Rising property prices have pushed home ownership out of reach of many people, especially those starting out. And it's not any easier for renters, who pay inflated costs based on a property's rising value. Last week, The Globe and Mail reported on a study that showed one in five Canadian renters face an affordable housing crisis and are spending more than half of their income to keep a roof over their heads. The study also showed that this was not just a problem in the downtown core of Canada's cities, but even more acute in the outlying suburbs and smaller cities (Read that article here). Globe readers were quick to chime in with their own thoughts. The following are some highlights:
One reader said the article raises questions about how well off we are in Canada:
"According to the article … 20 per cent [of renters] are paying half their income just for rent. It becomes akin to slavery when working people can get little more for their labour than a rented roof over their heads, and possibly three square meals a day. Tell me again about how wealthy Canadians are."
That comment sparked many responses, including this one:
"Housing is up for everyone, not just renters. I know people who own and pay more than 50 per cent of their income toward their house. This is a new phenomenon, so get used to it. First World countries will keep getting more expensive as everyone in the world is trying to move to them. As population increases so does the the demand."
Another reader placed blame at the feet of cities and municipalities that restricted building zones and left behind a housing crisis:
"The unaffordability crisis is not just a crisis for low-wage earners, but also includes, in many parts of Canada, middle-income earners who can't afford to buy a family home. The biggest frustration is this crisis has been created artificially and deliberately by local authorities restricting housing development leading to lack of supply. Calgary is a classic example where there is effectively unlimited land around the city yet there is a massive shortage of zoned housing land."
Another reader noted how much affordability has changed in the past two decades:
"In the late nineties, a musician and a yoga teacher with two kids could afford to buy a house in downtown Toronto. Then things began to change. The Benz's and BMW's moved into our neighbourhood. I have no idea how young people who need to live in a big city can afford it."
Another reader said the housing market will improve if governments get out of it:
"If market forces are left to deal with this issue, it will find an equilibrium. It is when governments get significantly involved that issues like this persist. Spending half your income on rent and utilities is not the end of the world. That leaves half for food, clothing and entertainment. Suck it up or do something different. The world does not owe anyone a living!"
Another reader said renters have to pay based on the price of real estate, which is much higher now, and that keeping rents low just stops building of new housing:
"It baffles me that renters feel they should be immune to the rising cost of real estate. Ask anyone who has bought a house recently … they are paying more than they did previously because the acquisition costs are higher. I'm further perplexed by the logic of those who feel that if we have a broad social problem with renter affordability, the solution should be borne by landlords. If this is a societal issue, shouldn't it be addressed by the population at large through general tax revenue? Suppressing rents is what has got us to the point that virtually no new rental stock has been built for the past 30 years. Time to rethink that if you want more rental stock. If there were a couple of thousand empty rental units begging for occupants, you can bet that rents would be coming down."