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BC Polling shows that the housing crisis has worsened, and a majority of residents confirm that all levels of government need to enact further measures to fix it - BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU)


May 8, 2024

BC Polling shows that the housing crisis has worsened, and a majority of residents confirm that all levels of government need to enact further measures to fix it  

Support for regulation and public investment in housing remains strong

BURNABY – An updated Research Co. poll shows that as the housing crisis worsened over the last two years, support for progressive policies to advance affordability in BC remained strong, sending a powerful message to governments that a real affordability plan is urgently needed.
Commissioned by the BC General Employees' Union (BCGEU) as part of its Affordable BC Campaign, this week's poll (a follow-up to a 2022 poll) found that half of renters and homeowners are spending more than 30 per cent of their income on shelter. This number is up 11 per cent from 2022 - a rising tide that's stratifying communities by wealth: 

  • 27 per cent of renters say they were forced to move out of their areas in the past five years because they could not afford to stay;
  • And only 17 per cent of renters say they could afford rent for a comparable home in their community if they had to end their current tenancy today. 

"These numbers reflect the underlying affordability crisis that has resulted from rising land values over the past decade," said BCGEU treasurer Paul Finch. "Without meaningful near-term regulation of land prices, rent and mortgage costs will continue to create shortages of skilled workers in the economy from nurses to trades people, and further erode quality of life."

Finch further explained, "land values are dramatically increased, often more than double, by substantive changes in zoning and public infrastructure investment. Instead of passing those windfall profits off to landowners, a portion created by public investment should be re-invested into rapid transit services and affordable housing. While we applaud the province for implementing our policy suggestions on upzoning around transit hubs, the method fails to properly capture the land value increases that have been generated."
The BCGEU is calling for implementation of a land value capture tax and vacancy control. Land value capture would keep land values from rising further while generating needed revenue for affordable housing and public transit. Vacancy control would tie rent to the suite rather than the tenant, an emergency measure which would help preserve some of the last affordable units left on the market. More than three in five respondents agreed that vacancy control is a must, but instead of heeding this call, the provincial government has designed policies and bills to fast-track for-profit housing, with minimal affordability requirements. 

The problem with this approach, said BCGEU executive vice-president Kari Michaels, is that "Market-driven policies don't solve the stark inequity between working people and wealthy investors. They simply maintain the province's reliance on the private market, which is exactly what created the crisis in the first place." 
Nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of respondents confirmed that governments' housing policies have not had a positive effect on affordability in their lives over the last two years, and 73 per cent agree that the provincial government must do more to fix the housing crisis. 
On the BCGEU's 4-pillar policy demands, the poll's findings, include the following: 

  • 61 per cent of people in British Columbia support the policy of vacancy control; 
  • 67 per cent support stronger investments in public housing; 
  • 61 per cent support mandatory municipal inclusionary zoning policies – where a set number of below-market rate housing units are required when properties are up-zoned for development;
  • 46 per cent support land value taxation to recover and reinvest land value increases that result from public investments. 

BCGEU represents close to 90,000 working people across BC who are fighting the cost-of-living crisis by raising the bar for wages in their diverse industries. Members are also organizing their communities to push for more people-centred and creative solutions to housing unaffordability with the BCGEU Affordable BC Campaign.
Click here to learn more about the Affordable BC campaign.

Results are based on an online study conducted from April 29 to May 2, 2024, among 807 adults in British Columbia. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in British Columbia. The margin of error- which measures sample variability-is +/- 3.5 percentage points, nineteen times out of twenty.

Link to Factum
Link to Data Tables