As Vancouver and Toronto go through a major housing shortage, with prices in those cities reaching sky-high levels, many residents find themselves unable to afford a house of their own.
But as one journalist says, that may not be a bad thing. Journalist Max Fawcett recently wrote an article in The Walrus outlining why problems in Canada’s markets may not be problems at all.
Jon McComb spoke to Fawcett on Friday about his reasoning, and how he thinks the government would serve the community better by investing in other avenues.
LISTEN to the full interview:
The crux of Fawcett’s claim is that housing markets like Vancouver are only a problem because of a fixation on home ownership.
Fawcett says people are raised from a young age to expect that they will eventually own a home.
“It’s part of the package we’re presented as members of the middle class, that you get an education of some sort, and get a good job, and buy a house and that’s sort of the natural progression of your life.”
But he says that expectation just isn’t possible for everyone here in Vancouver.
“[It] puts people today in a lot of financial jeopardy if they do get into the market.”
In fact, Fawcett pointed at a recent CIBC poll that found many millennial-aged home buyers soon regretted their decision.
Fawcett says they cited unaffordable mortgages and rising interest rates as reasons they experienced buyer’s remorse, to the point where they were considering selling the home they just purchased.
“They get the spiel about how great it is, but once they’re making the mortgage payments every month and seeing the reality of it, I think they get a more accurate perspective on the costs of home ownership.”
And according to Fawcett, it’s not just home buyers – many millennials are foregoing home ownership entirely to stick with rental housing.
He suggests that instead of funding an already expensive housing market, the government should be putting money into alternatives like cooperative housing and rentals.
“Options that give people security of tenure and the ability to put a roof over their head.”
Fawcett says only creating more purchasable homes will just keep Vancouver unaffordable, which will, in turn, push away prospective talent.
In response to the housing crisis, the federal government recently announced its intention to fund affordable housing in Vancouver, something Fawcett says is a good sign for the future.
“It takes all three levels of government working together to solve this problem, and it’s good that you have the feds back at the table.”
What that funding will be put toward remains to be seen, but as younger generations find less value in home ownership, Fawcett hopes the government will look to where they’re going.
With the homeownership industry supported by banks and real estate companies, Fawcett says the government has to be the ones to support alternatives.
“They need to see beyond the short-term interests of the people who lobby them or talk to them, and really kind of see the big picture here.”