Election 2021

Affordable housing in Lethbridge

I received the following question from a voter and thought I’d share it with you, as well as share my response.

I know you stand with working Albertans and for those facing challenges. could you tell me your stance regarding the housing shortage and inaccessible real estate? prices are sky-high, there is too much speculation. Homes are often out of reach for regular wage earners, this contributes greatly to other social issues like poverty and homelessness. I’m sure you are familiar with the issues, what are your ideas for solutions? Will you make it a priority in the House of Commons? At this point, this is the deciding factor for us, we will support the party or politician who will be outspoken about speculation, foreign investment, empty homes, high rents, money laundering and real estate hoarding. I know this can be a risky and polarizing issue for politicians, that is why it is rarely mentioned. But inadequate/unaffordable housing is a challenge for most younger Canadians and a contributing factor to poverty and crime. I know the main parties are only talking the talk about this issue, real change will have to come from real, working Canadian grassroots. Please let me know what your thoughts on this issue are.

Thanks for reaching out. I empathize with the inaccessibility of housing.

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Lethbridge has the most unaffordable rental costs in Alberta. If we hadn’t purchased our house before the 2006 boom, we wouldn’t have been able to buy at all. And even then, we ended up having to buy a 798 sq ft house that was 100 years old and had a dirt basement.

Without party affiliation, I’ll be limited in what policies or proposals I’ll be able to put forth, but I’m definitely willing to support policies and proposals put forward by other parties that address housing inaccessibility, including foreign ownership, rent ceilings, etc. I would also support additional taxation on rental properties (not primary residences), and using that funding to support programmes that get people into homes (whether that’s creating more rental stock or helping people get mortgages).

Part of the problem, as well, is that for the last 40 years, Canada has built fewer and fewer social housing units, going from over 30,000 new units in 1972 to less than 3,000 in 2010.

Taken from St. Denis, Jen. 11 May 2020. “No Escape: The Human Cost of Making Social Housing Scarce”, The Tyee.

Relying primarily on the private market for affordable housing will always result in inadequate affordable housing.

And even so, I would absolutely be willing to use some of the time I have in the House of Commons to pressure the government on improving housing needs in the Lethbridge area.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

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