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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Video Vancouver: Cruel Musical Chairs (or Why Is Rent So High?)

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Video Vancouver

Via Sightline Institute:

How does a growing, prospering city stay affordable for all kinds of people? At the most basic level, when there aren’t enough homes, prices will keep rising. And when there are plenty of homes, it helps prices stay down.

It’s like a huge game of musical chairs. If there aren’t enough chairs when the music stops, someone is left out. When there aren’t enough homes for people who live and work in a city, everybody has to compete for what’s available and the rents go up until people are priced out. In the housing market, instead of being fast, you just need to be rich to stay in the game.

To fix it, we need more homes in all shapes and sizes. That means more cottages, apartments, duplexes, triplexes, condos, and mother-in-law units. More homes allows more people to stay and thrive in their communities. It means more people can afford to live near jobs, great schools, and transit.

Encouraging a variety of homes that fit a variety of people’s needs isn’t the only solution to keep rent and home prices down but it’s an essential foundation for affordability, the necessary building block on which all kinds of other community protections, anti-displacement measures, and neighborhood investments are built.

Our new explainer video gives a simple illustration to think about how building more homes helps keep prices down. Enjoy!


One comment

  1. I really enjoyed your video, and I agree, you absolutely need more supply in the market to house the people that want to live in the city! Housing became affordable to the middle class in the first place in North America because the government subsidized large scale housing construction to accommodate the amount of people that needed homes. This made housing affordable for most people in the country. Back then, the government allowed more houses to be put on the market to make them affordable. Since the amount of houses on the market made them affordable back then, adding supply would make housing more affordable today too!

    I would like to add on to your point, too. You mentioned that we need all kinds of houses in the city. Housing styles that seem to be neglected in general but that would be useful to have on the market are multi-bedroom condo units large enough to fit families in. I’m assuming that many people buy single-family homes because there’s just not enough room in the small condos that are being built to house their whole family! If there was a large supply of larger units on the market, the situation might be different.