‘EMPTY HOUSE SPECULATOR’ SYNDROME EQUALS THEFT AND UNETHICAL INVESTING

‘EMPTY HOUSE SPECULATOR’ SYNDROME EQUALS THEFT AND UNETHICAL INVESTING

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.) Post updated June 28, 2017.

Garry Marr’s Financial Post May 8, 2017 article “Spectre of empty houses haunts Canada’s two most expensive housing markets” (expensive) states that in Toronto ‘some believe vacant homes exist on a widespread basis, bought up by a stream of investors so consumed by speculation – or just a safe place to park their money – that they can’t even bother to rent out their properties in markets where the going rate can easily top $3 per square foot…..data seems to indicate there were as ‘many as 66,000 vacant units in Toronto in 2016 equivalent to 5.6 per cent of the city’s total stock of 1.2 million private dwelling units’.  If one calculates this based on a family of four one could guess that about 16,500 families are missing out on Toronto housing.  But wait, the article goes on to say that of the empty homes, 90 per cent are condos or apartments. If condos and apartments are more likely to be bought/rented by singles and poor families, then this would mean singles and poor families are more likely to be hurt by the empty units and Toronto housing crises.

Matt Levin’s Los Angeles Daily News May 13, 2017  ‘Amid state housing crisis, why 2 out of 5 millennials still live at home’ (millennials) article states ‘State lawmakers have introduced more than 130 bills this legislative session to try to solve California’s housing affordability crisis, proposing everything from 150 square-foot apartments to a $3 billion affordable housing bond’.  ‘Nearly a decade removed from the depths of the Great Recession, a staggering 38 percent of California’s 18 to 34-year-olds still live with their parents, according to U.S. Census data. That’s roughly 3.6 million people stuck at home.  If “unlaunched” California millennials formed their own state, they would be entitled to more electoral votes than Connecticut, Iowa or Utah.  If they formed their own city, it would be the third largest in the country’.  California’s population is slightly larger than Canada’s population.

‘Huge demand for tiny rental units in Vancouver’, by Bruce Constatineau in 2014 (rental) talks about  a 100-square-foot unit for $570 a month and there’s a waiting list of people wanting to rent other units when they become available.  In another development there are units as small as 90 square feet where each unit contains a tiny sink and fridge (no cooking facilities and windows?).. Renters in the 50 units share 11 bathrooms, and there are laundry facilities on each of the four floors.  Apparently  the mini-sized apartments attract a wide range of renters — from ages 19 to 56 — who want to live on their own with a downtown Vancouver address.  Budget-minded renters…..can find similar-sized or even smaller cubbyholes downtown for anywhere between $400 and $600 a month.  It is further stated than In order to make them affordable, they need to be very small, condensed units with shared washrooms. That’s just a fact of life.  Really?  The pictures of these units speak a thousand words.

Edmonton, Alberta is also considering construction of 100 square foot units.

Empty house speculator syndrome is equivalent to unethical investing and theft since the empty units have been taken off the market and are not available for occupancy.  Ethical investing excludes chocolate companies that use child labor. Children are taught it is wrong to ‘take candy from babies’, shoplifters are jailed for minor thefts and yet it appears to be okay for speculators to ‘steal’ housing all within legal limits of the law.  The present housing market is based on greed.  Greed begets greed and greed trumps family values.  In housing singles are worth less than other members of the family unit.  The bar has now been reset to a new low where it is okay for them to live in spaces equivalent in size to two jail cells (average jail cell is 45 square feet and provides ‘free’ accommodation and meals, but you can’t leave).

The complete disregard of the housing crisis is heightened by Dr. Ben Carson, head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development USA, who states poverty is a “state of mind” and Trumpian politics which rob the poor to pay the rich.  Liberals and Conservatives in Canada are no different.  The housing crisis is not a “state of mind”, but rather has been brought on by inadequate rules and regulations on housing, failure to increase the minimum wage to a living wage and the upper middle classes and wealthy paying less and getting more for housing and tax loopholes.

Housing is a basic human right as determined internationally in the “Universal International Declaration of Human Rights” and “International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights” and is one of the principles of Maslow’s Hierarchy of need. In Canada there appears to be no shame in robbing singles, poor families and indigenous people of their housing.  Housing investors, politicians and families need to take a look in the mirror and reset their moral and ethical compasses to ‘true North’ re housing crisis.

LESSONS THAT SHOULD/COULD BE LEARNED

Where are the parents of millennials?  How can they allow the housing crisis and their children to be housed in 90 square foot units and smaller?  Where are the family values for housing?

