August 17th, 2022
Financialization of housing market leaves Canadians feeling hopeless about home ownership
New Democrat MPs meet with Nanaimo organizations to discuss solutions for affordable housing
NANAIMO – Nanaimo-Ladysmith Member of Parliament, Lisa Marie Barron, and NDP Housing Critic, MP Jenny Kwan, are calling on the government to help Canadians struggling to afford a safe place to call home. On Friday, the MPs will be meeting with local organizations to discuss the challenges and solutions for affordable housing.
“I see first-hand the impacts of unaffordable and inaccessible housing in my riding. I am often asked by my constituents, “when did we forget that housing is a basic human right, not a financial commodity for investors?” says MP Barron. “I am hearing from young families that have little hope of ever purchasing their first home, hard-working members of my riding who have lost their homes as a result of job insecurity, and seniors living off low income struggling to pay rent.”
MP Kwan says the financialization of the housing market began shortly after the federal government abandoned the national housing program in 1993. Since then, large corporations and wealthy investors with real estate investment trusts (REITs) have been purchasing massive stocks of apartment buildings that were once affordable rentals and transforming them into products for financial investment.
REITs alone have grown from owning zero residential units in apartment buildings in 1996, to nearly 200,000 in the year 2020. In total, the largest 25 financial landlords held about 330,000 suites last year, which is nearly 20% of the country's private purpose-built stock of rental apartments.
New Democrat MPs have been fighting the federal government to address the financialization of housing and to offer constructive proposals, such as:
- Placing a moratorium on the acquisition of affordable homes by REITs and other corporate landlords who are making big profits while driving up costs and renovicting Canadians.
- Changing how REITs are taxed since the tax code currently rewards investors for jacking up housing prices. Already, the seven largest apartment-owning REITs in Canada have saved a combined $1.5 billion through federal tax loopholes.
- Developing a federal non-profit acquisition fund to allow not-for-profit co-op or land trust organizations to purchase at-risk rental buildings when they come on the market. This will ensure wealthy investors can't monopolize the supply of affordable rental units.
“Canada is faced with a housing crisis and we have to address this issue,” says MP Kwan. “The cost of a home in Canada has increased faster than it has in any other country in the G7. Canadians cannot find a home they can afford, and they want solutions, not excuses. The government must act now.”