Housing revolution needed

Many of Canada's urban centres have been experiencing a well-known phenomena, the managed escalation of housing prices, creating a glass dome over centers like Southern Ontario, Montreal, Vancouver and even Halifax.

Housing management in Southern Ontario, particularly in Toronto, has been amateurish at best. When an Ontario ministry or media agent needs expertise and direction regarding housing, it is an official from the real estate sector that shows up.

The problem is that housing starts, price increases with extremely low housing stocks are all managed by developers and real estate organizations. Yet it is this sector that does not meet our populations’ requirements and also drives the price of homes in an upward direction.

The scarcity of land in this area is also part of the problem. Developers hold ownership of many land areas that are intended for development but not in the near future.

Canada's housing sector is booming throughout the nation because of the Vancouver - Toronto demand belt. Investors and potential home buyers who cannot afford the $1 million-plus price tag of metropolitan Toronto have gone elsewhere to buy. The process they experienced in Toronto—that of auctions and non-transparent bidding—has come along with them.

A house that cost $125,000 in Halifax now costs more than $300.000 . A home I saw in Thunder Bay on the lakeshore, that cost $188,900, sold recently for twice that amount. The Toronto “fever” is spreading all over the nation and with it the dreaded inflation has shown its face.

The private sector has constantly spoken about a free market within the housing sector, and with it competition that will find a living level within the sector, Yet this system continually drives the price of housing upward. That is because this sector has no real competition from which low-cost, well-made housing can drive the cost of housing downward to an acceptable level.

So it’s competition they want? The competition they should get. Let the governments of Canada get directly involved in the development and building of real affordable housing. Municipal and provincial governments, led by the federal government, should become partners and building leaders to achieve well-made, but affordable apartment buildings, townhomes and even houses.

They would probably buy materials in the same price range as private firms, but the profit levels will be amortized over a very long term.

Present day developers and real estate agencies attempt to achieve near immediate or short term profits at escalated levels.

The methods of sales carried out by many real estate agencies are very close to the methods of flimflam men and women of old. No transparency is offered to bidders and not any real accountability on how the process happens.

Create a large stock of affordable homes and the glass dome may disappear.

The costs can be managed if the various governments in Canada would offer the land plots they own as places to build on. Also, long-term mortgages over 99 years could be arranged. Renters could be offered various options that would ensure occupancy of these properties. Rent to own, with transferable ownership could also be offered. The various properties could offer communal bond options with reasonable interest to bring in revenue. Canadians would be building homes, and not investment opportunities.

Canadians must change the way they imagine housing. Costly homes can be owned by the wealthy, no problem. But a real affordable housing sector must be created.

More homes would be made and more people employed.

A housing revolution is required in Canada.

Steven Kaszab, Bradford, Ontario

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