On Millionaires Amazed by Poverty and Making Every Debate on Rentals Toxic

Tea & Two Slices is a long-running local news round-up by NEEDS frontman and veteran dishwasher Sean Orr, who lives and works in Gastown, deeply aware of his privilege.

Councillor Jean Swanson wants to get rental housing ‘out of the market’. “The impasse by some Vancouver city councillors over market rental housing increasingly appears to centre around differences in ideology”. Wow, no shit. Except the people who are most ideological are the people who believe in the status-quo; the omni-benevolent power of the market to solve the crisis it has only ever profited from. “To date, Swanson has voted against every single market rental housing proposal — nine projects totalling nearly 450 units — brought forward to council”. This is just a hint of the gaslighting that emanates from the toxic dialogue in #vanre on Twitter and Facebook.

It’s actually pretty simple. 1: The goal of market redevelopment is to increase value for investors, not to provide housing. 2: There are more middle income units than low income units. 3: There aren’t enough middle income earners because our wages are divorced from the market. 4: Increasing supply at the top level does zero for affordability. 5: Social housing is better competition for market housing than more market housing. 6: The argument that voting against supply for the middle class is bad for affordability is absurd.

Why, for example, would middle income people be forced to rent cheap units when the cheap units barely exist? By what mechanism will middle income people automatically choose to pay more for rent? By what mechanism do you prevent landlords from jacking up the rents once they leave?

Portraying Swanson as some anti-rental ideologue, “grounded in misguided beliefs and a failure to accept the economic realities of the costs and risks — as well as the laws of supply and demand economics — associated with building market rental housing in our market-based economy and society”, as the author does here, is rooted in a type of Stockholm Syndrome to our capitalist overlords. That this amount of vitriol is being spent on a motion that passed is telling about who the real ideologues are.

Spoiler: It’s the supplyists. Like this guy, head of Abundant Housing Vancouver (a developer front group), whose feelings about renters are already well established…

Anyway, I’ll leave you with the best comment:

The only thing that trickles down from the top is oppression. But in upside down Vancouver, the oppressors are the actual victims: Following a shooting, Vancouver police don’t feel safe on their own in Oppenheimer Park. “On Wednesday, a police officer was assaulted as she tried to assist city crews working to keep the park clean…” Translation: After decades of verbal and physical aggression and intimidation by city workers and VPD, a cop tried to throw someone’s personal belongings in the dump truck and got decked for it.

Then there’s the flip side. ‘We didn’t know there was a ghetto’: NBA star says car broken into in Vancouver. ‘Millionaire didn’t know there was inequality’. There, I fixed it for you. Heads up, Danny. There’s a Skid Row in Los Angeles, too.

World class city: Canada Line is a model example of a poorly-designed, under-built toy train. Ah yes, pushed through ahead of the more densely populated Evergreen Line to appease the IOC for the 2010 Olympics; routed down Cambie for maximum redevelopment potential despite an already built rail line; switched to cut-and-cover that all but destroyed Cambie Village; built by non-unionized foreign workers making $3.89 an hour by a company that made bullets for the Iraq War (and was embroiled in international scandal); that doesn’t work in the snow; is now almost at capacity? Sounds about right.

As terribly planned the Canada Line was, maybe Translink has started to act with a little forethought:


Related: The climate crisis: These are Canada’s worst-case scenarios.

North Vancouver man charged in cyclist’s ‘dooring’ death. Start doing the Dutch Reach.

There are 7 comments

  1. Absofuckinglutely. The other and perhaps bigger reason they routed the Canada Line down Cambie instead of Arbutus corridor is that the NIMBYS on the west side vocally opposed increasing traffic into their hoods.

  2. I moved to the Penticton area with a tour of Kelowna’s Union Gospel shelter…ain’t it funny DTES exists there too. Even Penticton there was a push to keep homeless from sitting/sleeping in downtown area. Bylaw passed…disgusting. As for housing…well it’s got more projects than Maple Ridge for supportive housing and modulars coming this Sept. Still not enough affordable housing. I got a one bdrm, outside Penticton in an old motel. I pay $700. Utilities included. However…it requires that I drive everywhere! So higher transportation costs..the pay off for me is that my calling is in outreach and support. I wanted a private life away from those I serve. This allows me that freedom. Often those involved in advocacy are also targets for a wide variety of ppl. Ppl who believe in your values may be welcoming but often name calling and bullying tactics are tried. Jean Swanson is my role model and I believe her heart song is loud! Now just get deaf ears fixed and affordable housing might become a reality for all!

  3. Bravo for boldly speaking the truth. Jean Swanson is the living inspiration of my values, a torchbearer for the creation of a humane government. Thank you Jean!

  4. Swanson wants existing taxpayers – many of who who are already struggling with all sorts of costs, including their own housing – to subsidize new housing for others. Zero traction. In the mean time, she kills housing. This is the work of a sociopath.

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