(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.
Another “working paper” on Vancouver’s real estate woes came out, this one by Josh Gordon. We have been contemplating for a week now if it is worth responding to, but after seeing one too many obviously false statements about what the working paper supposedly shows making the rounds, we felt the benefits of addressing this might outweigh the costs of further entrenching the camps in Vancouver’s real estate debates with this post.
Zombie attack! Zombies fleeing Vancouver want to eat your brain… drain… or something. A couple of weeks ago The Canadian Press reported a story asserting that young professionals were leaving Vancouver because of the high cost of housing. This fits in with a common zombie refrain that we hear from the media. It’s a story that just won’t die, no matter how many times it’s proven wrong: Millennials, or young people, or boomers, or people important for some other reason are leaving Vancouver because of housing.
Now three people have asked me about the purported explosion of Canadians 18 and over in Downtown Vancouver, and in particular the claim that eligible voters in the Downtown and West End grew by a combined 70%. And I had to explain three times that while that population grew strongly, it grew by much less than reported. In fact, the number of Canadian citizens 18 years and older in the downtown peninsula only grew by 17.
Down south of the border, a politician who shall remain nameless campaigned on “draining the swamp” of Washington D.C., trafficked in countless conspiracies, and lied his way into office. His lies painted a picture of a United States turned dark, corrupt and menacing. He promised to fix it, Making American Great Again, mostly by shutting down globalization and kicking out the immigrants. In Canada, we like to think we’re immune to this kind of rhetoric.