Empty Homes

Unoccupied Canada

The census 'unoccupied by usual residents' metric is often in the news and one of the most frequentliy misrepresnted parts of census data. A quick primer on what does does and does not say.

Jens von Bergmann Nathan Lauster

13 minute read

(Joint with Nathan Lauster and cross-posted at HomeFreeSociology) TLDR Canadian Census data on “Dwellings Unoccupied by Usual Residents” are frequently misunderstood. Now that data from 2021 are out, we provide a timely explainer and draw upon a variety of resources, including comparisons with US data, Empty Homes Tax data, and zooming in on census geographies, to help people interpret what we can see. Canada Unoccupied Given that ongoing occupations are so much in the news, let’s turn the channel to talk about those parts of Canada that are unoccupied!

No shortage in Housing BS

There is a special brain worm making the rounds that Vancouver supply has been outstripping demand. Which is obvious nonsense, but maybe still deserves a detailed takedown.

Jens von Bergmann Nathan Lauster

13 minute read

(Joint with Nathan Lauster and cross-posted at HomeFreeSociology) Say you built a bunch of housing in a cornfield in the middle of rural Iowa. Would people come to live in it? Maybe. But probably not. Let’s imagine the same scenario scooted over to Vancouver. The conditions for our little field of dreams have changed. Here we’re pretty comfortable predicting: if you build it, they will come. Housing limits population growth here in a way it does not in rural Iowa.

Three Years of Speculation & Vacancy Tax Data

We now have three years of SVT data, time to take a look at where things stand, how this fits in with related datasets, and what we can learn.

Jens von Bergmann Nathan Lauster

11 minute read

(Joint with Nathan Lauster and cross-posted at HomeFreeSociology) TL;DR We now have three years of Speculation and Vacancy Tax data for BC, demonstrating generally less than one percent of properties pay the tax in most municipalities. We play around with the data we scraped from files released by the BC government to show: how the federal CHSP program systematically overstates “foreign ownership” how source of revenue estimates shift depending upon definitions and tax rates how properties are moving into rentals and what else we can glean from exemptions and revenue data.

Basement Confidential: Vancouver's Informal Housing Stock

Basement suites are the Schrödinger's cat of dwelling units, they span the space betweem formal and informal housing, viewed by some as the problem of, and by others as the solution to Vancouver's housing woes.

Jens von Bergmann Nathan Lauster

12 minute read

(Joint with Nathan Lauster and cross-posted at HomeFreeSociology) Informal housing While housing is highly regulated via zoning bylaws, building code, and fire code, in situations of housing scarcity we often get informal housing that exists outside of - or only partially covered by - the existing regulatory framework. We often associate slums or shantytowns with the term informal housing, but it also applies to more organized settlements like Kowloon Walled City, or, in the context of subterranean Vancouver, a good portion of our secondary suite stock.

Rethinking the "foreignness" of owners living abroad

Comparing CHSP and SVT data we try to tease out how foreign our forein owners really are.

Jens von Bergmann Nathan Lauster

10 minute read

(Joint with Nathan Lauster and cross-posted at HomeFreeSociology) TLDR: Combining our two major sources of data on the “foreignness” of property owners suggests at least half of those owning property in high demand parts of BC but living outside of Canada are Canadian citizens or permanent residents. How Foreign Are You? BC housing discussions have often focused on various aspects of “foreignness” – foreign buyers, foreign owners, non-resident owners, foreign capital, home owners with non-anglicized last names, out of province buyers, buyers on 10-year entry program, foreign landlords – the list goes on in bewildering variety, and each category comes with it’s own range of interpretations and definitions.