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BC Election 2017, Politics, News

Millennial perspectives: What you told us about housing and affordability

BC Election 2017, Politics, News

Millennial perspectives: What you told us about housing and affordability

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DH Vancouver Staff May 07, 2017 2:31 am 556

In a BC election campaign that had voters and candidates debating a wide range of topics, Daily Hive reached out to young voters for their thoughts on the big issues.

Sure enough, many of you had plenty to say when it came to the topic of housing and affordability. Here’s what you had to say.

Carly Wignes

Young voter Carly Wignes (Carly Wignes)

Young voter Carly Wignes (Carly Wignes)

  • Age: 30
  • Lives: Vancouver

My perspective on housing and affordability:

I worry about being reno-victed and having to move within the city and pay much higher rental costs, or move out of the city and face a longer commute to my job downtown. We need to address this to maintain a diverse and inclusive population within the city.

I would like to see BC ease permitting for laneway housing and secondary suites, crack down on tax evasion, and favour the homeowners who can prove that they live and contribute to Vancouver.

Lar Quigley

Young voter Lar Quigley (Lar Quigley)

Young voter Lar Quigley (Lar Quigley)

  • Age: 32
  • Lives: Downtown Vancouver

My perspective on housing and affordability:

I’d be surprised if housing is not on everyone’s list as–outside the rain–it will always be a topical conversation anywhere I go in this city. Whilst I have seen some steps over the last couple of years such as the foreign buyer tax and BC homeowner partnership for first time buyers – there needs to be a focus on repositioning the city’s property valuations.

Vancouver will always be a desirable city to live in, but we are challenged with geographical limitations and a cost of living that is not supported by the medium salaries available in this city.

Heali Thirlwell

Young voter Heali Thirlwell (Heali Thirlwell)

Young voter Heali Thirlwell (Heali Thirlwell)

  • Age: 25
  • Lives: Vancouver

My perspective on housing and affordability:

By the time my dad was my age, through working hard to save up, he had already bought and sold two houses. My fiancé and I work equally as hard and have been saving for years, but today, we consider ourselves fortunate to be able to rent a one bedroom, 600 sq. ft. condo in Vancouver. I would love to purchase a condo in the next few years, but it’s nearly impossible to afford anything near where we work.

BC residents need places to live. I realize that times are changing, and that we need to be more efficient with space as the world becomes more populated, but it would be great to have a dining room one day! This is particularly important for families, as crowding into a small condo is not a favourable option. If we want to increase our chances of attracting the best talent to Vancouver, the price of housing must be on a level playing field as other major cities.

In a world-class city that is constrained by mountains and the ocean, I understand why prices are high. We have limited supply and increasing demand. It’s a challenging and highly complex issue that cannot be resolved overnight.

In my mind, it’s hard to limit demand, so I would focus on overcoming the supply issue. I would like to see the city increase density and relax zoning requirements to support development. If the city were to increase density, developers could build higher buildings, resulting in increased supply. As any economist will tell you, if we flood the market with supply, prices will drop.

The next step is to speed up the development process. I would like to see the City of Vancouver hire more city planners who can approve projects, so we can shorten the turn-around time for permitting and building applications. The faster that projects are approved, the sooner that construction can begin and more supply can be delivered to the market.

Finally, I would like to see greater federal and provincial support for rapid transit in Vancouver. We are one of the most congested cities in Canada. When residents evaluate moving to the suburbs, one of their first considerations is the commute time. Living in the suburbs would be much more viable if we speed up transit (Hyperloop anyone?), and increase the frequency of trips.

Lindsay Nagle

Young voter Lindsay Nagle (Lindsay Nagle)

Young voter Lindsay Nagle (Lindsay Nagle)

  • Age: 34
  • Lives: Kitsilano, Vancouver

My perspective on housing and affordability:

The affordability issue is big. Housing is not a commodity to get betting on and trading. For this reason the majority of my staff are located outside of the Lower Mainland (Calgary), as no one can compete if they are to pay a decent living wage here.

This is important because it makes BC a tough place to grow a successful business. When companies can’t recruit top talent, because of how much it costs to live here, it hurts everyone.

I think a speculation tax might help, whereby a large tax on properties bought and then sold within something like a five-year term was put in place, might curb it a bit and also the empty home tax.

