British Columbia

Affordable housing issue 'abandoned' by federal government, says Vancouver mayor

Mayor Gregor Robertson says the federal government hasn’t done enough to help young people find affordable housing in Vancouver and the rest of Canada.

Inconsistent salaries to living costs are driving young people out of Metro Vancouver, finds Vancity report

Mayor Gregor Robertson says federal government needs to do more to help with housing crunch. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson says the federal government has "abandoned" affordable housing, as he addressed concerns the city's expensive real estate prices are pushing millennials out.

study from Vancity Credit Union released earlier this week predicted a mass migration of young people out of Metro Vancouver, because wages are not keeping up with the high prices of housing.

"It's obviously a huge concern," Robertson told the Early Edition's Rick Cluff. "We've seen this wave coming, it's been pretty obvious for a number of years."

Robertson said the city has been focusing on building rental housing, as it is the most affordable city hall can deliver.

But, he said, the federal government hasn't done enough to help major cities like Vancouver that are experiencing a housing crisis.

"We do not have enough support from the federal government to bring the cost of housing down in our cities. Housing is very expensive across Canada because the federal government has basically abandoned the field."

Robertson said he wants the housing crunch to be a major federal election issue.

"You look at a huge supply of our affordable housing right now and it came from programs to build rental housing across Canada.

"Those programs faded away decades ago and that means we have nowhere near enough rental housing being built across the country."

Mayor's message to millennials

The Vancity credit union report indicates a family household income needs to be $123,000 in order to maintain an average mortgage in Metro Vancouver.

But the inconsistent salary to housing cost ratio has led waves of young people to leave the city over the last few years, says the report. 770 are projected to have left in 2012 with that number increasing to 1,571 in 2013.

Robertson says that's unacceptable.

"I don't think we can be letting that happen — we have to do everything we can to prevent it. We thrive as a diverse city where people can live close to where they work."

To hear more, click the audio labelled: Mayor Robertson reacts to housing crisis for young Vancouverites.

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