Thursday, July 19, 2007

Conservatives caught in a lie

Yesterday City Council debated secondary suites. The two sides of the debate are: 1. affordable housing; 2. property rights (buyers buy in a neighbourhood on the basis that it will stay the same - ie. noise and traffic levels, but secondary suites increase density - read noise and traffic).

I sat in on a Council meeting a couple weeks ago and there was a discussion about converting rental stock to condominiums. Council was seeking the power from the province to be able to regulate this practice. Basically, someone buys a rental building, kicks all of the people out, then sells the apartments individually and makes a huge profit.

Ald. Ric McIver (very conservative) opposed the motion saying that he would not interfere with people's right to dispose of their property as they see fit.

This is the same argument against rent control.

So my argument is that if they aren't going to use rent control, or stop condo conversions on the argument that government should not interfere with my right to dispose of my property as I see fit (which is a bull shit in the first place - see what happens when I have a horse stabled in my apartment). Then they should apply the same argument to secondary suites.

What this hypocrisy tells me is that Conservatives hate lower middle class people. They use whatever argument is available and convenient to protect property value and my ability to make money off poor people.

2 comments:

Jerrod said...

Hi Jeff,

How does this fit with Jane Jacob's resistence to rent control and low income housing programs?

I'm not too sure how they connect. On a related note: what do you think about The Seed's 28 story project. The argument as I see it is that the city believe that this will create a low-income ghetto in one building (other believes that the city is just trying to smooth over some NIMBY). This has been shown to occuring in major cities in the past (70's) like Chicago & New York. The alternative plan proposed by the city was to do a "land swap" - giving equivalent land dispersed throughout the city so that people can still have low income housing but not in a concentrated area.

Floyd believes that the city just doesn't want poor people downtown and The SEED believe that the social stratification occurs at a neighbourhood level rather than a localized level (i.e within the building). But - there are plans for a number of "at par" rental units on the top floors - but, in all honesty, who will pay going rates for rental units in a building that is predominantly occupied by "former" street people. I know this sounds harsh but honestly, to some degree this buidling will be "Transitional Housing Part 2".

Does social stratification need to occur within an individual building primarily or within the neighbourhood as a whole?

Gopher said...

1 - a low income tower in a neighbourhood full of housing towers isn't really out of place from a planning perspective. It isn't like this is a 28 story building in Strathmore, or some low density community. So, I don't think it will be a ghetto, there is already a couple market rate rental building and another couple that are condos. So, if there is going to be a huge affordable housing building,this is probably one of the best places to put it (or in west downtown, where there is even more housing) - I think not putting it there is the nimby kicking in.

So the question is, is an affordable housing tower the right solution?

There are other solutions that don't depend on a huge capital expenditure.

a. secondary suites - dispersing low-income people throughout calgary. issues: a. farther from services like addictions counseling. b. farther from the concentration of drug dealers that hang around the route from the train to the seed.

b. income subsidy - a low income person can't be identified by their house. "invest in people not buildings."

c. Ald. King's suggestion to disperse affordable housing into different communities. In a discussion about where to put social agencies the idea came up to have a minimum number of affordable housing beds in each community instead of a maximum. like seniors aging in place (in their own homes instead of in seniors homes downtown) why shouldn't income support be available so low income people can be "poor in place" - allowing them to focus on issues instead of issues and displacement. - but then there will be the "community poor house" and people that go there will be vilified. So this takes me back to an income subsidy, that also provides access to counseling etc.

But these ideas are reforming the system. And the seed suggestion is inline with the current system. Warehouse the homeless.