Jennifer Deol

Young voter Jennifer Deol (Jennifer Deol)

Young voter Jennifer Deol (Jennifer Deol)

  • Age: 25
  • Lives: Unceded Coast Salish territory (Vancouver)

My perspective on housing and affordability:

Affordability and housing is a significant issue impacting a lot of people I care about.

Despite being a working professional, with student loans and high cost of living in Vancouver, I find it extremely hard to find affordable housing options.

I’m currently crashing with a friend on a couch splitting a one bedroom, it’s insane. My friends and I don’t entertain the thought of being able to afford a house in our lifetime, which is sad.

The current government has fumbled on this issue long enough, and parties need to seriously take control of and regulate the housing market in BC.

They need to back up their empty promises with big financial investments to address the homelessness and affordability crisis in our province.

Jake Friedrich

Young voter Jake Friedrich (Jake Friedrich)

Young voter Jake Friedrich (Jake Friedrich)

  • Age: 22
  • Lives: In North Vancouver

My perspective on housing and affordability:

Well, living in Metro Vancouver, I think everyone in their later teens up to their mid-20s (and possibly even 30s) trying to live on their own understands why of all issues, this is the big one I’ve picked.

BC is an incredibly pricy place to live, as I’ve found out. I lived in Calgary for not too long, and the rent prices there are absurdly low compared to BC’s Lower Mainland.

It’s getting to the point here where, unless I can convince my employer to get set hours so I can get a second job, I may have to start considering leaving Vancouver; as much as I love it here.

Even back in the interior (Kelowna, for example), some rent prices are comparable to Vancouver, even though a smaller city like that has considerably less to offer.

Myself and all of my friends here are living the paycheque-to-paycheque reality right now. Our personal lifestyles are altered by the fact that we actually cannot afford to do as much as we want to.

Yes, there are many free things to do in here (like Lynn Canyon, five minutes from my home), but there are also a lot of things we would like to do, but just cannot afford.

To my knowledge, the only thing that’s currently being proposed is a $400 renters rebate. Now, I’m not sure how that operates (whether it’s a monthly rebate, annual, or how one would apply for it), but it’s a step in the right direction.

I’d also like to see more measures taken towards real estate being sold as an investment, rather than homes.

People in BC need a place to live, whether they’re making minimum wage, or are on disability, or if they’re even making a decent amount.

I believe that the government has taken the right steps towards resolving the issues, but I also believe that a lot more can be done.

 

Katherine Dawn Fredette

Young voter Katherine Fredette (Katherine Fredette)

Young voter Katherine Fredette (Katherine Fredette)

  • Age: 19
  • Lives: Votes in the Coquitlam-Maillardville riding

My perspective on housing and affordability:

When I turned 18, my Mum couldn’t afford to pay rent and feed me anymore without child support, so I had to move out from home (she moved across the province the week I graduated high school to find a more affordable living situation) and now I cannot afford to even rent a bachelor apartment with my boyfriend.

My boyfriend and I would like to move out from his parents’ house one day, the plan is hopefully before we are 25, but in this housing market that is optimistic at best.

I want people to be able to apply for low income housing options in cities they are not living in.

If you have to wait for three years to get a house in your city, but four months for a house in Penticton, you should be able to chose to move to Penticton when the option becomes available, not to have to move and then apply and hope for the best.

Felix Kay

Young voter Felix Kay (Daily Hive)

Young voter Felix Kay (Daily Hive)

  • Age: I’ll be 36 in May
  • Lives: In Vancouver

My perspective on housing and affordability:

On the subject of affordable housing. No one said that the DTES was supposed to be for the impoverished only. Why can’t we develop in that area and make it safe and clean for everyone? Why is it looked down upon if developers want to clean up the area or for someone to say they don’t like the way the DTES is?

Not saying they should kick out all the homeless, but having them on the street, with needles everywhere, without help, is not something I think the DTES was “made for.” Our elected officials needs to get on that as of yesterday and start developing projects for both low income and market rate housing as well as cleaning up the streets. It’s the region’s dirty secret and politicians should be fixing it, not hiding it under the rug.

As for everyone else who complains about housing, I also believe there is a lot of affordable market housing. I believe it’s not a “right” to live/own in Vancouver. I don’t understand why some people today believe that they are entitled to own property in Downtown or the Olympic Village. There is plenty of housing available in other parts of the Lower Mainland.

I think people need to lower their expectations on what “affordable” is and how they can achieve it.

