NDP MP Jenny Kwan told The Hill Times in an interview last week that generally speaking, having a dedicated minister who will focus on addressing the housing needs of Canadians is a good thing because there is a “major” homelessness crisis “in pretty much every community across the country.”
“However, that being said, there’s a real question on what the government’s priorities are and how they would address the housing crisis,” said Kwan, adding that the Liberal government has been “more talk than action.”
“Keeping in mind that the reality that we’re faced with right now is that we’re losing more affordable housing units than we’re building, so that adds another level of pressure to the existing demand of the people who are already there, because there are other people who will lose that housing over time as well. So I think that’s an issue to which the Liberals have completely failed to address,” said Kwan. “Even in this mandate letter, they do not address this issue head-on.”
When it comes to the “financialization” of housing (when housing is treated as a commodity) with large investors and REITs coming in “and sweeping up acquisition of rental housing,” said Kwan, she suggested the federal government could “in fact put a moratorium for the acquisition of rental housing for REITs until we can actually address the housing crisis and get a better handle on how to manage the situation.”
“When I say putting a moratorium for acquisition of REITs is to actually hold the stock, hold the affordable housing stock by non-profits so that we can continue to keep that housing stock at an affordable rate,” said the MP.