Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Housing and poverty

with 5 comments

Two pieces in today’s Vancouver Sun are worth reading. First the lead story on the loss of affordable rental housing. Secondly, Paul Willcox’s opinion piece “Is it really okay for little kids to go hungry because of our choices?”

When I went to the London School of Economics [1976-1978] I had to make a choice of which courses to take, and chose transport over housing for my economics option. But the economics of the housing market, and the callous political treatment of poverty in recent years, have been a growing concern. It is now not possible to rent a decent two bedroom flat for under $1500 in Vancouver. This is roughly what we are currently paying for the mortgage on our three bedroom house in Richmond, but then we managed by the skin of our teeth to scrape back into the housing market six years ago. If we had left it any longer, we would have been stuck. (We lost all our equity in the great crash of the house market in Toronto in 1990).

The point about poverty is that it awaits all of us, if we are not very lucky or very careful. We like to distance ourselves from the poor (who are always with us) in the hopes that it won’t rub off on us. And as Canadians we like to think that there is a social safety net. But it is clear that the net has been reduced to well below the point where it is effective. And children in BC are malnourished because of it. And the downtown eastside beckons for those who slip and fall. Mental illness being one of the commonest causes of poverty. In a society that likes to pretend it has a public health system. Where you have to pay even for the ambulance that picks you up from the street.

Your job is not secure. Your family could be split asunder (family fission now being the mode) in an instant. You probably have limited savings. You could be the victim of a random event. Ty Pennington is not going to come and rescue you, any more than the Lottery Corporation is.

The time for activism is now.

Written by Stephen Rees

October 9, 2006 at 12:44 pm

Posted in Economics, housing, poverty

5 Responses

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  1. I submit that poverty will be with us of ever beucause someone likes it that way. Why else when I think I know what it’s main cause is and how it could habe been fixed.

    Bob Manning

    April 22, 2007 at 2:55 pm

  2. Funnily enough I wasn’t finished but I suppose I pushed the wrong key. Now where was I? Oh yes, How it could have been fixed. Well we have always had a certain amount of poverty. In certain parts of the world it is huge. It certainly doesn’t have to be that way but the class structure is very strong and those that have not will never be given the means to financially better themselves. Now the same has happened to the Western world and the reason is greed. Corporation, Large business greed. Short and sweet.

    Bob Manning

    April 22, 2007 at 2:58 pm

  3. I guess one is only able to write a short comment and now a diatribe. Therefore I agree Spephen. Keep up the good work. The end

    Bob Manning

    April 22, 2007 at 2:59 pm

  4. The Western Corporation have gone off shore to make there goods because they can have them manufactured cheapily and sell them at the same high price. Oh I know Wal Co and Zeelers and such give you a “Bargain” but it’s really isn’t worth mentioning.
    For the most part there are no blue collar jobs in Canada and thus no future and nothing to allow those students who do not have a high academic stadard a meaning of living. We make no radios, Televisions, shirts coats, towel, etc in Canada. We use to. We have no fish canneries to speak of. We cannot nuy Canadian fish without a search and now canned fruit is from off shore. Do the manufacturers care. NO, they get it made cheap and charge us high prices for the goods. Ever looked to see how many fancy cars and expensive apartment are now in Vancouver?
    I also beleive drugs, crime or all sorts can be directly placed on the shoulders of the lack of meaningful work available in the Western world. It will never change until the West becomes the third world and The East the first. No one to blame but ourselves. Too bad………

    Bob Manning

    April 22, 2007 at 3:09 pm

  5. I am sorry that you seem to be having trouble with the WordPress comments system. I know that other people have been able to send lengthy diatribes

    I posted this piece back in October last year, and I am just curious how you found your way to it now.

    In yesterday’s Guardian there was a story about how child slave labour is being used to bring cheap clothing to Britain’s shops. http://www.guardian.co.uk/retail/story/0,,2063009,00.html
    I am sure that applies here to. I will bet that Walmart gets their clothes this way too. And the richest woman in the world was a Walmart owner.

    Charles Dickens used to write about the way that poverty and affluence coexisted in Victorian Britain. I never expected that it could be recreated so quickly. How long before we see workhouses and people forced into indentured labour here?

    Stephen Rees

    April 22, 2007 at 7:56 pm


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