The Swamp logo

Waiting for baby boomers to die is not effective housing policy

by JOHN ANDERSON about a month ago in activism

A new report says that a once-reliable way of bringing homes to the resale market isn’t working like it used to.

Waiting for baby boomers

A few years ago, my neighbour died. for many of the preceding decade, we’d done the standard Toronto thing: acknowledged one another politely, usually through an exchange of nods, and courteously asked for or provided help when needed. His death wasn’t unexpected — he was elderly, and his health had obviously been failing for a few time — but it had been sad. Sadder still was the very fact that, while his friends and family had obviously tried to worry for him, he had never removed of the house that shares a wall with ours. I try to not assume an excessive amount of about other people’s stories, but what I did know suggested that his last years would are easier if he’d been living during a home better suited to his needs.

I thought of him again in the week , after the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation released a report stating that GTA residents aged 65 and older are staying in their homes longer — which that’s a drag . because the CMHC notes, it’s a sophisticated problem because it’s the results of a bunch of otherwise promising trends: seniors are generally healthier, wealthier, and getting more supports to assist them age in situ . Those may all be goodies , but, consistent with the CMHC, they are available with a catch: the plan was that the “demographic shift” of baby boomers aging into their autumn years would release the homes they’re currently occupying. But that hasn’t happened.

“The conventional view is that this demographic shift will likely help to extend the availability of housing to younger homeowners, since seniors typically downsize or leave homeownership,” the CMHC report reads. because the flow of resale homes is slowing, though, “ seniors won't be freeing up the expected number of dwellings for younger households thus limiting supply.”

Now, in one sense, this is often a short lived hitch: absent someone finding the grail , we'll all meet the Reaper’s blade someday. But when John Maynard Keynes memorably said, “In the end of the day , we are all dead,” he explicitly meant that policymakers got to do quite just await the economy to return to balance on its own.

This idea that an excellent downsizing would happen within the near future held some real sway in official circles — staff in Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government told me that it had been one reason they were exercising caution on the housing-policy front. the very fact that it’s not happening the way it had been alleged to is simply the newest example of the housing system changing in unpredictable ways.

In his series on housing, David Rockne Corrigan has shown that the housing system can change faster than policy. Nowhere is that more evident than in Edward County, where, over the past decade, the share of homes priced under $300,000 has fallen from 78 per cent to 18 per cent. this is often partly the results of well-heeled retirees decamping from Toronto for a neighborhood of the province where a bucolic setting is (or was) still relatively affordable. But a number of it's also thanks to people turning homes into virtual hotels: the Airbnb effect. the consequences of short-term rentals on the housing market are complex, but, for our purposes, it’s enough to mention that a corporation that hardly existed a decade ago is now considerably a contributing think about our housing chaos.

But it’s not just expats from the GTA, and it’s not just Airbnb. Kenora is extremely nearly as far as you'll get from Toronto and still be in Ontario, and there, too, Corrigan found a community that’s been taken all of sudden by a dire need for affordable housing.

As I’ve noted before, in reference to Toronto, our timid attempts to form change through policy have done little to deal with the housing problem. the sole thing governments of all stripes and in the least levels do comprehensively isn't enough. In light of this week’s CMHC report, i might add that a part of the rationale nobody is doing enough is that we’ve been slow to acknowledge that certain features of the system — like mortality itself — aren’t doing an equivalent work they wont to .

Our housing system is broken ways it’s taken us too long to know , and it won’t fix itself. We’re getting to need aggressive policies from all three levels of state — policies substantially more aggressive than anything we’ve seen so far . And we’ll need approaches more creative than “wait for the baby boomers to die.”

Read next: New Mexico—It's like a State, like All the Others!
See all posts by JOHN ANDERSON

Find us on socal media

Miscellaneous links