Where are the governments, politicians and city counsels that have allowed the housing crisis to take over and last so long?  Where are the rules and regulations to prevent the building of ridiculously small units with price gouging rents?

Why do singles, who are more likely to live in small spaces, always have to pay more per square foot, sometimes outrageously so ($570 for 100 square foot unit)?  The upside-down pricing of housing (affordable-housing) where the smaller the space, the higher the price is per square foot needs to stop.  Doubling the price on rent equals pure greed and unethical investing.  Why do the upper middle class and wealthy pay so much less per square foot for their housing?  The estimate for the amount of house taxes, etc. that is collected by not making the wealthy pay their fair share per square foot must be astounding.

How do occupants of these small spaces learn life lessons, such as cooking for themselves, buying food and managing finances?

The minimum wage needs to be raised to an indexed living wage (cause-and-effect-of-financial-policies).  Building affordable housing will not solve the problem if the minimum wage is not raised.

Humane principles-there are many humane associations and principles related to animals, so where are the humane principles for humans re housing – 100 sq. ft. at $570 rent is not humane.

Where are the rules and regulations on how small a space can be developed, such as a minimum of 350 square feet, so at least there can be a bathroom and cooking facilities within the unit?  Surely, there must be point where it is is not financially feasible for developers to develop small units with minimum square footage in relation to the cost of building the unit and also provides dignity to occupants of these units.

Alberta Health Minimum Housing and Health Standards (Housing-Minimum) – the following condensed excerpt provides information on some Alberta standards for housing.

Space for Sleeping purposes (overcrowding): The owner of a housing premises shall not permit it to become or remain overcrowded. (a) A housing premises shall be deemed to be overcrowded if: (i) a bedroom in it has less than 3m2 (32ft2)of total floor area and 5.6m3 (197ft3) of air space for each adult sleeping in the bedroom, (ii) in the case of a dormitory, the sleeping area in the dormitory has less than 4.6m2 (49.5ft2) of floor space and 8.5 m3 (300ft3) of air space for each adult sleeping in the sleeping area, or (iii) a habitable room in it that is not a bedroom but is used for sleeping purposes in combination with any other use has less than 9.5m2 (102ft2) of floor space and 21.4m3 (756ft3) of air space for each adult sleeping in the habitable room. (b) For the purposes of calculating this section, a person who is more than 1 year of age but not more than 10 years of age shall be considered as a July 20, 1999 9 Revised June 30, 2012 Alberta Health Minimum Housing and Health Standards © 1999–2012 Government of Alberta 1/2(one half) adult and a person who is more than 10 years of age shall be considered as 1 adult; (c) This section does not apply to a hotel/motel.

Food Preparation Facilities:  (a) Every housing premises shall be provided with a food preparation area, which includes: (i) a kitchen sink that is supplied with potable hot and cold water and suitably sized to allow preparation of food, washing utensils and any other cleaning operation; and (ii) cupboards or other facilities suitable for the storage of food; and (iii) a counter or table used for food preparation which shall be of sound construction and furnished with surfaces that are easily cleaned; and (iv) a stove and a refrigerator that are maintained in a safe and proper operating condition. The refrigerator shall be capable of maintaining a temperature of 4 degrees C. (400F). (b) Shared Kitchen Facilities Occupants of a housing premises with more than one dwelling may share food preparation facilities provided that: (i) the food preparation facilities are located in a common kitchen room, (ii) the occupants have access to the common kitchen room from a public corridor without going outside the building, (iii) the common kitchen room is located on the same floor as, or on the next storey up or down from the floor on which the dwelling unit is located, July 20, 1999 10 Revised June 30, 2012 Alberta Health Minimum Housing and Health Standards © 1999–2012 Government of Alberta (iv) the food preparation facilities shall not serve more than eight persons, and (v) the refrigerator shall provide a minimum volume of two cubic feet of storage for each intended occupant.

Washroom Facilities:  Except where exempt by regulation, every housing premises shall be provided with plumbing fixtures of an approved type consisting of at least a flush toilet, a wash basin, and a bathtub or shower. (a) The washbasins and bathtub or shower shall be supplied with potable hot and cold running water. (b) The wash basin should be in the same room as the flush toilet or in close proximity to the door leading directly into the room containing the flush toilet. (c) All rooms containing a flush toilet and/or bathtub or shower shall be provided with natural or mechanical ventilation. Shared Washrooms (d) Occupants of a housing premises with more than one dwelling unit may share a flush toilet, wash basin and bathtub or shower provided that: (i) the occupants have access to the washroom facility without going through another dwelling or outside of the building; and (ii) the facility is located on the same floor as, or on the next storey up or down from the floor on which the suite is located; and (iii) each group of plumbing fixtures (toilet, washbasin, bathtub or shower) shall not serve more than eight persons.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

SINGLES BASHING JUST ANOTHER FORM OF MARITAL STATUS DISCRIMINATION

SINGLES BASHING JUST ANOTHER FORM OF MARITAL STATUS DISCRIMINATION

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author about financial fairness and discrimination and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

Tomorrow, February 20, is designated Family Day in Canada and was originally created to give people time to spend with their families, but also provides a day off between New Year’s Day and Good Friday as they are approximately three months apart.

