VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Dozens gathered at Jack Poole Plaza in Downtown Vancouver this afternoon to send a message about the ongoing affordability crisis.
Carrying signs and banners, many voiced their concerns about being “squeezed out” because of how bad the housing and rental markets have gotten.
Paolo Succi says he can’t see himself owning property in Metro Vancouver in the near future.
“And then it trickles down into our lives in the form of rentals,” Succi says. “We’re paying an insane amount, like half our income every month goes towards a roof over our heads.”
As young people just starting off their careers, Succi says it’s difficult to just try and get a foot in the door with rising rental and living costs. “Pretty terrible. I mean I can understand in a sensible market where these are natural market forces, but the fact that it’s happening because of speculative investments from overseas is really frustrating for us. We want to be part of the community, and it’s actively pushing us out of it.”
Another man tells NEWS 1130 he was renovicted a year ago and struggled to find something he could afford in Vancouver. As someone who runs a daycare, he says he can afford a lot of things, but couldn’t find something he could pay for. “I was faced with ‘what’s the next step? Do I leave Vancouver, which I love?'” he says.
At 55 years old, he says his only option to stay in the city was to get a roommate in a one-bedroom apartment. He says the idea of being pushed out by a market that he can’t afford is just awful. “People need to live here to work and do the jobs that don’t pay a lot of money and in my position, my job, it’s really hard to find staff now.”
Emma is 15 years old and says she’s worried about her future. “I’m beginning to realize that if something doesn’t change, I won’t be able to live here any more. It’s definitely worrying.”
She’s calling on the government to step up and make a change, before it’s too late. Emma also wants other young people to step up and educate themselves on the ongoing issues. “Otherwise we’ll have to leave where we grew up, and that’s definitely a scary thought to think that we might not have a choice of living where we grew up.”
Those with the Affordability Action Hub say they’re looking for movement on four points: housing affordability, housing security, eliminating legal loopholes exploited by speculators, and increasing supply.
The group’s Christina Gower feels the affordability crisis is starting to have consequences on the local economy.
“In Downtown Vancouver, the businesses can’t hire people that are low-paying wages that ordinarily are able to live in the city and they can’t anymore and businesses are folding because of property taxes and [they’re] not able to open because they don’t have staff and really our communities are dying.”
The rally comes two days ahead of the provincial budget, which Gower hopes fills in some of the blanks left in the Throne Speech, when it comes to housing.
“What we’ve done with our group basically is begin to develop an umbrella group under which all housing advocates can network and try and make a stronger voice, so that the government really understands that we need to act immediately, very swiftly, on this housing crisis.”
“We are in this together. We are not 100 per cent all affected in this province yet, but it could work out that we are and we need to prevent that and reverse some of the problems that we’re having.”