(Joint with Nathan Lauster and cross-posted at HomeFreeSociology) Empty homes are in the news again in West Vancouver after a West Vancouver council motion asking the province for the power to levy their own Speculation and Vacancy tax. THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Provincial Government provide local governments with the power to levy their own Speculation and Vacancy Tax, so that they too can address housing affordability and other community effects of vacant homes.
To help deal with the response effort in the recent Newfoundland and Labrador show storm, StatCan created vulnerability maps of the most affected areas. It’s great to see StatCan putting their data to use. After seeing this fly by on twitter and then flagged by Simon on Linkedin I had some thoughts on this that might be worth a quick blog post. I am biased in how I think of these kind of disaster response maps via the tools that I have developed for working with StatCan census data, namely CensusMapper interactive mapping platform and the the cancensus R package.
It’s been over two years now since the news media reported on John Rose claiming that Vancouver has a surplus of housing and Rose shared his Working Paper, Version 1 detailing his claims of some mythical oversupply of housing in Vancouver. We have written about this on several occasions, but we were missing a piece of data that can greatly simplify our arguments: Cross-tabulations of structural type by document type (whether a dwelling was occupied by usual residents, or occupied by temporarily present persons, or unoccupied) for the censuses 2001-2016.
Cities like Vancouver and Toronto talk a lot about unoccupied dwellings. We have a whole category for empty homes themed posts on this blog. Do we need one more? Probably not, except that we were able to open up an empty-homes related cross-tabulation that we needed through current work for CMHC. Yay, and big thanks to CMHC for making this available to the general public. Open data FTW! Possibly more useful is the classification of the entire building stock by structural type that this data contains, when in the past many have used the classification of the stock occupied by usual residents as a proxy that comes with the standard release census data.
Finally the new 2019 CMHC Rms data is out. As expected, the high-level numbers are pretty bleak. For Metro Vancouver the vacancy rate inched up a tiny bit from 1.0% in October 2018 to 1.1% in October 2019. In the City of Vancouver the vacancy rate similarly crept from 0.8% in October 2018 to 1.0% in October 2019. With the slight uptick in vacancy rate, both areas saw somewhat lower rents increases, with the (nominal) fixed-sample rent increase in the year before October 2019 clocking in at 4.