It is no surprise that singles still have a hard time being recognized as part of the family. Wouldn’t it be nice if families on Family Day took the time to thank and recognize singles for their contributions to the family unit?  The following blog article was recently published in a local newspaper earlier in the month.  It was in response to the town council seeking approval for a wage increase for its councillors.

family-inclusionary-or-exclusionary-term

In article ‘Council wages to increase’ one councillor apparently stated another councillor’s perspective on not raising council wages was “perhaps influenced by being a single individual and not yet having to divide his time between a day job, part-time councillor’s job and family”.

Stress is no respecter of marital status and hits singles equally to married and coupled persons.   Singles today have great difficulty living on just one salary and no government benefits while constantly having to pay more than families.  One example is today’s upside down housing equivalent to “loan shark and pay day loan” status where family values are replaced by greed of business.  In  one Calgary housing complex smallest 552 sq. ft. micro-condos with starting price of $299,900 equals $543 per sq. ft. while largest 1830 sq. ft. ultra deluxe models priced from $649,900 to $749,900 equals $355 to $409 per sq. ft.  Ripple effects are owners of biggest lifetime expense (singles and poor families) proportionately pay more house and education taxes, mortgage interest and real estate fees on less house and less take home pay.  Price per square foot of detached family and multi-millionaire housing is usually less than micro-condos.  Same premise can be applied to renting.

Singles are not liabilities to family units, they are assets.  They  help support families by paying education taxes even though they have no children and their EI contributions, even when they have never used EI, help support maternal/paternal leaves of families with children.

Families continually state their hearts are forever changed when they bear their children, yet these hearts appear to become stone when these same children become adult singles.  Singles bashing that reduces singles to lowest part of family unit is discrimination based on marital status and is no different than any other kind of discrimination.  Single adults are still the children of someone and deserve to be treated with same dignity and respect as any other child of family unit.

Financial, social and emotional intelligence is not defined by marital status, but rather by each person’s belief systems and what he/she was taught and grew up with.  Ideal would be less reliance on marital status in family unit equations, but that will never happen as long as married or coupled persons fail to realize singles also have many stresses, just different kinds of stresses to that of families.

discrimination-and-singlism

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

SINGLES DESERVE AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND FINANCIAL FAIRNESS FOR SINGLES

SINGLES DESERVE AFFORDABLE HOUSING

These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.

(This opinion letter was published in a local newspaper on April 13, 2016)

The Calgary Herald April 9, 2016 article “Thinking inside the box” is an enlightening article on the financial plight of singles in regards to affordable housing.

This article describes how a San Francisco man has created a private sleeping space in the living room of an apartment he shares with other roommates.  He sleeps in a wooden box that is eight feet long, four and a half feet tall and probably about five or six feet wide. Inside this box is a twin bed, a fold-up desk and some LED lights.  A fan and built-in ventilation help air travel  through.  He has spent $1300 for materials.  He is also working on fully soundproofing its walls.  One wonders what the owner of apartment thinks of this ‘renovation’.

This man apparently is gainfully employed as a freelance illustrator whose work has appeared in the New Yorker.  To his credit and frugality, he has a positive attitude and readily admits he is not in dire financial straits, but has developed the box as a creative solution so that he can have a ‘private’ bedroom rather than sleeping on the couch.

In San Francisco where affordable housing is futile, one-bedroom apartments rent for median of $3,670 per month.  The article states that his roommates live in conventional bedrooms paying about $1,000 per month.  He pays $400 and has full access to the amenities of the apartment.  He calls his bedroom space a ‘pod’.   Total number of bedrooms in this apartment are not stated.

The housing situation for singles in Canada is no better.   High-rise condos in Toronto average about $455,000.  Going rental price for one-bedroom condos in local town appears to be $1,300.

It appears that desired results have been achieved for what married/coupled persons and families think are appropriate for singles.  Singles can now sleep in spaces that are less than one hundred square feet in size.  It seems these same people no longer consider singles to be their children or part of the family.  Instead, the state of business has overtaken the value of family to the point of unadulterated greed.

