There is a “housing crisis” in Victoria, and our mayor and as well as other proponents have stated that the Missing Middle Housing Initiate (MMHI) will contribute to lessening the crisis.

But will it?

  • To qualify for a mortgage on a $900,000 townhouse + GST ($945,000k), with 20% down ($189,000), strata fees of $250 and property taxes of $300, you need a minimum household income of $161,000.
  • According to Statistics Canada, middle-class income in BC has a salary range of $33,323 to $72,282. Given two upper-end earners of the middle-class, you have a family income of $144,564[1].
  • Those who can afford the “missing middle” housing that is being built, and will be built, are not those facing the “housing crisis.” With household incomes of >$161,000, they can afford higher rents, may already own condos, may simply want to move here, or own houses and want to downsize[2].
  • Homes that will be lost to build “missing middle” housing are older homes in lower-density neighbourhoods[3] being rented by real “missing middle” families – families who might be renting the whole house or a suite.
  • MMHI will result in displacement of real missing middle families so those with greater financial means can have high-priced, new townhouses. The real missing middle will be thrown into an ever-worsening housing crisis, due to the loss of affordable housing stock.
  • MMHI, in its current form, will result in a process that will cater to the “wants” of the few, at the expense of the “needs” of many others with no safety-net.
  • Proponents say those renting in private homes should move to the “purpose-built” rentals that are available, as it will provide more protection for them[4]. This means that those currently living in affordable housing, in lower-density neighbourhoods, are expected to move to expensive, “purpose-built”, small units, in high-rise buildings to make room for “missing middle” housing that they cannot afford to live in.
  • Finally, proponents say that more of this housing being built will bring prices down. However, according to developers there is little to no profit in this housing. Therefore, it seems obvious that that at the point where prices start to fall, developers will stop building. So, the argument, “supply will bring down prices”, falls apart.

The MMHI may be a “piece of the puzzle”, but it will not help with Victoria’s housing crisis at this time.

[1] The lower end family income is $66,646, much lower for a single

[2] No, the downsizing will not create opportunities for middle class families to buy the house, as the house being sold will be more expensive than the townhouse. However, it may present an “opportunity” for developers.

[3] Are these neighbourhoods really “low-density?” We don’t know because the city has not done the research.

[4] The picture emerges of developers double ending the deal on both the “missing middle” side and the “purpose-built” rental side. While residents of Victoria experience an even greater squeeze.

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