8,600 affordable housing units gone since 2016, report finds
'We're seeing the complete erosion of affordable housing,' says Canada Research Chair in Resilient Communities
The NB Coalition for Tenants Rights is calling on the provincial government to act after a report found 8,625 affordable housing units were lost between 2016 and 2021.
That's about 25 per cent of all housing units that cost under $750 per month and are considered affordable for households that earn less than $30,000 per year.
"We're seeing the complete erosion of affordable housing," said Julia Woodhall-Melnik, the co-director of the Housing, Mobilization and Engagement Research Lab (Home-RL) at the University of New Brunswick.
Home-RL analyzed data made public by Statistics Canada for the report.
Woodhall-Melnik, the Canada Research Chair in Resilient Communities, told CBC's Rachel Cave the report demonstrates the impact that renovictions, massive rent increases and the sale of apartment buildings to new owners have had on affordable housing stock.
"We no longer have any resemblance of rent control here, so we know that unit prices are increasing," she said.
What the province is doing
The provincial government imposed a 3.8 per cent rent cap on landlords at the beginning of 2022.
That legislation came to an end on Dec. 31, 2022, after Jill Green, the minister responsible for housing, said the rent cap wasn't working.
Green has since introduced a bill allowing tenants to contest rent increases through the Residential Tenancies Act.
Woodhall-Melnik said the report shows the highest rent category saw the biggest percentage increase in the number of units it increased by.
The number of rental units priced between $1,500 and $1,999 per month increased from 1,520 to 4,935 units, a 225 per cent jump between 2016 and 2021.
And for units that cost $2,000 and higher per month, the number of rentals went from 530 to 1,575 units, an increase of 197 per cent over the same period.
"We're seeing these mass inflations in rent," said Woodhall-Melnik.
To protect the affordable housing that does exist in the province, Woodhall-Melnik said better protections for tenants should be introduced that make it more difficult for landlords to increase rent prices and evict tenants due to renovations.
"Right now we have some of the weakest tenants' rights legislation across Canada, which makes it a playground for these financialized landlords," she said.
The report was prepared in advance of the provincial government's housing forum on May 2.
With files from CBC NB News at 6