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Social-action groups, residents push governments to take action on housing

May 18th, 2016 · 3 Comments

People who have worked on housing issues for decades haven’t seen this much fear and anxiety about housing in Vancouver ever. When it was just working-class people and the homeless who were having trouble, there was a kind of low-grade concern.

But now that middle-class people working two decent jobs feel like they’ve been priced out of everything except condos in Vancouver and even Burnaby and North Van,the desire to change the system is palpable.

That has various individuals and groups jumping in to make recommend actions. We heard from the UBC and SFU professors a few months ago. Now the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has come in with its recommendations (much broader than just a vacancy tax), a group has formed to pressure all political parties on housing in the lead-up to next year’s provincial election, and two individuals have started petitions asking the federal government to take action (links here and here).

I’m waiting to see, myself, how this all coalesces. The Code Red/Generation Squeeze group isn’t making any specific policy recommendations yet, so as not to get people dissipating their energy on whether this technical detail or that one is the best strategy. Groups like CCPA are making big, broad recommendations that are actually more focused on getting governments to put money into lower-cost housing than on stopping foreign investment. And the resident petitions are focused exclusively on the foreign-investment issue. (One even suggests getting rid of the provision that allows Canadians to register as non-residents and not pay taxes — something that won’t please Canadians who have decamped to Mexico and Thailand to avoid taxes until they need to come back for healthcare.)

My Globe story here.

But to be effective, all these groups will need to sort out a specific change they want, otherwise governments will just allow them to dither amongst themselves. I await.


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