Night Music: Entre dos aguas

March 30, 2018

The Multiple Layers of The Housing Crisis

March 30, 2018

I was interested to read today that the Provincial government will be working to block the bare-trust loophole that allows speculators to avoid property taxes. I don’t know enough about the details to comment, but I assume this is a good thing to close off.  Along with the speculation tax, and an increased foreign buyers’ tax, pundits that I trust assure me this will help cool the top end of the housing market in the Lower Mainland.

At the level of the “ordinary” homeowner,  the provincial government seems happy enough to keep raising the threshold for property tax relief, and offering deferred payments for seniors.

Below that level, the so-called “missing middle” (a misnomer) is being dealt with, perhaps not as fast as some would like, by the huge backlog of condos and expensive apartments that are already in the approval pipeline.

At the very lowest level — and genuine problems and delays notwithstanding  — all three governments seem committed to building social housing in some form or another. (Though the failure to significantly raise the $375 shelter rate is nothing but a disgrace for a group that calls itself social democrats.)

The folks who have been truly forgotten are those at or just below the median income (in our famously low income City), most of whom rent.  It is true we weren’t promised much — a $400 annual grant — but even that has failed to materialize while money has been found to help those with capital in property. The lease-vacate clause in the RTC has been amended for the better, but so much more is needed.

We need immediate reforms, at least in these areas:

  • rents MUST be tied to units rather than tenancy; this alone will handle most of the renoviction issues, and help cool the general increase in rents;
  • all suites in the City should be grandfathered in as “legal”, and counted in Rate of Change regulations regardless of zoning;
  • a rent freeze, at least until the annual grant is established and operating;
  • changes to the Rental100 programme so that giveaways to developers are disallowed for units that will rent for more than 30% of the median income in Vancouver (30% of the single person’s median wage for studios and one-bedrooms, 30% of median family wage for 2 beds and up).

I will let those more qualified deal with the high end housing issues; these are the things I’ll be pushing for.



Happy Passover!

March 30, 2018