Singles deserve better in affordable housing solutions.  When they talk to government, decision makers and families about lack of affordable housing, they are met with anger, shunning and deaf ears.  They are given the response that it is ‘what the market can bear’.

Every adult with marital status of being single deserves a living wage and a dignified place to live that is equal to adults in families.  Every adult with marital status of being single deserves to be included in financial formulas that are equal in benefits to adults in families. Every adult with marital status of being single and and part of a family unit deserves to be treated with same financial dignity and respect as married/coupled children of the family unit.

ADDENDUM

Singles are continually told by married/coupled persons and families that they can move in with someone else if they have financial constraints.

What is most ironic with the publication of this opinion letter is that another opinion letter was published on this same date in this same newspaper by the owner of a condo villa (which is much larger in square footage) discussing how owners need to be careful about reviewing contract details when purchasing.  Examples are sodding versus ‘naturescaping’, mulch or rocks and liabilities of people falling or using skateboards on sidewalks which are the private property of the condo.

While these are valid concerns, the juxtaposition of singles deserving affordable housing versus owners of expensive large condo villas is striking.

Postscript added May 25, 2016 – There can be no doubt that there is a housing crises for Canadian singles and the poor when information such as the following is published in local media and newspapers:  ‘A shortage of affordable housing is partially to blame for a number of ads offering discounted or free rent in exchange for sex, an advocate says’. (affordable-housing-behind-some-sex-for-rent-schemes)

This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.

PROFILING OF SINGLE MEN-CULTURAL AND MARITAL DISCRIMINATION OF SINGLES

PROFILING OF SINGLE MEN-CULTURAL AND MARITAL DISCRIMINATION OF SINGLES

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

On January 18, 2016, an opinion letter entitled “Culture Clash” was published in the Calgary Herald by a couple profiling single migrant men.  The letter has been reproduced here in its entirety. The response by the author of this blog published in the Calgary Herald has also been reproduced here.  The name of the opinion letter was changed by the Calgary Herald editors to “Nothing wrong with being single”.

Today on the program “The Social” (a Canadian social commentary program) a statement was made in one of their commentaries that single white men are the cause of many terrorist activities, for example, Timothy McVeigh.

This post is not of a financial nature, but is entered here over deep concern for negative profiling of singles.

CALGARY HERALD EDITORIAL LETTER “CULTURE CLASH”

Re:  Angela Merkel says Germany has lost control of the refugee crisis and public anger over Cologne sex attacks

My wife is from Germany and keeps in contact with family there who live in a small village near Stuttgart, where the German government has housed some 60 single migrant men, all under the age of 40, in an unused grocery store.

These folks have daughters in their early 20s who no longer feel safe going out at night or using the trains due to these men’s constant leering and gesturing.  Recently, a teenage niece was confronted in her grandmother’s backyard by three men who tried to prevent her from getting back into the house, first asking for money and then: ‘ Do you like Hitler?’ Not up on current events, apparently.

So far, our federal government deserves full credit for allowing in only vetted immigrant families, but my concern is with their overly ambitious quotas and deadlines, they may open it to single men as Germany and other European countries did.  In that case, it’s not inconceivable that what happened in Cologne and other cities in Cologne and other cities on New Year’s Eve could one day come to a big public event here, as soon as July perhaps.  (Authored by couple from Calgary).

(Response to above letter) PROFILING OF SINGLE MEN-NOTHING WRONG WITH BEING SINGLE

January 18, 2016 letter “Culture Clash” by the (name not published here) is disturbing. This letter is profiling all migrant single men as disgusting human beings.

How did these single men get this way except to be taught this by men including fathers and a society that has no respect for human dignity?

To change behavior, how about talking to them about respect, first of all, for themselves and then respect for women?

Singles are fed up with being negatively profiled and told they are worth less than married people.  They are told they are spendthrifts, don’t behave properly, but when they marry they suddenly become decent human beings.

Marital status and being male does not define social intelligence.  Rather what you have been taught and your moral values define who you are.  Married people, parents and fathers should look to themselves when they profile single men as being societal failures.

CONCLUSION

So, in just two instances single migrant men and single white men have been negatively profiled as being bad people.  This is a pretty big number of the total single men population. Such profiling also has a negative effect on the psychological well-being of singles.

When are married/coupled persons and families (including race) going to ‘get over themselves’ in thinking that they are the only ones who are able to have cultural and social intelligence?

Marital status does not mean married/coupled persons and families are going to behave any better than singles.  Look to examples where Canadian immigrant parents have killed their daughters because of clashing religious ideals, the atrocities committed by men in India, both single and married, against multiple raping of females, and family members killing each other or committing crimes against each other.

