
Urban Law Lab
Curbed | De Blasio tries again for ‘mansion tax’ to fund affordable housing

Mayor de Blasio is taking another stab at passing his “mansion tax,” which would add a 2.5 percent charge to all residential sales over $2 million—money that would be then be allocated to affordable housing initiatives.

On Monday, the mayor testified on state funding for the city’s 2018 budget in Albany, arguing that the revenue from the proposed tax would go toward Section 8-style rent subsidies for as many as 25,000 low-income seniors, the New York Post reports. Though the mayor failed to gain support for a similar measure in 2015, he told state lawmakers that with federal funding so uncertain, it was necessary for the city to find new ways to pay for affordable housing.

“The people who would be affected can certainly afford this additional tax,” the mayor told lawmakers. According to City Hall officials, the tax would only apply to the part of the sale price over $2 million, and, if passed, would raise about $336 million in fiscal 2018.

Read More
Urban Law Lab