British Columbia

Vancouverites sound off about real estate prices at town hall

Hundreds of people attended a town hall on Wednesday evening to address concerns about Metro Vancouver's real estate market. Here are a few of their stories.

Standing-room-only event organized by NDP MLA David Eby drew hundreds

Almost 700 people attended a town hall on real estate in Vancouver on Wednesday night. (CBC)

Hundreds of people attended a town hall on Wednesday evening to address concerns about Metro Vancouver's real estate market. 

The standing-room-only event, organized by NDP MLA David Eby, was packed with people worried about the skyrocketing cost of housing in the region.

Here are a few of their stories. 

Anne Delgiglio and her husband were hoping to downsize, but now are renting. (CBC)

Anne Delgiglio, 48, and her husband recently sold their house in North Vancouver. 

She says they were trying to be responsible by downsizing. They didn't want to still have a mortgage when her husband, who works as a longshoreman, retires in a few years. 

"We were trying to downsize, but there was nothing really to downsize to," she said. ​"We didn't know the market was going to go crazy."

She says prices have increased by 30 to 40 per cent since they sold their home.

One house they looked at — a "shack" that needed major repairs but listed at $1.4 million — sold at $200,000 over asking. 

"I don't know how local people are paying for it," she said. "I just don't understand."

At the moment they're renting — a solution that comes with its own problems, Delgiglio says, noting  rents keep increasing and there are few options available. 

Barb Sutherland owns her home, and would like her children to be able to do the same. (CBC)

Barb Sutherland, 68, knows she's one of the lucky ones.

The retired teacher has lived in Vancouver her entire life and owns a house in Dunbar, which she bought with her husband at a reasonable price decades ago. 

However, it's her children she's worried about. 

"My two children cannot afford to live in Vancouver, and I think it's really important we be able to live in our own communities and work in the same communities," she said. 

Her daughter and son-in-law, who are expecting their first child, are renting an apartment in the West End. But Sutherland says they've had bad experiences with landlords in the past. 

"As a retired person, I've watched this huge growth in what my house is worth, and I would be very willing to have the house prices go down somewhat if it meant that young families could move in," she said.

Sutherland says she's also concerned about the empty houses on her street. 

"People aren't living in there and connecting to the community, and that's what we need — we need vibrant communities," she said.

She says she was "astounded" by a recent report from the City of Vancouver that said vacancy rates in the city are relatively stable.

Herb Varley is on income assistance and lives in subsidized housing. (CBC)

Herb Varley, 32, understands the perils of unaffordable housing.

The aspiring Simon Fraser University student and housing activist now lives in a subsidized unit with Vancouver Native Housing, but he has also lived in a single-room occupancy (SRO)  hotel on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. 

"It was a first step from homelessness," he said. "That being said, it was one step away from homelessness, too."

His concern is the real estate developers he says are buying up SROs and renting them at higher prices after minimal renovations. 

Varley says the city should have more affordable housing for people like him who survive on income assistance. He says politicians such as Eby have forgotten about people living on the Downtown Eastside. 

Michel Leblanc is a long-term resident of Vancouver who is considering leaving the city because of housing prices. (CBC)

Long-time Vancouver resident Michel Leblanc, 50, says he's wondering where he'll end up. 

"It's hard to know if there's even any incentive to stay in Vancouver," Leblanc said while waiting outside for the meeting to begin.  "I'm very concerned with the cost of housing." 

Leblanc, who has been renting his entire life, says he was "renovicted" from his last place by owners he knew only by their numbered company. 

He says he considered buying a home a couple of years ago, but was quickly disheartened. 

"The prices have just been going up and up and up, so I pretty much abandoned any prospect in the past year or so," he said. 

Leblanc says he makes a "decent income," but can't afford to buy a home in Vancouver, so he's considering moving away or possibly living on a boat. 

With files from Kamil Karamali


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