Yesterday’s Census data showing a growing number of empty and underutilized homes in Vancouver is alarming, but not surprising. We know from BC Hydro data across Vancouver that there are 10,800 year-round empty homes, which last year crystallized the City’s resolve to bring in Canada’s first Empty Homes Tax. Seeing data that shows there may be even more underutilized homes than BC Hydro suggests gives us more reason to aggressively move on the empty homes tax, and other measures that will help bring homes back within reach to residents in all corners of the city.
Vancouver is in an affordability and rental crisis. We need a tax on empty homes to encourage the best use of all our housing, and help boost our rental supply at a time when there’s almost no vacancy and a real crunch on affordability. In the coming months, the City will also be taking next steps on regulating short-term rentals, which are rapidly eroding our long-term rental supply and pushing rental prices up as the vacancy rate continues to hover near zero.
The City won’t sit on the sidelines as more than 25,000 empty and under-occupied properties hold back homes for residents struggling to find an affordable and secure place to live. In a housing crisis, it’s unacceptable for so much housing to be treated as a commodity; housing is for homes first, and as investments second. Vancouver will continue to do all it can to maintain and protect affordable homes, and pursue all tools available to ensure the best use of all our housing.
-Mayor Gregor Robertson