The province is doing what they can to stop the costs of housing to rise, and I support what they are doing. But no matter what people think, there is no bubble. Houses will never be as low as you buy in today in 20 years. Just get into the market with a starter, then flip and move until you can achieve what you believe to be your dream home. Prices will rise and fall, but just like the stock market, if you hold on long enough you will come out on top.

The only thing I want to see done, speaking on the real estate industry, is to have more regulatory standards, similar to what the securities industry has. Everyone has a realtor licence these days, and I feel they need to have more provincial regulations on how realtors conduct business. Just my two cents.

Simka Marshall

Young Voter Simka Marshall (Simka Marshall)

Young Voter Simka Marshall (Simka Marshall)

  • Age: 24
  • Lives: In Vancouver, originally from Vancouver Island

My perspective on housing and affordability:

The issues that I care about most can all basically be lumped into the category of “affordability”. As a young person in BC, there are many examples of how this province is becoming increasingly unaffordable to live in.

The government has reported that more than three quarters of new jobs require some form of post-secondary education. Yet tuition fees – which represent the largest up-front barrier to accessing education – have increased 290% since 1990.

On top of that, the BC Student Grants Program was eliminated in 2004, forcing students and their families to take on debt to pay for school.

High school level courses (typically called adult basic education) have been free for adults since 2007, but in late 2014 the government eliminated funding for this program and allowed fees of up to $1,600 per semester to be implemented. Helping British Columbians to retrain or to enter the workforce should be a priority for our government, and implementing fees hinders this effort.

The cost of living in British Columbia is becoming increasingly prohibitive.

Housing costs are far above what most can pay, and our low minimum wage keeps many living below the poverty line. Adding low wages to a complete lack of affordable childcare means that many parents are being shut out of participating in our economy.

Students are often being forced to live paycheck to paycheck. A holistic approach that tackles the high cost of rent, low-wages, and high tuition fees is what we need to create a more affordable province.

Nicole Douglas

Young voter Nicole Douglas (Nicole Douglas)

Young voter Nicole Douglas (Nicole Douglas)

  • Age: 22
  • Lives: In Victoria

My perspective on housing and affordability:

I remember one of my professors joking that none of us students would ever be able to afford the houses we grew up once we’re in the market to buy and I realized later… that wasn’t a joke. It’s true and it’s unfortunate.

My mother was a home owner in her late 20s and I really don’t see that happening for me. I’m responsible with my money but it’s just unrealistic in today’s economy, especially in the Lower Mainland.

Jonathan Moses

Young voter Jonathan Moses (Jonathan Moses)

Young voter Jonathan Moses (Jonathan Moses)

  • Age: 30
  • Lives: In Whistler

My perspective on housing and affordability:

Housing is getting fairly unreasonable within British Columbia. For example, living in Whistler is getting to a point where it is next to impossible to renting property. There is a massive housing shortage, with an increasing rate in rent season after season, [as well as] competition with third party rental companies such Airbnb who seem to dominate the housing sector.

There needs to be a line somewhere in order for someone to even make it possible to rent or own a home within highly populated areas. There needs to be restrictions on third party rentals when it comes to a housing shortage crisis. Homeowners are increasing rates and switching to third party rentals only to worry about themselves and not the others making it impossible to live in BC.

I believe everyone should be able to afford where they live–this shouldn’t be a business only for the 1%. We say we are the happiest place to live in some polls, but are we really?

Amie Nguyen

Young voter Amie Nguyen (Amie Nguyen)

Young voter Amie Nguyen (Amie Nguyen)

  • Age: Late 20s
  • Lives: Born and raised in Vancouver

My perspective on housing and affordability:

Well, there have been a few times I’ve thought about selling an organ just so I can make rent. But when I got my motorcycle licence, I became an organ donor, so I’ll let life run its course and work three to five jobs instead.

I don’t know, I’m just happy when I can still afford to get chicken nuggets.

Vancouver is a small big city. Although the city itself is still developing, it’s the beauty surrounding it that attracts people and makes us want to stick around. I mean, there’s no denying that being able to snowboard and go to the beach within hours apart is rare but that’s the trap. Everybody wants to come here, why wouldn’t they?

But when there’s nowhere else to develop, you build up or you build down and Vancouver is too beautiful to go sub-ground so be prepared for more and more high rises and skyscrapers that will compete to get a better view.

I’m not an expert in real estate or development so I really have no idea what I’m saying. I guess when it comes down to it with anything in life, the more something is in demand, the more you should expect to have to put in to get in. I just hope that property owners are making conscious decisions instead of greedy ones.

