THE HOUSING STATUS QUO IS A DISASTER.
The housing shortage is the overall number one issue on the doorstep, without any doubt. I’ve door-knocked in a wide variety of neighbourhoods across Victoria, at co-ops, rentals, single family, duplex, triplex, quadruplex, townhouses – and it’s clear.
I’ve spoken with many workers and families who want to continue to live in Victoria, but are being priced out. Some are moving to the suburbs, though prices are now also very high there. Some are moving out of the province entirely. I can’t say I blame them, although I wish they could stay.
I’ve also met parents with adult children living in their homes, and they see no way for their kids to afford a place in the foreseeable future. Their working-adult children are going to continue to live with them indefinitely. That could happen with my teenagers too.
I’ve met many renters who live in fear that they will be evicted because, for example, their “landlord’s niece may need to move in for a bit.” And I’ve heard about nieces changing their minds after the tenants are gone, and I’ve heard about rents being jacked up.
Victoria needs to do better. The status quo is not working.
We need more housing. We especially need more affordable housing. We need rental housing, especially purpose-built rental (where people aren’t going to be thrown out for the niece).
But our housing conversation is unfortunately mired in the Missing Middle Housing Initiative (MMHI) – despite the fact that it’s only one piece of a much larger set of housing problems and policies. Despite the fact that we have a desperately low rental vacancy rate. And despite the fact that the majority of Victoria residents live in homes that are not even where missing middle homes could be built.
On September 1, City Council will – once again – be considering MMHI, and they need to make a decision this time, and not punt it again. We cannot afford to let our entire housing policy discourse slide because of an obsession with MMHI.
As I mentioned before, MMHI is not perfect policy. It’s over-loaded with compromises and complexity.
And as I’ve also mentioned before, we all pay (both owners and renters pay) City Council to do their job. Some Council members like MMHI, and some don’t. Fine — then vote accordingly.
Council members need to have the courage to do their jobs. Vote yes or no on MMHI, and let us get on with addressing the many other housing problems, which frankly are every bit as important and much more urgent.