Your Two Bits: Affordable Housing?

By Victoria Adams

Question: Who pays lip-service to the affordable housing crisis? Answer: All levels of Canadian government. But none declare that housing is a fundamental human right. In this country, housing is considered the privilege of those who work hard.

Governments rely on property development, construction, and the real estate sector to generate revenue; this, to offset growing infrastructure and debt servicing costs—which is why housing will never be affordable in this country. Governments at all levels subsidize residential-property owners via annual home-owner grants, preferential loans/mortgage insurance rates, rebates, property tax deferments, etc. But to tenants, governments offer no entitlements.

Carole James, BC Finance Minister, and MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill (which includes James Bay) suggests her party has the answers: a new tax to curb property speculation will resolve rampant real-estate speculation. Rewriting a few Rental Tenancy regulations will end renoviction/demovictions and ensure security of tenure for renters. Increasing rental supplements for modest income tenants will magically make life more affordable for 70% of households who rent in James Bay, many of whom spend more than a third of their monthly income on shelter costs. These are stop-gap measures.

None of the federal, provincial, or local politicians, property owners, or property developers has a solution to the housing crisis. How can they? They all benefit from maintaining the status quo—by enhancing the status and well-being of the haves at the expense of the have-nots.

This sad story is repeated ad infinitum. Those who make wise choices to exploit their advantages are destined to be winners. Those who make poor choices are destined to be losers. All this to justify not changing the game.

Those who spin such tales rarely ask why this state of affairs occurs. But this story is man-made. If one changes assumptions and context, surely a new outcome is always possible. What if we all adopt a new way of thinking? From those who are richly endowed, more is required. Then, likely, we’d be able to put a roof over everyone’s head.

Reference Source: 2016 Census Distribution of “Rent Poor” households in James Bay, Victoria, BC

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