In Vancouver there has been endless talk and spin about “affordable housing”. It is an important subject, but one that has no accepted guidelines for the debate. For example, many groups and institutions say that anything that costs more than 30% of gross income is not affordable, while Councilor Jang and others have proclaimed, unhelpfully, that “affordable is whatever you can afford.”
Mayor Robertson and his development cronies say that any rental or any condo of whatever price is affordable because it is more affordable than buying a house in Vancouver. He and they are deliberately confusing the terms “affordable” and “cheaper”. Just because a $600,000 condo is cheaper than a house at $1.2million, it doesn’t make the condo any more affordable to the average Vancouver wage earner making $50,000 a year.
Obviously the term “affordable housing” has been spun out of any meaning, and I say it should be abandoned altogether.
I prefer the term “lower-income housing” because that is what we are actually talking about. However, I recognise that will quickly be spun into a pejorative.
So how about “median-income housing”. This would have a very specific meaning as we know the median income in every neighbourhood — and it is a lot lower than would allow for the purchase or rental of most condo and “market rental” properties on offer today. Thus it would equate to affordable for at least half of the population.
Just a suggestion.