Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation
May 30, 2023
OTTAWA – Last week, B’nai Brith Canada provided a written submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (the “Committee”) for its Study on the Financialization of Housing.
In recent decades, Canada has undergone a process of financialization in its rental housing market, resulting in fewer affordable housing units available for rent. The trend of viewing residential real estate as speculative investment vehicles rather than basic human necessities has often been attributed to the rise of Real Estate Investment Funds (REITs) which allow investors to pay less taxes while making speculative investments in the housing market.
According to the Canadian Rental Housing Index, 40% of Canadian households spend over 30% of their income on rent and utilities, with 18% of households spending over 50% of their income on housing.
The issue is most pronounced in Toronto, where B’nai Brith’s three affordable housing buildings are located. Since 1979, the buildings have provided more than 300 subsidized homes for Holocaust survivors, disabled people, and residents with low-to-moderate incomes in a setting that is both friendly and culturally familiar.
While the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto was recently reported to be $2,526, by contrast, the fair market rent for a one-bedroom apartment in one of our buildings is $1,232.
Growing public awareness of Canada’s housing crisis has led to the Committee’s new study on the Financialization of Housing. The study will look at corporate ownership of single-family homes, rent gouging, “renovictions”, as well as the controversial REITs and the special tax treatment they enjoy.
“We strongly recommend that the Government of Canada partner with non-profit and charitable organizations such as B’nai Brith to create a federally supported rental property acquisition fund,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “As a trusted non-profit housing provider and charitable organisation, we are ready to serve as a partner in such an initiative.”
“Access to such a fund would provide B’nai Brith, and other responsible charities with similar mandates, a unique opportunity to purchase affordable rental buildings and housing co-ops for sale in cities across Canada. What’s more, it would also protect the RGI (rent-geared-towards-income) units that B’nai Brith provides.”
B’nai Brith also supports the recommendations submitted by the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association (CHRA) to revise Canada’s National Housing Strategy to preserve and increase our stock of rental housing and to create an Affordable Housing Investment Tax Credit, aimed at incentivizing private sector investment in affordable housing.