Portland’s often-envied big sister tried building its way out of its affordability crisis, with dismal results; now it decides to “follow the money”
Vancouver’s Mayor Gregor Robertson admits that city’s version of “build, baby build” hasn’t worked.
“We had ramped up our rental housing supply, [and] focused on supportive housing for our most vulnerable population,” Robertson told NextCity.org. “But the pressure in the real estate market continued to escalate dramatically.”
In fact, a recent analysis showed that over 12,000 of Vancouver’s units were sitting empty — the result of a wave of real estate speculation and commodification.
The result, he says, was “untethered speculation, jacked-up prices and flipping in the local real estate market.” A warning to Portland?
So the administration went after the economic root of the problem, by passing a 1% tax on vacant homes. The administration believes the new tax will dampen the impact of housing speculation, and also provide funding to help build more affordable housing. Properties that are not being held for speculative purposes (such as historic homes seeking rehab) have a number of ways of claiming exemption from the tax.
Our Vancouver colleague Patrick Condon, professor at UBC, has called for a similar methodology in the past, as we noted previously on this blog.