Raphael Dipasupil

Young voter Raphael Dipasupil (Raphael Dipasupil)

Young voter Raphael Dipasupil (Raphael Dipasupil)

  • Age: 25
  • Lives: In Burnaby, near Metrotown

My perspective on housing and affordability:

Honestly the majority of my peers aren’t going to be able to settle in the city at the rate housing prices have been going. More and more people are talking about moving away so that they can make more money and gain equity. The city will be losing a lot of not only the next generation’s workforce, but older generations due to not being able to stay in the city.

[We need] more mixed income housing, an increase in the monitoring of empty homes, and enforcing the empty housing tax. I think the foreign buyers’ tax has and will do more to hurt our economy and adversely affect our city’s capability of having a competitive workforce.

Monica Chan

Young voter Monica Chan (Monica Chan)

Young voter Monica Chan (Monica Chan)

  • Age: Early 30s.
  • Lives: In Richmond, BC

My perspective on housing and affordability:

I have been naive about the affordability topic until last year. In 2016, we were newly married and we opened a new business. Needless to say, there was a lot of budget planning. That really brought to the forefront the issue of affordability and affordable housing. It’s a steep learning curve and it was like being hit by a bucket of cold water.

Reality is that our expenses were disproportionately higher than income. Paying down debt ate up a lot of our earning and we were growing particularly worried about the housing euphoria (aka bubble alert!). We had to make some changes to level out that imbalance including moving out of Vancouver, selling our condo to deleverage, and actively seeking out other opportunities for investment.

We are comfortable now with our debt level but it’s a daily conversation about how we can position ourselves so we can have the lifestyle we want in the long-term.

BC is my home. Both my husband and I were born here. My families are here. Our future family is here. Our business is here. We love this city. We just can’t afford it without mortgaging our future. This negative spiral has got to stop.

I want to see long-term plans in place to address affordability and increasing income levels. I feel like the general direction is very short term focused.

An example would be the provincially backed loan announced by Christy Clark last December. Yes it’s great to help first time home-owners with their downpayment, but how would they keep up with mortgage payments and other expense if it’s already difficult to achieve a down payment? This is glaringly short-sighted. Is there a plan in place to help these same families earn more income? No more bandaid policies.

Luke Aulin

Young voter Luke Aulin (Luke Aulin)

Young voter Luke Aulin (Luke Aulin)

  • Age: 37
  • Lives: In Vancouver

My perspective on housing and affordability:

I own and run a business with fantastic people headquartered in Vancouver. The affordability of housing in this city puts pressure on our team’s ability to grow our individual wealth while living here. This puts pressure on companies like ours as many small- to medium-sized businesses cannot afford to solve this problem by paying people more.

Even very large companies are being impacted by this. For example, Jimmy Pattison–one of BC’s richest employers–has even chimed in on the pain this is causing him. I don’t feel sorry for Jimmy, necessarily, as I have a feeling he can find a way to do more for the staff he’s losing. And not to pick on Jimmy, he does do good in many ways, but I do feel sorry for those business owners who want to help their teams grow financially but truly cannot afford to pay their staff more.

At our company, we’re not waiting for the government to solve this alone here. I know the government is trying things and I hope they don’t screw it up. How we are taking accountability for our part of this problem is by pivoting our business to find ways to hire people outside of Vancouver to grow our business profitably.

We’re also making everyone an owner in our business so our team’s personal long-term wealth creation will grow alongside the business we’re growing together. We also encourage our team to take part in this solution themselves. Want to earn more at RTOWN? Come up with new way our company can grow, bring that to the leadership team and earn a part, personally, in the upside you help create.

All people, not just our institutions need to take ownership over their own part of the solution to this problem.

Jenna Bind

31-year-old Vancouver resident Jenna Bind (Jenna Bind / Brian Ceci)

31-year-old Vancouver resident Jenna Bind (Jenna Bind / Brian Ceci)

  • Age: 31
  • Lives: Kensington neighbourhood, Vancouver

My perspective on housing and affordability:

I think this is a huge issue in Vancouver particularly. It’s hard to see yourself doing pretty well at 31 with a decent job and education, but still in group living like a student. I can’t even dream of owning a home. Every day I choose between comfortable living or managing to save a tiny bit. Can’t have both here. I get scared for our future, no equity, retirement, etc. Moving is severely stress-inducing too, with the poor rental market.

