Rental housing: Vancouver stands alone

Rental housing starts in Vancouver, 1950-2000Just over a year ago we reported on an effort by the Metro Vancouver regional authority to push for a better federal tax environment for rental housing construction.  With the demise of Ottawa’s Multiple Unit Residential Building tax credit in the 1980s, and the retreat of senior governments from funding non-profit housing development, the rate of purpose-built rental housing construction has steadily slipped over time.  It’s clearly more profitable, under the current system, to build homes for sale.  The graph on the left, from a City of Vancouver document, illustrates the decade-by-decade trend.

This matters for a bunch of reasons. At the minimum, let’s say that 1) rental housing fills a need for low-income seniors, low-income workers, transient workers and young people, and 2) the existing stock is falling down from old age. Continue reading