On September 7th, I participated in the National Housing Debate hosted by Vote Housing. This debate was very relevant to Nanaimo-Ladysmith, where the housing affordability and homelessness crisis is local and personal.
I am passionate about this issue because skyrocketing rents have pushed hundreds of people into homelessness and thousands more to the brink. Many more are paying much higher rent than they can sustainably afford, living in overcrowded and substandard conditions, or being pushed out of our communities and away from their families. And more and more people, particularly young people, are being forced out of ever being able to buy their own home.
This is why pushing for solutions to the housing affordability and homelessness crisis has been one of my top priorities over the past two years as MP. My parliamentary motion on housing affordability became the basis of the Green Party’s platform on housing, and it also influenced the election platforms of other parties. Patrick Condon, one of the top researchers and writers on the issue of housing affordability in Canada, recently endorsed me based on my record.
"Paul Manly and the Green Party of Canada have the only effective platform on housing. Only the Greens correctly attack the real problem - out of control urban land price inflation - with a practical antidote. Support for non-market housing. Quality homes for wage earning families at prices they can afford." - Patrick Condon, Professor and author of Sick City: Disease, Race, Inequality and Urban Land
No one in parliament was focused on the problems with big money in residential real estate until I started talking about it. In January, I asked the government during Question Period to introduce strong regulations to stop the predatory investment practices that are making housing in Canada unaffordable. I requested an emergency debate on the topic in February, and have spoken about the issue many times since in the House of Commons.
Currently, big corporate landlords and huge real estate investment trusts are buying up affordable housing and flipping it to more expensive market rate housing. We are losing affordable units faster than we can build them. This is why simply building affordable housing isn’t enough.
It is clear that the housing market needs strong regulation against predatory investment, tax evasion, and money laundering. We also need to implement national standards for rent and vacancy control to remove incentives for these predatory practices. And we need to protect existing affordable housing by buying up what is left and turning it over to non-profit and cooperative housing organizations.
Another way to secure affordable housing is for the federal government to provide incentives to municipalities to specifically zone for long-term affordability. This would stop land speculation in targeted areas so that non-profits and cooperative housing developers are not competing against corporate interests.
It’s important to recognize that this crisis does not impact all members of our communities equally. People who are marginalized and living on fixed incomes - including Indigenous people, people of colour, people with diverse abilities, low income seniors and single parent families - face greater challenges to securing safe, long-term affordable housing.
I have been advocating for housing models that are targeted and appropriate for these groups. Examples include culturally appropriate ‘for Indigenous, by Indigenous’ housing, supportive housing with targeted services, inclusive communities in co-op housing, and non-profit housing that creates mixed communities and also provides special support for seniors and people with diverse abilities.
I have also been actively working with local agencies, the Nanaimo Homlessness Coalition, and the municipalities to make them aware of federal funding opportunities and provide letters of support.
Ending the crisis will require the political will to take a series of actions across the board. I am committed to continue fighting for real solutions, because that's what people in Nanaimo-Ladysmith, and people all across Canada deserve.