Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the federal government’s National Housing Strategy and the proposed human rights-based approach to housing. I live and work in Vancouver, BC where the housing crisis is arguably the most acute. My comments will thus reflect a Vancouver and BC perspective, and are based on research I have done on the housing system as an economist for the BC Office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.1
For a growing number of Canadians, particularly those in large cities like Metro Vancouver, the housing market is broken. At its core, this is a problem of financialization—the treatment by many actors of housing primarily as an investment, rather than a place to live. The current discussion of housing as a human right should challenge that proposition. In particular, I would like to comment on two core aspects of the National Housing Strategy, both of which need to be shored up: a major build-out of non-market housing; and a more coherent housing and income support in the form of the Canada Housing Benefit.