[This is all] adding stress and travel time to many [people’s days], and usually the poor the most. People who are already well off gain the benefits of shorter commutes or not worrying about noisy shared living. They feel better, can work harder and move up.. while it’s the opposite for those already struggling. Also, it’s preventing young families from starting here. It’s going to cause big problems down the road, both with greater inequality and changing the fabric of our city.

I’m pleased about the foreign ownership tax and that the idea is to tax empty units. I know not everyone agrees, but homes need to be for people to live here, first and foremost. I also think limits to rent raising need to be seriously watched. The majority of new builds should be affordable. The laneway house program should be continued.

Ashneel Singh

Young voter Ashneel Singh (Ashneel Singh)

Young voter Ashneel Singh (Ashneel Singh)

  • Age: 29
  • Lives: Downtown Vancouver

My perspective on housing and affordability:

My fiancée and I have good professional jobs and a combined income of over $120K and we are not even close to be able to affording a one-bedroom apartment downtown. I think that is insane.

There has been a net decline of young adults leaving the city of Vancouver over the past five years. I’ve seen it with my own friends, I’ve seen it in the tech industry.

People turn 30 and want to start a family and would rather move to Calgary where they can buy a home. With young professionals leaving Vancouver who is going to support this city?

We are walking a fine line by keeping prices artificially high to satisfy current homeowners and killing any hopes the future generation has of a livable city.

Implementing policies that help people with insanely high downpayments only continues to inflate these high prices.

There’s a reason people can’t afford the downpayments and no one is looking at the fundamental problem of incomes being completely disproportional to the average price of a home.

First off, I think the government needs to admit to an affordability problem.

It’s unfortunate to see how disconnected they are to people in their 20s struggling to make ends meet, most of whom have university degrees and are well educated.

The problem is these people are elected to implement policies that will support the citizens and so far, it seems like the policies implemented are ones to make sure homeowners values continually stay high.

I think we need to actually look at median incomes in the city and come up with policies that allow people who are living and working in Vancouver to buy versus buying for investment purposes.

Allison Marlyn

Young voter Allison Marlyn (Allison Marlyn)

Young voter Allison Marlyn (Allison Marlyn)

  • Age: 20
  • Lives: Usually lives in Vancouver, but currently on exchange in Edinburgh

My perspective on housing and affordability:

Affordability and housing in Vancouver has had a significant affect on me as a university student. The price of housing is a big problem, but another issue is the lack of short-term leases anywhere near UBC. I live at home during the summer to save money, and trying to find places to live the past two years has been challenging.

As well, even though the neighbourhoods around UBC are home to students, a lot of the stores, especially the grocery stores, are not oriented towards people living on a student budget. This city is home to lots of people who don’t have high incomes, and it needs to be affordable for these people. In order to help with the housing and affordability crisis, I would like the government to raise the minimum wage to a living wage.

Kelvin Tayag

Young voter Kelvin Tayag (Kelvin Tayag)

Young voter Kelvin Tayag (Kelvin Tayag)

  • Age: 22 going on 23
  • Lives: Victoria

My perspective on housing and affordability:

The fact that housing has constantly been on the rise in Vancouver, it is increasingly becoming apparent to me that I might not be able to own a home someday.

This is a huge issue in Vancouver because it seems to be driving young folks out of the city and even causing longtime habitants of the city to choose other options.

​It is clear that our governments need to address and tackle this issue full force. We need a government that will address this problem fully because, causing people to move out of the city due to the abysmal rise of the housing market does not reflect good government.

Jessica Hannon

Young voter and executive director of Megaphone magazine (Jessica Hannon)

Young voter and executive director of Megaphone magazine (Jessica Hannon)

  • Age: 30
  • Lives: Vancouver

My perspective on housing and affordability:

We all feel the housing crunch, but it has the most profound and frightening impact on people experiencing poverty. I speak to people every week in Megaphone’s office who are being renovicted, who have no choice but to sleep in shelters or on the streets, who are desperate and frustrated and out of options. It is heartbreaking and unjust.

Our social safety net – the one we pat ourselves on the back about sometimes in Canada – has been systematically dismantled. Lack of affordable housing doesn’t just affect people experiencing poverty, but this is where the impacts are the most severe.

