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Code Red Campaign focuses on "broken" housing market

Last Updated May 25, 2016 at 8:06 am PDT

(iStock Photo)

UBC prof says the housing crisis should be a top priority for all parties ahead of the election

Code Red campaign offers 10 "propositions for rethinking Canadian housing policy" for politicians

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – There’s a new push for our provincial politicians to do something meaningful to reign in out-of-control housing prices.

With a year to go until the provincial election, a campaign called Code Red launches today.

“Our goal is to ensure that every party — the left, the centre and the right — designs its platform in ways that signal how they are going to boldly reign in the housing market that is now growing out of reach for many younger Canadians from coast to coast and is simply out of control in big cities like Metro Vancouver and Metro Toronto,” says UBC policy professor Paul Kershaw, author of a new study supporting the campaign.

Kershaw — also the founder of Generation Squeeze — says the housing crisis should be a top priority for all parties ahead of the election.

“Too often we hear some leaders say that housing has become unaffordable in only a select few neighbourhoods like Point Grey in Vancouver. But our study shows across the entire Metro Vancouver Region that if you can cobble together a half-million dollars today — which would have bought you two entire homes a generation ago — it now barely buys you two bedrooms,” he tells NEWS 1130.

“This is posing fundamental challenges for younger Canadians who, a generation ago, had to work around five years to save a 20 per cent down payment on an average home. Now in all of BC they have to work 16 years to save that down payment and in Vancouver it’s 23 years,” he says.

“That is making starting a home so much more challenging for younger people, especially when they think about doing it at the same time they want to start a family.”

Kershaw says the study finds only 15 per cent of homes with at least two bedrooms in Metro Vancouver cost less than half a million dollars.

“That showcases that we have pushed the foundations for starting a home out of reach. This needs to be a fundamental issue we are tackling in the next federal election. It’s not a partisan issue — we need all parties to take it seriously.”

Code Red offers 10 “propositions for rethinking Canadian housing policy” for politicians.

“One of them is something we’ve been talking about for a while — we need to tax housing wealth differently than we do now to curtail treating housing as investment as opposed to homes,” says Kershaw.

“Another thing we’d argue is that we need to increase supply and change zoning practices accordingly. That includes building more rental supply because more young Canadians are going to have to become proud renters for much of their lives.”

Kershaw is also advocating for policy changes outside of housing to help ease the squeeze on younger generations while protecting equity for older homeowners.

“If that’s the goal, we need to say to younger Canadians that they’ll have to suck it up and pay more housing than what people did in the past. One way we can compensate for that is to no longer let childcare cost the equivalent of a second mortgage, time at home on parental leave cost the equivalent of a third mortgage, transit a fourth mortgage or student debt a fifth mortgage,” he adds.