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On Pearl Clutching, Gaslighting, and Housing Supply vs. Housing Affordability

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.

Vancouver’s population decreases for first time in 45 years. I assume that this doesn’t take into account the deaths from the heat dome, or deaths of people with no fixed address, not to mention the record numbers of opioid overdose deaths. So what does the article attribute the drop in numbers to? Lack of housing supply. Is not wanting to pay 2 million for something you could get for half in Surrey a supply problem? It seems more like an affordability problem. Besides, “Vancouver has added more housing units per capita than any city in North America over the last 30 years, yet housing prices have increased faster in Vancouver than any other North American city”.

Even the Bank of Canada, an unelected body that sets monetary policy for the entire country and whose fundamental interest lies in not lowering home prices blames lack of supply instead of lowering interest rates. Not: The financialization of housing, artificially low interest rates, low property tax, criminally low wages, bad zoning, zero land value capture, unchecked speculation, no capital-gains tax on primary residences, underregulated short-term rentals, a corrupt self-regulating real estate industry long known for shadow flipping and exploiting bare trust loopholes, REITS buying up rental stock, crumbling social housing stock, disappearing co-ops, no vacancy control, the fact that BC is the eviction capital of Canada, or that In Vancouver and Toronto, as many as 1 in 5 homeowners own more than one property, or the fact that the feds have been downloading housing responsibilities onto cash-strapped provinces since the 1990s. Nah let’s blame lack of supply even though Canada has over 1.3 million vacant homes. I’ve said it before: this was all easily predictable.

Pearl clutchers on Twitter and Reddit are even blaming this mass exodus on rising crime. One problem: according to VPD data, crime is down – Crime continued to plummet in Vancouver in 2021. Of course, as Justin McElroy points out, the data doesn’t account for localized experience, but it does mean that there has been no change in the status quo. We still refuse to tackle the root causes of crime: the long slow march of neoliberal austerity politics hollowing out our institutions, decimating our social safety net, putting the onus on personal responsibility and weakening our communities.

You can see it in how we are dealing with the pandemic. We are gaslit by the authorities. Betrayed. And told to do more while they admit to doing the least amount possible:



You can see it in Bell Let’s Talk, an insidious corporate tax write off from a company that profits off the suffering of inmates. The only reason Bell has this role is because our governments handed them the torch, abandoning Canadians.

You can see it in how we treat our seniors: Seniors in Vancouver’s Chinatown are battling poverty and racism to put food on the table.

We can’t keep relying on charity to cover up for our government’s failures:

This kind of neglect manifests in deep-seeded resentment that can either lead to the strengthening of our communities through organizing and outreach, like the examples above, or it could go drastically the opposite way, like we’re seeing with the trucker convoy (is fear and mistrust being used as a grift to further extremist, separatist agenda: $4M in fundraising frozen by GoFundMe days after trucker convoy leaves Vancouver. The hashtag #flutruxklan really says it all.

That $4M could go a long way to repairing our broken healthcare system. All you can do is laugh at the “Karen Convoy”: Unvaccinated truckers demand Canada’s government change US government’s rules on unvaccinated truckers.

Same with the state of Vancouver council I guess. ICYMI: Prank caller goes Bart Simpson on Vancouver City Council housing meeting.

Meanwhile this reporter is all of us right now:

There are 2 comments

  1. This video gives a good explanation as to why that “1.3 million empty homes” figure might be a little sensationalized:


    Not saying that I disagree with the idea that there’s more going on with Vancouver real estate than supply issues mind you.

  2. Please desist from commenting on housing, providing a laundry list of topics over last decade is fraudulent support for blatant fake news; “pay for something you could get for half in Surrey.”

    Anyone who follows that industry has been easily made aware that we’ve clearly moved into regional ‘price parity.’ Lookitup.

    Over two years ago (Oct 2019), on the eve of the pandemic, SFD price difference between Greater Van and Fraser Valley was $275k. Oct 2021 narrowed that to less than $150k. A few months ago, benchmark home price in New West was $750k, LOWER than Chilliwack ($800k).

    Two months ago, costed nearly same to buy a detached house in East Van (at $1.71 million), or North Burnaby ($1.74 mm), as in South Surrey-White Rock ($1.76 mm). Homeowners reluctant to list because their exit strategy is limited; pointless to downsize or upgrade to a place 30 – 60 kms away when the home prices are nearly identical. The option now is move to Van Island or the Okanagan. Hence Van pop is declin … oh never mind.

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