(Joint with Nathan Lauster and cross-posted at HomeFreeSociology) A spectre haunts housing policy. The spectre of empty homes. So how many empty homes are out there? Unfortunately, inept analyses of census data often leaves us with incomplete, or even worse, completely wrong answers to this question. When we get data on empty homes for a given city, they’re seldom put into comparative perspective. What’s worse, sometimes when they’re put into comparative perspective, they’re compared with the wrong data and picked up by credulous media, spreading misinformation.
(Joint with Nathan Lauster and cross-posted at HomeFreeSociology) The province has released (via press release) the first data on its Speculation and Vacancy Tax (SVT)! Huzzah! Previously, we’ve speculated on what this data would show. In particular, we estimated that around 8,800 dwellings would show up as empty in a way likely to be taxed by the speculation tax. How close were we? Well, the speculation tax has so far identified 8,738 owners of empty properties.
CensusMapper now has 2001 census data, the changes are live and functional and available for mapping and via the data API. We ran some basic verification of the import, and set the metadata for the variables. There may still be some quirks in need of getting ironed out, feedback is appreciated if anyone finds anything that does not look right. At the same time we finally updated my TongFen package to also include DA level TongFen out of the box, in addition to the CT level that has been working for a while.
(Joint with Nathan Lauster and cross-posted at HomeFreeSociology) BC has introduced the Speculation and Vacancy Tax and instructions for filling out the declarations are in the mail. The tax targets homes in major urban centres that are left empty, or that are owned by “foreign and domestic speculators” that “don’t pay [income] taxes” in BC. The tax rate is 0.5% of the assessed value in 2018. From 2019 onward rates increase to 2% for foreigners (not permanent residents nor Canadian citizens) as well as citizens or permanent residents that are deemed members of “satellite families.
Vancouver pushed out a heatmap of dwelling units that have so far failed to declare their empty homes tax status. With everyone eagerly awaiting data on the empty homes tax declaration we wonder what can be learned from the map. Turns out not much, the city did not normalize by the number of dwelling units subject to the tax. So to first order, this is just a heatmap of where people live, which xkcd coined pet peeve #208.