Vancouver’s mansions reflect middle-class housing woes



Vancouver’s multimillion-dollar homes are increasingly out of reach for Vancouverites. And nothing speaks to the Canadian city’s affordability crisis more than its empty houses.
Vacant or temporarily occupied dwellings have more than doubled since 2001 to 66,719 last year as neighborhoods are hollowing out, said Andy Yan, director of Simon Fraser University’s City Program, who analyzed census data for Metro Vancouver released Wednesday. Observers worry the trend will undermine Canada’s fastest-growing regional economy.
Public scrutiny has focused on landlords, particularly from abroad, who park their cash in investment properties where windows remain dark throughout the year. Vancouver introduced a new tax on empty homes last month aimed at boosting the supply of rentals in a city facing a near-zero vacancy rate. The province also imposed a 15 percent tax on foreign buyers last August after discovering more than C$1 billion ($761 million) of global cash had flowed into local properties over a five-week period.
“It’s unacceptable for so much housing to be treated as a commodity,” Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said in a statement.

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