Homelessness is not normal. For young voters especially, it’s important to remind ourselves of that, because we might not remember a time when it was abnormal. My parents probably didn’t see tents pitched on the side of the road as they drove me home from the hospital 30 years ago. Now, there are an estimated 4,000 people experiencing homelessness in Metro Vancouver, and 10,000 to 15,000 in the province.

It’s estimated five people become homeless every week in Metro Vancouver. In a province as prosperous as BC, we can do a lot better than that. Morally, we ought to. And it is actually more expensive to keep people homeless than it is to house them. Shelters, emergency room visits, health care – the costs of homelessness add up quickly.

Homelessness kills. It quite literally steals decades from a person’s life: the average age of death for someone who is homeless is between age 40 and 49. The most infuriating thing about it is we know how to solve the homelessness crisis. Not taking decisive action to end homelessness is a political choice.

Homelessness is a solvable crisis that has lost its urgency. If 10,000 people in British Columbia lost their housing in an earthquake, they wouldn’t be homeless for long. We need to treat homelessness with the urgency of a disaster.

The incoming provincial government should implement a poverty reduction plan for BC with clear targets and timelines (we are the only province without one). We need to raise the rates. Welfare has been stuck at $610 per month since 2007. Try living on $610 a month in Vancouver: it’s legislated poverty.

We need to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, so working people are not stuck in poverty. We need to take action on poverty.

People experiencing poverty are being ignored to death by the BC Liberals.

Ryan Cho

Young voter Ryan Cho (Ryan Cho)

Young voter Ryan Cho (Ryan Cho)

  • Age: 33
  • Lives: Burnaby, around Metrotown

My perspective on housing and affordability:

I am lucky; my housing and employment is more secure and much less precarious than many other people my age.

Partly through timing, dumb luck, and the initial financial support of my parents, I was able to purchase a condo in Burnaby eight or so years ago.

Right now raising a family or something like that is not on my immediate horizon, so my current housing situation work for me for now.

My story is the exception, not the rule though; many of my friends my age are actively making plans to leave the city for smaller towns in BC or other cities in other provinces because of affordability issues, often times associated with balancing a future family.

I enjoy my life here in YVR, but I sometimes wonder if a time will come when I am the only one of the close friends left here.

I also wonder that if I ever get to the point where I may want a family, whether or not I would be able or want to stay in the city.

Housing and affordability is important in BC for all sorts of reasons, but I specifically worry that if affordability continues or get worse in metro Vancouver, the area is going to get hollowed out and lose its soul.

I know community groups that are losing their programs because their spaces are being sold and torn down to for condos.

The artists and people who contribute to the cultural and creative life of the city are often the first squeezed out in raising rents and precarious employment, as well as the young families who are the lifeblood of any city and give it its energy.

If that happens it will not only make our communities less connected and vibrant, but also degrade our ability to have a robust local economy due to talent and leaders leaving the city.

The common narrative that people have about Vancouver’s unaffordable housing market is that foreign investment is the main reason for the issues we have here.

While this certainly has some influence on it, I would argue that the issue is more complicated than that and class and capital is a more important factor in the crisis we have today.

There are lots of locally born Canadians (including local real estate developers) who make huge profits off the housing market and don’t have an interest in the housing market deflating too much.

These include (often older) upper middle class Canadians nearer to the end of their careers who benefit from the market at the expense of (often younger) lower income Canadians who are trying to build a future here in the city.

Despite the national/ethnic frame we often fall into when discussing this issue, the very wealthy of the world have more in common with themselves than they have with people from their culture or country of origin.

An uber rich Chinese person has more in common with Chip Wilson than they do with with the average Chinese person, in the same way that Jimmy Pattison has more in common with Richard Branson than he does the average Vancouverite.

To control the runaway housing prices here YVR, I would like to see reforms in zoning laws, so that developers would have to build a certain number of low income housing units for every condo/apartment units they created, a housing speculation tax, an empty homes tax, better laws to address real estate flipping by realtors and a bylaw to address the affect that Airbnb has on Metro Vancouver rental stock.

Kathleen Yang

Young voter Kathleen Yang (Kathleen Yang)

Young voter Kathleen Yang (Kathleen Yang)

  • Age: 23
  • Lives: Coquitlam, specifically Coquitlam-Burke Mountain

My perspective on housing and affordability:

When I was at SFU, there were a number of students who silently struggled with housing security issues.

University residences have to use a lottery system because there aren’t enough units to meet demand, and most post secondary institutions lack the capital to finance the construction of new residence buildings.

