featured Poverty

Danny Cavanagh: Housing reality, the market and homelessness

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Imagine that you’re paying rent and you have been told you need to move out because the place will be renovated. You go to the bank to see about buying a home. The bank says no to a mortgage even though the rent payment is higher than a mortgage payment. This is happening far too often.

A renovation could simply be a paint job, but it gives the landlord a reason to get a current tenant out and charge more for the same unit to a new tenant. The debate lately is swirling around the lack of affordable rental units.

Big rent increases are placed on units as more and more people get evicted in the name of renovation.  Having a town or city with hundreds of people on the streets isn’t the answer.

Maybe the answer is for the government to provide more affordable housing units to meet the need because the market is not doing that.

The banks could also step up and help people get a home and if an individual has been paying their rent every month and the rent is equivariant to a mortgage payment. After all, the bank really owns the home until it’s paid off. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, a person should not pay more than thirty percent of his or her gross income for housing.

Often rent is far more than that. In Halifax there are a lot of tower cranes in the air, more than ever some would say.

Those are not affordable housing units being built. The new buildings offer one to two bedroom units that rent for $1,500 to $2,000 per month.  I would guess that many do not include the cost of cable, electricity, heating, parking,

Waiting for the market to fill the need is not going to happen, if that was the case there wouldn’t be a need like we have today in a capitalist society where profit is king, and people and their needs are left behind.

Just look around, if rent control isn’t put in place, we will have a much bigger issue to deal with. The market only looks after shareholder profits. That’s why several other provinces in our country have rent control. It’s not some pie in the sky idea, it’s realistic and it needs to be done. If not, governments will have a huge problem on their hands when so many people don’t have a place to live.

Danny Cavanagh is president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour

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