A short while ago, I had the pleasure of speaking with David Eby, N.D.P., M.L.A and Housing Critic. David Eby is the hero of the middle and working classes. He is by no means, however, the enemy of the upper classes.
From Ontario originally, a lawyer and the son of one, since living in B.C., he has taken up the cause of the disenfranchised, working at the Pivot Legal Society and serving, for a time, as the executive director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association. He is adjunct professor of law at the University of British Columbia and has served as president of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, and as a research associate with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
This article will serve as the first of a series, profiling my conversation with Mr. Eby, about our local housing market. His body of knowledge on this topic is so vast, that I couldn’t condense it to only one article.
For some time now, Mr. Eby’s voice, has been the clarion call in our housing market, drawing attention to unaffordability, created by corruption, speculation, money laundering, and lack of, or failed Liberal polices. Over the last decade, our housing prices have spiralled out of control. The primary aim of housing, to provide people safe shelter, has been lost, making some very rich and in extreme, but not isolated cases, leaving many homeless.
Consider the shortage of shelters in Vancouver, as a support for that prior statement. Many, working, poor are now occupying our shelters and single occupancy, low rent hotels. This has created a further crisis for our homeless population, leading to the proliferation of tent cities. This, of course, is not confined to Vancouver. Abbotsford and Victoria can lay claim to ownership of tent city dwellings. In a very effective use of his role as Housing Critic for the N.D.P., Mr. Eby has tirelessly drawn attention to all of this.
Between the two poles of extreme wealth and extreme poverty, reside the large remainder of the population: you and I. We, are simply priced out and financially overleveraged. Contrary to what our naïve premier suggests as a possible solution to unaffordability, we cannot simply pack up our lives, jobs and families, and move northward in our province, to more affordable lands. Studies repeatedly show, that not only is our housing market the most expensive in Canada, West Coast households also carry the highest debt; simply put, we can’t really afford the land beneath our feet!
This, of course, impacts negatively on every subsequent cost of life, as no prices can be disassociated from land. Land, after all, impacts mortgages, leases, rents, which we all pay. This drives up the prices on everything, from the garments we buy to the foods and services we consume. We all carry elevated land related costs, whether directly or indirectly.
My personal belief, is that we saw this rapid and dangerous escalation in land and rent costs, immediately upon receiving the Olympic bid. I asked Mr. Eby about his views. They were of course very insightful and clear to understand. He pointed to a radical, unchecked increase in foreign investment, as well as poor development decisions, by our government, concerning the Olympic Village. He also observed, very correctly, that the income of locals, had been divorced from property prices for a very long time. The suburbs, once a haven for cash strapped, value conscious families, had suffered. He cited Maple Ridge hitting the $1,000,000 housing cost mark.
He observed, very insightfully and honestly, that middle incomes in our region had become hindrances to entering the real estate market. Reader, I ask you this, when did housing, become the luxury of the rich? After all, alongside food and water, shelter is one of the basic essentials of human survival.
There are, political policies and attitudes, that have created our present crisis. Addtionally, there are many political beneficiaries to your financial misfortune. Next week, I’ll share with you, more of Mr. Eby’s insights; until then, consider our regional situation and how it affects you and perhaps, a timely political change.
David Eby, Champion for Housing Affordability
on October 21st, 2016 0 comments