Aug. 20, 2022

Governments need to look in the mirror on housing affordability

When confronted by a problem it's human nature to blame others and too often that blame is misplaced.

Homelessness is a major problem in our province. CTV reported a recent poll found nearly three-quarters of British Columbians believe that, but significantly fewer say it's a major problem in their neighbourhoods.

The online survey of 800 B.C. residents found substantial frustration with all levels of government when it comes to addressing homelessness in the province.

And not surprisingly, governments point the finger in a different direction, never recognizing that they are the problem in large part.

Our member of Parliament Lisa Marie Barron and NDP housing critic Jenny Kwan met with local advocates and apportioned blame for the problem. The culprits in their eyes are those who build rental housing and want a return on their investments. Government has an immense financial impact on affordability.

It’s hypocritical for governments to lay the blame at everyone except themselves.

When you build a new house, who’s at the front of the line with the hand out demanding a payoff? The federal government wants it’s cut with the Goods and Services Tax. That’s added to the selling price.

Even more egregious is the provincial Property Transfer Tax which is applied to every property sale, old and new. It’s one per cent on the first $200,000 of the selling price, and an additional two per cent on the remainder. In today’s market it’s not that crazy anymore to use $800,000 as a benchmark price of a house. That adds $14,000 to the cost of buying a home, paid at the time of the transaction.

Talk about the challenge of qualifying for a mortgage. With 20 per cent down payment up front, that means you have to have $200,000 in your jeans. Then add that Property Transfer tax, also up front, and it prices untold numbers of people out of the market.

It’s the old story ­– when you don’t have the answers, blame someone else. It’s time to look in the mirror.