Vancouver Would Be Cooler If is a column that advocates for things that exist in other cities that could serve to improve or otherwise celebrate life in our own.
(via) The city of Barcelona’s housing department is not playing games when it comes to increasing its housing stock. We wish our own leaders would take note and start acting as if they truly understood that homes need to house people first and are investment vehicles second. From Bloomberg’s City Lab:
This week, the city’s housing department wrote to 14 companies that collectively own 194 empty apartments, warning that if they haven’t found a tenant within the next month, the city could take possession of these properties, with compensation at half their market value. These units would then be rented out by the city as public housing to lower-income tenants, while the companies in question could also face possible fines of between €90,000 and €900,000 ($103,000 and $1,003,000), according to Spanish news outlets. […] In Barcelona, another 232 empty homes have been identified as the next targets for the program. Meanwhile, the city is seeking to persuade Catalonia’s regional authority to make the program even more expansive, by allowing forced sale of properties after just six months of vacancy, rather than two years.
It would be tempting to decry any such move in Vancouver as irredeemably socialist and a bridge too far for local government, but in 2020 those arguments are sounding less and less like the familiar, rational defences of free market capitalists and more and more like the plaintive whimpers of those who don’t care to acknowledge how serious the situation has become or how dangerous it can actually get.