To  stop negative profiling and financial discrimination of singles, marital status needs to be eliminated in the equal treatment of all human beings regardless of race and sex.

This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.

FAMILY: INCLUSIONARY OR EXCLUSIONARY TERM AND FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION

FAMILY:  INCLUSIONARY OR EXCLUSIONARY TERM AND FINANCIAL DISCRIMINATION

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

Today, February 15, is designated Family Day in Canada and was originally created to give people time to spend with their families, but also provides a day off between New Year’s Day and Good Friday as they are approximately three months apart.

The word ‘family’  can have many different meanings.  One definition is “a fundamental social group in society typically consisting of one or two parents and their children.” While this definition is a traditional definition, there are other family units excluded by this definition, such as couples without children or other variations on the family unit. Another definition is “two or more people who share goals and values, have long-term commitments to one another and reside usually in the same dwelling.”  In addition to a more universal family definition, there are many who consider a group of friends to be family, and adults who consider pets also to be members of the family unit.

The Statistics Canada definition of ‘family’ indicates there must be two persons legally living together to be defined as a family.  When census information is collated, the population is called:  “Census families and persons not in census families”.  Singles are included in the “persons not in census family” category.

For Canada Revenue Agency income tax purposes, singles are persons who have never married or whose marriage has been legally annulled.  (Those who  live with a common-law partner are not included in this category).

The word ‘family’ can be inclusionary or exclusionary depending on the closeness (or distance) of the relationship of the persons in the family unit.

It is interesting to note that present political discussions both in Canada and the USA talk about the financial decline of the ‘middle class family”.  Singles and low income are left out the discussion.  Many benefits have been given to the married/coupled persons and family units with children, but singles are generally left out of the benefits or receive less in benefits.

An example of financial discrimination in Canada is the targeted tax relief for seniors where senior singles pay no tax on $20,000 and married/coupled seniors pay no tax on $40,000.  For single seniors this amounts to only $1,700 per month, but for married/coupled seniors this amounts to approximately $3,400 per month.  Living costs are inadequately covered for singles, but are more adequately covered for married/coupled seniors.  It is a well known fact that singles require approximately 70% of living costs for married/coupled persons living together as a family unit.

The mentality of government, decision makers, businesses and families in this country is to serve only the rich and middle class families while generally ignoring singles, low income and no income individuals and families.   Families will often talk about how important the family unit is for them in regards to maintaining close ties to friends and families.  They talk about about how their ‘hearts are eternally and inexplicably changed’ when bearing their children, but same hearts appear to become ‘hearts of stone’ when these same children become adult singles, low income or no income persons and families.  These disadvantaged persons are tossed out or are less important in financial  formulas and decision-making processes.

CONCLUSION

The definition of family as to whether it is inclusionary or exclusionary is in ‘the eye of the beholder’ and depends on which ‘side of the fence’ is beholder is on.   An exclusionary example is the one given above on targeted tax relief.  The financial ‘family’ by devaluing singles and low income takes on a ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ persona, or also could be said to take on an ‘about-face’ persona or doing the exact opposite where the greed of business and personal gain takes on more importance than treasured family values.

Financial fairness of singles, low income and disadvantaged would be better served if they were financially treated as equal family members instead of being financially categorized as ‘worth less’ or ‘worthless’ to the rich and married/coupled persons in financial formulas. This would give more truth to why Family Day is celebrated on this day of February 15.

This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.

 

COUNTRY SHOCKED BY VETERANS HOMELESSNESS

 

COUNTRY SHOCKED BY VETERANS HOMELESSNESS

(These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to provide personal or financial advice.)

March, 2015 study has revealed that approximately 2,250 veterans are homeless.or about 2.7 per cent of the total homeless population (homeless-veterans).  There is shock that there are homeless veterans and it took five years to track the data.  Average age of homeless veterans is 52 years of age compared to 37 years of age for general homeless population.  Review of online information reveals that many veterans joined armed forces because of lack of jobs as in Atlantic Canada, and then come back to again no jobs.  Age in fifties also makes it more difficult to integrate back into civilian life. Many of these homeless are single or if married/ partnered suffer broken marriages/partnerships because of the mental stresses of service.

Why should this be shocking when 300,000 Canadian persons or families are waiting for affordable housing ?  In addition immigrants are brought into country, given temporary free housing and jobs adding further insult to injury.  (In recent news immigrant family,while travelling to Jamaica, found their Canadian-born child is on a ‘no fly’ list – so what is this, immigrant family wealthy enough to have a nice little vacation while Canadian-born persons are homeless or waiting affordable housing?)

