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Urban Planning + Architecture

What’s Up with Rents? And How Can We Bring Them Down?

A new video asks: What if we treated housing less like bitcoin and more like a gym membership?

Christopher Cheung 8 Jul

Christopher Cheung reports on urban issues for The Tyee. Follow him on Twitter at @bychrischeung.

Never before has our housing crisis been explained with so many jokes and jazzy hip-hop.

We all know rents are skyrocketing, but the reasons why can be a bit wonky. Thank goodness for About Here and Urbanarium for their latest video production, distilling why the financialization of housing has made renting increasingly expensive and insecure.

You might remember host Uytae Lee, the urban planning grad with a camera who cranks out city-building videos with Scorsese-like energy.

We previously featured his video on the “missing middle mystery,” explaining why Metro Vancouver has a lot of houses and towers but little in between.

Check out the latest production below, which asks: “Can we rent our way out of the housing crisis?”

Lee walks us through why developers historically preferred building condos and selling them off.

We learn that almost half of condos in Vancouver — 46 per cent — are actually rented out, meaning that their owners hang on to them as investment properties.

Nearby cities of late are offering all sorts of incentives to developers willing to build purpose-built rental housing. But affordability still remains elusive, says Lee.

Why? In Canada, government subsidies for owners, easier mortgages, strict zoning, speculators big and small, and gaps in our social safety net all play a role.

In short, says Lee, “housing is now akin to buying a stock or Bitcoin.”  [Tyee]

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