B.C.'s fastest growing union launches housing affordability plan
Following the launch of a campaign on housing affordability earlier this month, the B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) has released a report detailing recommendations on how the province can solve the housing affordability crisis.
The Building an Affordable B.C. report provides recommendations aimed at tackling the root of the housing crisis: speculation on the part of financial institutions and wealthy investors in the housing market.
The report's recommendations include three broad goals:
- Reforming property taxes to target speculators and raise funds for affordable housing and infrastructure.
- Amending legislation to protect renters and better regulate real estate transactions.
- Investing in new affordable public housing and infrastructure.
This report is part of a larger campaign by the BCGEU to tackle housing affordability in B.C. Two weeks ago, the union launched www.affordablebc.ca, which includes a petition calling on Premier John Horgan to implement these recommendations. The petition has over 1,800 signatures as of November 20.
"Every day more and more BCGEU members find it increasingly difficult to live in their communities," says BCGEU president Stephanie Smith. "The rising cost of housing is forcing many to leave their communities, while others are leaving the province altogether. We need to do something before our communities are hollowed out."
B.C. has become the most expensive province to buy or rent a home in Canada. The average home price in B.C. is now close to $694,000. While the crisis is felt most acutely in B.C.'s largest cities, this crisis is affecting communities across the province.
Earlier this year, Vancouver was named North America's least affordable city, ranking above cities like San Francisco and Manhattan. The median home in Vancouver now costs 17.3 times the median annual household income.
At the BCGEU's 50th Constitutional Convention in June, members passed multiple resolutions calling for action on housing affordability, and this campaign was developed and launched as a result of that action.
"Wages can no longer keep up with the rising cost of living," says BCGEU treasurer Paul Finch. "No realistic wage increase can make up for the extra costs our members are paying in housing, which means that the most effective way for BCGEU members to protect their incomes - and those of all working people - is to work towards the stabilization of housing prices and creation of more affordable rental units."
The full report can be downloaded at www.affordablebc.ca/our-plan
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