The Housing Affordability Crisis

Vancouver itself and surrounding areas in BC’s Lower Mainland are among the most expensive regions in Canada in which to own a home.

The Housing Affordability Crisis

Vancouver is the second least-affordable city in the world after Hong Kong. In a city with a high number of renters, with 53 percent of those living in apartments, inequality in the housing market, along with the issue of sheer housing affordability, virtually guarantee that the rent gap continues to widen year after year, with increasing polarization among the people that call Vancouver home. Yet despite considerable challenges, there is a high degree of resilience among Vancouver’s renters, reinforcing the drive to find affordable housing solutions for the city.

Vancouver has long suffered a housing affordability crisis. Housing prices began rising during the 1970s after the federal government shut down the last two grant programs for developers to build purpose-built rental housing units, that is, housing built expressly for long-term rental accommodation. Cut off from this source of funding, developers focused on building condominiums, which they promoted as “livable”—close to green spaces, ocean views, and other amenities—so they could boost the asking price. The upward trend on prices was compounded by a forty-year push by the provincial government to entice, through tax incentives, offshore money from Asia.

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Topic Research

The gap between average home price and average wage is wider in Vancouver than any place except Hong Kong, testifies Dr. Patrick Condon in his 2021 book, Sick City: Disease, Race, Inequality, and Urban Land. Demographia 2020  also found that Vancouver is the second least-affordable city in the world next to Hong Kong.

“The value of urban real estate has become detached from local incomes, because as global elites acquire and concentrate wealth, they seek places to park it. Condos are the new stocks and bonds and Krugerrands, and that gives all the more impetus to a species well known in these parts—the land speculator.”

David Beers. (May 7, 2021). The Tyee.  Report on Patrick Condon’s book, Sick City:  Disease, Race, Inequality, and Urban Land


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