The mayors of Vancouver, Copenhagen, and deputy mayor of Helsinki tackled the affordability issue all three cities are facing at a roundtable this morning.
Copenhagen’s Frank Jensen says his city has some power over supply.
“We can demand that upward of 25% of new housing units shall be affordable housing.”
Gregor Robertson says his city faces an ever steepening curve putting home ownership out of reach for many.
“Our focus at the city level is to build rental housing. Over half of Vancouver residents rent their homes. Attacking the problem from all angles is all we can do at this point.”
Helsinki’s Pekka Sauri had a sobering assessment.
“I think the problem in the end is unresolvable. A successful city has a housing shortage. Demand is bigger than supply. The more you build housing the more people want to move in it is as simple as that.”
The provincial government has insisted more supply will bring prices down.
UBC economists cautions against subsidies for first time home buyers
Meanwhile, a UBC economist is warning that subsidizing first time home-buyers in Vancouver’s housing market will just heat it up even more.
Joshua Gottlieb says there are other options the city needs to consider as it tackles the affordable housing crisis.
Gottlieb is an assistant professor at the Vancouver School of Economics and says subsidies would only add fuel to demand which increases prices.
Instead, he’s calling for increasing property taxes on investment properties that are not being rented out …
“It increases the supply any of these fervent construction battles that tear apart neighbourhoods. It just increases supply by taking the existing houses and making it worth your while to rent them out uinstead of leaving them vacant.”
City council is expected to review several options on solving the lack of affordable housing in Vancouver over the next few months.