The housing crisis in Canada has been decades of policy failures in the making arguably starting in the 90s when the federal government stopped building housing for people. Now, the housing crisis has grown to the point where one of Canada’s largest banks is calling for socialized housing to be built again. This means building house for people who are so priced out of the market that renting is hard for them due to the downward pressures from wealthy home buyers.The bank also calls for other measures to be taken, as with most things, there isn’t one simple solution.
There is a case to critically consider next-best approach(es) to non-market housing across the country. There are many learnings to be leveraged from crowding private capital into affordable housing and there is still much more to be done in that ‘middle market’. This is essential but insufficient. The largely scathing OAG report on basic access to housing suggests we have neither adequate governance frameworks nor the tools at present to address the magnitude of the challenges at the acute end of the housing continuum.
Canada needs a more ambitious, urgent and well-resourced strategy to expand its social housing infrastructure. Aims to double the stock of social housing across the country could be a start. This would bring Canada just in line with OECD (and G7) averages, but well- below some European and Nordic markets. There is no particular magic behind this number: bringing the stock to 1.3 mn dwellings would not fully close gaps. But it signals far more ambition than the 150 k incremental units targeted under the National Housing Strategy with the bulk of its efforts focused on keeping the current count whole.
When markets fail people, then the people need to replace the market. Ir, to put it more directly: when a profitable grocery store isn’t profitable enough for a company then small towns need to buy that grocery store and turn it into a publicly owned asset which keeps the community alive. That’s what small towns in the USA are starting to do. By saving their local, downtown, grocery stores they keep people employed, returning to the town, and overall make life easier for everyone. The future of America might be the small box store.
The city hadn’t had a full-scale grocery store since 1985, and Giefer decided to change that. In 2008, he used city funding to get a new store, St. Paul Supermarket, off the ground. In 2013, when the couple who ran the store was staring down retirement, Giefer convinced the city to buy it outright.
In 2019, Schoenhofer drove to St. Paul to meet with that city’s clerk, who gave her some tips. The experiment, Schoenhofer found, had been a success. The St. Paul grocery employs ~15 people, and it turns a profit of 3%, slightly better than the average for rural grocery stores.
It has also kept people — and spending money — in town. Similarly, in Erie, residents show up to Erie Market for fresh lunches, like a BBQ pulled-pork sandwich or a taco on Taco Tuesday.
In cities all over the world housing people is an issue and some cities have it worse than others. In Berlin, where things weren’t awful they decided they waned to stop a downward trend that cropped up in the rental market. Renters were confronted with a market that was inhumane and the city took action.
Barely a month after the German capital introduced a new set of rules that limits rent increases within a given area, figures collected byÂ ImmobilienScout24Â show that the average cost of new Berlin rental contracts has dropped 3.1 percent within a month. This canâ€™t be written off as an example of a general countrywide downward trend. In other German cities where such laws havenâ€™t yet been introduced, rents have remained more or less static. This is good news for the legislators of Berlinâ€™s Senate as their new law is doingÂ exactly what they promisedÂ the electorate that it would.
The new law introduced on June 1stâ€”called theÂ mietpreisbremseÂ or â€œrental price brakeâ€ in Germanâ€”works like this. An overseeing body fixes a standard median rent per square meter for each city district, using figures based a biennial state census of rents. No new rental contract within the district is then permitted to charge over 10 percent more than this amount. This still means that price increases for new rentals are possible, but if they come, they happen far more slowly.