Finding an affordable place to rent is particularly challenging for students on loans, as they aren’t allowed to work full time without losing their interest free status.

If they choose to go back to work, the interest begins accumulating and they have six months before they have to start making re-payments.

Demovictions and renovictions are also on the rise, particularly in the City of Burnaby.

No one is building new rental housing and livable rental units are being destroyed to make way for new units to be sold at market rates. We’re all being priced out.

Housing is a human right. There are over 3000 homeless individuals in Metro Vancouver and it’s frustrating to know that those two reasons aren’t enough to convince people that we need to do something about housing and affordability.

Affordability and housing stems is a symptom of a larger issue at hand. We need a poverty reduction plan and are currently the only province without one.

The provincial government should also grant post-secondary institutions permission to take on debt for the purpose of building on campus residences to free up spaces in the rental market.

Student societies across BC have been advocating for this change for year and research from the Alliance of BC Students has shown that this change could allow up to 13,500 new residence units to be built in the Metro Vancouver area.

Rachel Garrett

BC Election 2017 Voter Profile Rachel Garrett (Rachel Garrett)

This will be the first time 20-year-old Rachel Garrett will vote in a provincial election (Rachel Garrett)

  • Age: 20
  • Lives: Most of the time in Vancouver on the UBC campus, but currently on a study abroad program in France, living in Lyon.

My perspective on housing and affordability:

Living in Vancouver, you can’t ignore the issue of housing. Being abroad in Lyon this semester has shown me just how extreme Vancouver’s homelessness crisis is compared to other cities across the globe. Rent in Vancouver has become obscene, leaving stable and safe housing completely inaccessible to a lot of us.

There’s not enough places to live, and the housing available is completely unaffordable. We need more government support for social housing, more aid to homeless populations, and we need federal and provincial action on Vancouver’s increasingly concerning housing market.

Hannah Warren

Young BC voter Hannah Warren (Hannah Warren)

Young BC voter Hannah Warren (Hannah Warren)

  • Age: 25
  • Lives: In Vancouver.

My perspective on housing and affordability:

Affordability and housing are huge things in daily life. Living in Vancouver is so expensive that I’m going to be leaving the Lower Mainland soon. Looking at what I spend on rent alone (especially to live in a safe and convenient place) over the span of a year is truly outrageous. This is money I could be saving to actually buy my own house.

Vancouver is such a booming city, and there is no planning to accommodate everyone that is arriving, regarding both transit and affordability/housing. This means that the quality of life for those of us that are already here (and those arriving) is decreased. It’s simply not feasible to live in this city anymore, which is why I will be leaving sooner rather than later. I’ve seen no short-term solutions arise while the problem continues to get worse.

There are no options for reasonable housing costs in Vancouver, unless you want to work a full-time job and live in the Downtown Eastside or with multiple people in a tiny space. There needs to be an adjustment on what is allowed in renovating historical homes to allow cheaper renovation costs (and to maintain the heritage housing). Perhaps a rent cap should be considered, since prices are increasingly exponentially.

Maria Szabo

Young voter Maria Szabo (Maria Szabo)

Young voter Maria Szabo (Maria Szabo)

  • Age: Turning 23 very soon
  • Lives: With her parents and younger brothers in Surrey, on what is the unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples

My perspective on housing and affordability:

I worked a minimum wage (just $10.25) job in university as it was all that was available to me, and it was pretty impossible to save because of the expenses associated with being a student, which are exorbitant.

The job I finally landed after my graduation was not much better and I still live at home with my parents, because rental spaces are low in number and high in cost.

I’m still paying an MSP premium while I watch my auto insurance rates hike each year.

My expenses are getting costlier–and it’s costly for my confidence in making my BC my home for years to come (I have, at this point, written off the idea of ever owning a home).

It affects me because I can see how these things affect my parents. These are very middle class concerns, though, and I am even more impacted by the idea of how this broader issue of neglectfulness and mismanagement by our government affects those who do not have the same advantages and safety nets that I do.

Affordability is important because we all struggle when our hidden taxes are hiked right under our noses, but it disproportionately impacts the least fortunate among us. People that are already getting left behind just can’t get ahead. When it’s the fault of our government, it shows that they don’t care.


To find more guides to all the issues, interviews with the BC party leaders, and plenty of opinions, check out our full BC Election coverage here: Battleground BC.

See also

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DH Vancouver Staff
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