This post responds to a misconception about rental housing that has been making the rounds. Our housing crisis is fundamentally a rental crisis, so it’s important to keep the numbers straight so that we can better focus our energy and resources. The misconception originate from the 2019 Vancouver Housing Data Book. The data book is a huge effort to compile and has a host of valuable information. Vancouver has been doing this for the second year now, and it is successively getting better.
A number I have been watching fairly closely is the job vacancy rate. It comes from StatCan’s Job Vacancy and Wage Survey (JVWS), and is updated quarterly. It is one of several surveys that complement the Labour Force Survey (LFS) that tends to receive a lot of attention. But the LFS is missing some important aspects of the labour market. I have been pushing JVWS data on numerous occasions, so I wanted to do a quick post to add a little more context.
Canada’s metropolitan areas are growing, which means we need to add housing. But adding housing often faces stiff oppositions. There are many reasons people don’t like to add housing, this post is trying to look at one particular one. That adding housing causes displacement of the low-income population. Adding new housing to a neighbourhood has two opposing effects. The gentrification effect starts from the observation that new housing is more expensive than old housing (all else being equal).
(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.
The City of Vancouver has introduced the Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Project, with density bonusing in exchange for 20% of the units renting at about 35% below market. TL;DR MIRHPP is a win-win, it manages to create both, new units that rent significantly below market, as well as market rentals. Both of which are badly needed, paid for with additional density. The allocation mechanism for deciding who gets to rent one of the sub-market units is problematic.