The mentality of government, decision makers, businesses and families in this country is to serve only the rich and middle class families while ignoring singles, low income and no income individuals and families.   When reading or listening to articles on housing for families, families will always talk about how important their housing is for them in regards to entertaining and maintaining close ties to friends and families.  They talk about how their ‘hearts are eternally and inexplicably changed’ when bearing their children, but same hearts appear to become ‘hearts of stone’ when these same children become adult singles, low income or no income persons and families.  The greed of business decisions takes over from family values and these disadvantaged persons are tossed out or are considered less important or non-existant in financial  formulas and decision-making processes.

Housing is just one example.  Those with the money and decision making powers continue the NIMBY mentality where they do not want to see tiny houses or condos in their precious spaces.  When tiny condos are built, for example 200 square feet, the purchasers of these spaces are often forced to pay more on less square foot living space and less take-home income than families paying for houses (thus violating Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs).  One example is a complex in Calgary where the 532 square foot condo is $299,900 or $543 per square foot, and the 1830 square foot condo begins at $649,900 or $355 per square foot.  The higher cost per square foot means that tiny space purchasers also will pay proportionately more real estate fees, education fees, house taxes and mortgage interest payments because all these fees are based on the cost of the housing, not square footage.  (See November 13,2015 post “Upside Down Finances re Housing for Singles and Low Income” – how is this any different than loan sharking or payday loans?)

Calgary Herald December 16, 2015 article “Nothing New from housing collective” (housing-affordability) (a study going on for 14 months) states:

’Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he’s unhappy with the city’s Community Housing Affordability Collective strategy, but hopeful  it’s members now understand the ‘time for talk is over.’

Talk, talk, talk, and study after study without action is just meaningless rhetoric.  In this so called democratic, civilized country all persons, whether they are immigrants or Canadian-born, single or married, male or female, low income or no income deserve the same financial dignity and respect such as being included in financial formulas.  All individuals deserve a living wage job and a place to  live in just like the rich and middle class families.

(This blog is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice).

 

SENIOR SINGLES PAY MORE -Part 1 of 4

SENIOR SINGLES PAY MORE – Part 1 of 4

These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to be used as personal or financial advice.

(The next four posts will consist of four parts. Parts 1 and 2 will be two published Opinion letters, Part 3 will be two Opinion letters published by readers in response to letter in Part 2. Part 4 will be author’s response to the two reader letters in Part 3.)

(This Opinion letter was published in a local newspaper on June 24, 2015. The Conservative party was ousted by the Liberal party in the October, 2015 election. Proper names have been removed. Since published letters are restricted to number of words that can be published, some additional information is added in italics to this article.)

In the June 17, 2015 edition of a local newspaper, a Conservative Member of Parliament states that the Conservatives remain committed to seniors through various measures they have implemented since 2006. This includes targeted tax relief where a single senior can now earn $20,360 and a senior couple $40,720 before paying federal income tax. He states that approximately 400,000 seniors (or 7 to 8% of total Canadian seniors) have been removed from the tax rolls altogether, (he neglects to state federal tax rolls only). This year, he says there is more good news for seniors by reducing the minimum withdrawal for RRIFs (Registered Retirement Income Funds) and introducing a new Home Accessibility Tax Credit (this neglects to recognize that not all seniors own homes).

The above so called tax relief benefit for seniors allows federal tax relief for senior singles equal to $1,697 per month and for senior couples $3,393 per month. The tax relief for senior singles hardly covers a rent or mortgage payment of $1,200 and $250 for food per month (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need), but amply covers this amount for a senior couple. For a couple $1200 for rent or mortgage and $500 for food leaves $1693 (or 50% of $40,000) for other necessities and maybe even a nice little vacation all tax free.

The BMO Retirement Institute Report-Retirement for One-By Chance or Design 2009 bmo.com/pdf and cifps.ca/Public/Media/PDF states the following:

‘the present tax system is set up to give a huge advantage to married/coupled people with singles who were never married or were divorced at some point throughout their entire working career usually subsidizing married/coupled people’. (It is interesting to note that this statement in the original article appears to have been removed and is no longer present in URL shown above).

From Russell Investments ‘Spending Patterns in Retirement’, February 2010 russell.com it is stated that:

‘government transfers, such as CPP and OAS are generally not sufficient to cover the Essentials of Retirement-less than 70% coverage for the average retiree, and as a little as 30% for higher-income retirees. This problem is magnified for single retirees. For example, in the $35,000-$60,000 income category, couples spend only about 12% more than singles on essentials (i.e. food, housing, and clothing), yet receive about 80% more in government transfers’.

