Andrew Ramlo and David Baxter of Urban Futures were fast off the mark with an analysis of the latest census figures on families and housing, just released on September 12. And what they chose to highlight is so counterintuitive, it’s difficult to grasp.
Despite all the cranes on the skyline and the overhyped marketing campaigns, this has been one of the slowest periods of housing growth – in both real and percentage terms – in three decades.
The 2006 data show that the 2001 to 2006 period represented the slowest growth in the region’s housing stock since the early 1970’s. In addition, the stock of rental housing actually declined by over 10,000 units between 2001 and 2006….
The most recent Census release showed the number of occupied dwellings in the Vancouver CMA (essentially the same geography as the GVRD), has grown to 816,765 dwellings by 2006, eight percent more than the 758,385 that were occupied in 2001 (Figure 1).
While headlines bemoan what is perceived to be a white hot construction market, this actually represents the smallest percentage increase in the occupied housing stock the region recorded in the last 35 years, even below the 11 percent increase that occurred during the deep recession of the 1981 to 1986 period. It is also the second smallest absolute increase, falling just above the 1981 to 1986 low of 52,330 additional occupied dwellings.
And that’s one of the reasons so many young people are living at home. (It’s just not kids; over 10 percent of adults between the ages of 30 and 24 were still at home.)
You can find the full report here.
Ironically, these numbers come out at a time when opposition is building to cut EcoDensity off at its knees. Letters are being written, flyers distributed, petitions circulated and protests organized, all with the same intent: to ensure that as little new housing as possible will be built in the existing neighbourhoods of Vancouver.
So long as the critics don’t have to take on the issue of housing supply raised by these numbers, they can probably get away without having to address the complex issues of affordability and alternatives for a new generation.