by: dan kellar
Waterloo – On Oct 30th ACORN, the grassroots social and economic justice organisation with chapters across the country, delivered over 400 tenant testimonials to federal liberal MPs including Waterloo’s Bardish Chagger. This action coincided with ACORN’s national housing spokesperson Tanya Bukart giving testimony to the National Housing Council’s review panel on the financialisation of purpose built rental housing. Bukart’s testimony highlighted the effects on renters created by the stress of living in a precarious housing market, which has been transformed over the past decades, into an investment industry with profit seeking constantly driving up housing and rental prices.
Today’s show features interviews with Acer Bonapart, the chair of the Waterloo Region chapter of ACORN, and Mike Morrice, the Green Party MP for Kitchener Centre, who has been pressuring the government over the ongoing crisis in the affordability of housing in Canada since being elected in 2021. Additionally, Geordie Dent of The Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations (FMTA), which advocates for better rights for tenants, adds comments on the financialisation of housing.
For the purposes of this review, the National Housing Council is using the Federal Housing Advocate’s definition of the financialization of housing which is “the growing dominance of financial actors in the housing sector, which is transforming the main function of housing from a place to live into a financial asset and a tool for investor profits.” The definition continues “These may include asset management companies, hedge funds, pension funds, private equity funds, real estate investment trusts (REITs), real estate operating companies and sovereign wealth funds.”
The National Housing Council, which refers to reports commissioned by The Federal Housing Advocate adds “The financialization of purpose-built rental housing has been linked to a range of negative impacts for renters, such as evictions, rising rents and reduced building services and maintenance.” On this point the National Right to Housing Network, a grassroots tenants rights organisation also focusing on the national panel explains “Financialization of housing refers to the treatment of housing primarily as a financial asset and tool for maximizing investor profit at the expense of human rights among tenants and tenancy-seeking individuals.”
The show focuses on the financialisation of the housing market, immediate steps which could be taken to start addressing the affordability crisis, and the longer term role of government in creating and maintaining an affordable and quality housing supply to meet the needs of growing populations.