The senior population includes about 13% of ‘ever’ single seniors (never married, divorced or widowed) and divorced single seniors (the younger persons are when divorced, the more likely they are to be poor as seniors) and about 43% widowers, (who receive marital manna benefits like pension splitting while married and survivor pension benefits). It is a well-documented fact that singles require 60 to 70% income of married/coupled people depending on whether they rent or own a home with 70% likely being the more accurate figure (Moneysense, BMO Retirement Institute Report-Retirement for One-By Chance or Design, etc.).

So how does the Conservative tax relief program for seniors help ever-single seniors? It doesn’t. Instead, with the addition of marital manna benefits such as pension splitting and survivor benefits, individuals/singles are financially made to be not even 50% worthy of total married/coupled tax relief, but rather less than 50% of married/coupled tax relief. And immigrant families are also financially made to be more income worthy than Canadian-born and immigrant senior individuals/singles.

Governments, businesses and society all talk about ‘family, family, family’, but singles continue to be ‘kicked out’ or deemed ‘less worthy’ than married/coupled people in the ‘family’. The Conservative Prime Minister, Finance Minister, and Members of Parliament remain financially illiterate in individual/singles financial affairs.

The continued financial discrimination of singles must be eliminated by recognizing what it truly costs for ever-singles and divorced/separated senior singles to live in this country. If programs such as pension splitting for married/coupled seniors and survivor benefits for widows continue to be added, then at the same time, ever-single and divorced single seniors must be given equal financial status through enhanced programs such as GIS and 60-70% enhancement of singles’ income baselines over married/coupled person’s and widow baselines. Sixty per cent of couples’ tax relief $40,720 income equals $24,432 ($2,036 per month) and 70% of $40,720 equals $28,504 ($2,375 per month).

The Conservative Member of Parliament’s article is titled ‘Seniors play an increasingly important role in our society’. Unfortunately, married/coupled and widowed seniors are deemed to play a more financially important role than ever-singles or divorced/separated early in life singles even though singles have supported married/coupled and widowed persons throughout their lifetime through contributions by paying more taxes and getting less in benefits.

The senior population of Canada includes only about 13% of singles and divorced/separated persons, while widows comprise 43% of the senior population. If the marital manna benefits were taken away from the widowed persons (who by the way could now be considered to be living a ‘single’ lifestyle since they are now technically ‘single’) they would be on a more equal instead of a greater financial footing to ever singles and divorced/separated persons. Or, if looked at from another perspective since ever singles and divorced/separated persons comprise only 13% of the senior population, would it really cost that much more to give them the same financial benefits as widows? As citizens of this country senior ever singles and divorced/separated persons deserve and should be treated with same financial respect as widowed seniors.

To continue the common sense and critical thinking of this article, a simple rephrasing of the information is as follows:  Governments need to top up tax free amount for ‘ever’ singles and early divorced/separated senior persons to from $20,0000 to $28,000 (70% of $40,000) plus give to ‘ever’ singles and early divorced/separated persons 70% of whatever benefits are given to widowed persons.  To do nothing or less than this only continues the financial discrimination already been committed against ‘ever’ singles and divorced/separated persons.

LOST DOLLARS LIST’

Since it costs ‘ever’ single and divorced/separated seniors with rent or mortgage about 70% – 75% of married/couple seniors’ income, lost dollars of 70% for $20,000 extra that married/coupled seniors get tax free or $6,000 per year (age 65 to 90) will be added to the list.  Total value of dollars lost will be $150,000 ($6,000 times 25 for years age 65 to 90).

 

The blog posted here is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles. It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.

    

DISCRIMINATORY STATEMENT ‘MARRIAGE IS ANSWER TO POVERTY’

KATHLEEN PARKER’S DISCRIMINATORY STATEMENT MARRIAGE IS ANSWER TO POVERTY

These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to be used as personal or financial advice.

(In the Calgary Herald January 10, 2014 Kathleen Parker published an editorial letter called ‘Spouses are foot soldiers in war on poverty’. The following article was sent to the Calgary Herald as a response to this letter but was never published. Parker’s opinion can be viewed online at Kathleen Parker, Jewish World Review, January 15, 2014 ‘The War on Poverty’s secret weapon’. (kathleen/parker.archives.asp)

RE: Opinion by Kathleen Parker – Spouses are foot soldiers in war on poverty, Calgary Herald, January 10, 2014

It is mind bending and insulting on how governments, society and media continue to discriminate against singles and promote the marriage myth as an answer to poverty. This article is offensive to singles who are divorced, separated because of violent abusive marriages or widowed.

