July 4, 2021

Uytae Lee Video: Can we rent our way out of the housing crisis?

Another great video for Urbanarium by Uytae Lee (our best videographer on urban issues).  He tackles an aspect of the housing issue with his usual cleverness and insight – a very entertaining combo.

I’m not sure I buy the singular connection between homeownership and wealth inequality, at least based on the graph he shows, but there’s no doubt about the massive bias we have for the former.

Governments at every level have tried to make the combination of homeownership and wealth acquisition broadly accessible.  Of course it’s true that in addition to providing essential shelter, housing is also used as a speculative asset.  But has there ever been a time in Vancouver (or Canada generally) when housing (or the land it was built on) hasn’t been seen as a financial investment while also providing a home?

Or to put it another way, if you can find anyone on the political spectrum who would deliberately tank the housing market and its mechanics so that untaxed growth in equity (the polite term for speculation) is not considered an entitlement, do let us know.  Every time I hear an aspiring politician or advocate say that housing should not be a speculative asset and only valued as a home, presumably with no equity gain of significance or one that should be taxed away, mine eyes rolleth over.

Uytae puts it like this: “Should we continue to treat housing as an investment for the everyday person or should we just treat it simply as a service?”

I ask, who exactly do we mean by “we”?

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  1. Interesting video. That being said I think it is a cop-out to blame low density zoning as a cause and then decide to treat “that can of worms another day”.
    If any one issue is to blame for housing inaffordability, either as a prospective renter or owner, it is the maintenance of low density neighbourhoods and even worse restricting density in developments where currently no housing exists. We in Vancouver are particularly blameworthy in this regard. If you want an example have a look at the growing and strangely well funded opposition to the development of some moderate towers on the Safeway site beside the Broadway Skytrain Station. Compare and contrast to Brentwood in Burnaby. Need one say more?

  2. YES we need more affordable rental units, but we should also should continue to promote home ownership.

    Show me an affluent renter and I show you a unicorn !

    The key issue is not enough housing is built, for both rental or ownership and what is built is too expensive. Many reasons for that, but over-regulation and over-taxation are the top 2 issues.

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