Affordable Housing

Affordable housing is a critical social issue which is key to the social and financial well-being of the great majority of people in all income groups. Housing inflation effectively transfers wealth from all income groups to the very rich and puts extreme stress on those for whom housing is a necessity rather than an income opportunity.

High housing costs and low wages are the primary mechanisms which have reduced Canada’s equality level from 2nd highest in the world in the 1960s to the mid-20s currently. The commercial media discuss housing as a growth market and an income opportunity touting "the wealth effect" or "asset enhancement" as the means by which all can become wealthy. In reality, only very narrow interests profit from unaffordable housing.

But despite the media fixation with ever high house prices and the number of houses built, housing is long term consumption, rather than a wealth producing mechanism. The media promote housing inflation as it benefits their major advertizers consisting of banks, developers and other population growth-centric business models.

In fact, housing prices, although enabled by low interest rates, are driven by demand, which in Canada, is 80% due to immigration. In the major centres, immigration constitutes 100% of demand as there is a net outflow of Canadians.

Interest rates are the same across the country and in low demand areas, very nice 1400 sq ft homes on nice lots in good neighbourhoods can be purchased for well under $200,000. In the areas whose populations are being swelled by massive levels of immigration. Such houses would demand well over $1 million. Despite media denial or stonewalling, demand drives prices.

In the past 50 years Canada has built over 3 million additional residences to accommodate the nearly 10 million people the policy of mass immigration has added to the population. Even when the baby boomers entered the housing market swelling demand, governments still pumped up immigration levels driving housing shortages and extreme housing and rent inflation. All of this was being cheered on by the commercial media whose only growth path lay with population increases and the increase in local market size along with the very juicy ad contracts from subdivision developers and debt institutions.

Government policy is now to further increase immigration levels in order continuously drive housing market demand resulting in a tripling of Canada’s population by 2120 and dropping an additional 25 million houses and apartments on Canada’s fragile landscape. Canadians can abandon the hope that housing will ever become affordable or that house payments and rents will ever leave them with enough disposable income to get out of debt.

The current immigration policy is based on adding immigrants equal to 1% of the population annually which is essentially the formula for exponential growth. In 2020, that would mean 380,000 immigrants are admitted and in 2020, the number would be 1 million; in other words, growth forever whatever the social and environmental consequences.

There may be all sorts of handwringing and social housing assistance programs implemented, but until the structural issue of demand is addressed, there will be no relief from crippling housing costs.

Needless to say, besides the impact on housing affordability, the social, fiscal and environmental costs will be extremely large and extremely negative. Developers, speculators, debt mongers and media corporations will all continue to profit immensely though and this will allow them to maintain their hold on political power. These groups are the least likely to lead this country or any other to any sort of transition to sustainability because they profit exclusively from increasing and never ending population and consumption growth.

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