Millennial perspectives: Renters of British Columbia need to vote on Tuesday

May 8 2017, 10:47 pm

Written for Daily Hive by Kathleen Yang, a young voter and political science graduate.

I am a renter. I’m a 23-year-old recent university graduate and am one of the few members of my peer group who has decided to take the leap and move out of my family home.

Some have said I’m a brave soul for moving out of the comfort of my parents’ well-resourced family home. After all, it has been from their fridge and cupboards that I was able to support my passion projects and volunteer work for so long.

Others have said I must be stupid to start pay for everything myself when I didn’t have to.

In fact, more young people are delaying this rite of passage into adulthood and living with their parents for much longer than was the norm just a few decades ago.

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation say affordable housing should only cost a third of your take home income. If one wanted to rent a room for $800, you would have to make at least $28,800 after taxes.

But BC has the second highest poverty rate in Canada. With 40 hours a week at the current $10 minimum wage, the most you’d make is $19,200.

Homeownership? What about renters?

Across party lines, housing has been a hot topic, but conversations have been limited to homeownership.

Left out the conversation are renters who are often younger, lower income and at greater risk of experiencing housing affordability issues or homelessness.

The student or recent graduate who is fortunate enough to live an apartment downtown is not the norm.

There are thousands of students who are currently straddled with debt, full course loads, and dealing with precarious and part-time jobs because the interest on their loan will start accumulating if they take on full-time work.

With a rental market vacancy rate of less than 1% in Vancouver, and an average of 2% in BC, what are renters to do?

Exasperating the scarcity of rental units are the demovictions of affordable rental units. (A demoviction is the act of being evicted as a result of a demolition.)

In the Metrotown area, there are blocks upon blocks of buildings with rental units that have been slated to be demolished and replaced by towers with units to be sold at market rates.

Renters aren’t a worthy voting pool

Some 30% of the households in BC are renters, but some activists have heard that behind closed doors some politicians have said there just aren’t enough voting renters for rental housing to be considered an important issue.

Renters just aren’t a worthy voting pool in this provincial election.

The same was once said about post-secondary students, yet four of our key lobbying points can be found in the BC NDP platform.

We never stopped advocating. We never stopped organizing and in the last federal election we showed up to the polls.

It is such a huge miss for parties who ignored the needs of renters in our province. Regardless of who wins this election, our government should be working for all of us.

Renters need to show up to vote in this provincial election. We will vote and hold our government accountable to the promises they’ve made. We simply can’t afford not to.

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.

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