For the reporter who states that some fall into poverty simply because of luck and devaluation of the old idea that marriage is good for everyone, here is a completely new idea. Singles are poor because they are financially discriminated against every day of their lives.

The state of being unmarried as one of the highest single factors for poverty is only because government, society and media choose to keep singles in financial poverty while married people are given financial manna benefits from date of marriage until date of death.

One very good example among many is pension plans. Singles are told they don’t need the same financial amount to live as married people, but are forced to overpay at least three times for their pensions by paying more taxes than married people, forced to support survivor benefits because spouses have not paid extra for survivor benefits, and on pension withdrawal again pay more taxes, and cannot pension split. Survivors become ‘single’ when spouses decease, so why do they need survivor benefits?

Simple exercises taking financial information for singles versus married people (i.e. the Financial Post Personal Financial Evaluations in the Calgary Herald) further show the devastation of financial discrimination against Canadian singles. Information analysis supports the general rule that married people win every time because government and society have made it so.

‘Marrying for money pays off’  (researchnews.osu.) and ‘High Price of Being Single in America’ (high-price-of-being-single-in-america) further support the cornucopia of perks, privileges and benefits available exclusively to married people in Canada and the USA, countries that are supposedly more advanced and civilized in eliminating discrimination.

It is time to let singles as humans (and in their humanity equal to married people) rather than marital status be their qualification for basic dignities such as financial and social well-being. How about financial fairness for all regardless of marital status as a solution to poverty?

The blog posted here is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles. It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.


UPSIDE DOWN FINANCES RE HOUSING FOR SINGLES AND LOW INCOME – PART 3 OF 3

UPSIDE DOWN FINANCES RE HOUSING FOR SINGLES AND LOW INCOME- PART 3 of 3 LOST DOLLAR VALUE LIST AND PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT

These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to be used as personal or financial advice.

As stated in Part 1 and 2 of this series, one example of financial unfairness is condos presently being developed in Calgary by a developer including 1 bed, 1 bath, 1 patio micro-condo of 552 sq. ft. with starting price of $299,900. Two patio, 2 bed, 2 full bath, 2 story 1232 sq. ft. condos were already sold out so price not available. Then there are 2 patio, 3 bed, 2.5 bath, 2 and 3 story 1830 sq. ft. condos priced from $649,900 to $749,900. Apparently, ultra-deluxe model has master bedroom suite covering entire third 600 sq. ft. floor. The third floor bedroom is bigger than total square footage of $299,900 condo. When price per square foot is calculated, micro-condo is selling for $543 per sq. ft. while three bed condos are selling from $355 to $409 per sq. ft.

Average square footage of Canadian house is 1950 sq. ft. (2010) so how can a developer socially, morally and ethically justify charging $150 to $200 more per square foot for two-thirds less space? “CREB now” http://www.crebnow.com/, Aug. 28 to Sept. 3, 2015, page A5, talks about Calgary developer selling 440 sq. ft. condos in north inner city tower for $149,000 ($339 per sq. ft.) in 2012 and 440 sq. ft. condos in south inner city tower for $219,000 ($498 per sq. ft.) in 2015. Two and three hundred sq. ft. condos are now being sold in Vancouver and Toronto for around $250,000 ($1250 and $833 per sq. ft. respectively). Salaries for low income and singles has not risen to same level, nor has Canadian housing for the middle class and rich ($400,000 and up (except perhaps in Vancouver).

So who is more likely to buy micro-condos? Possibly low income couples, single parent with one child, or environmentally conscious, and probably an individual/single person. Who gets to pay $150 to $200 more per square foot for two-thirds less space? Ripple effects are owners of micro-condos have to proportionately pay more house taxes, education taxes, mortgage interest and real estate fees on less house and less take home pay for biggest lifetime expense. When it is sold, will seller recoup buying price?

To further magnify the issue, lottery in major northern Alberta city has first grand lottery prize of $2,092,000 for 6,490 sq. ft. house ($322 per sq. ft.), second grand prize of $1,636,000 for 5,103 sq. ft. house ($321 per sq. ft.), and third grand prize of $1,558,000 for 5,097 sq. ft. house ($306 per sq. ft.). First house has elevator, games/theatre area, kid’s lounge, gym, and music room. Second house has hockey arena with bleacher seating, lounge and bar. Third house has spa, gym, yoga studio, juice bar and media room. Need anything more be said about the rich? They always get more while paying less and acquiring choicest spots.

As stated in a recent real estate article, Watermark, a deluxe complex in Calgary is selling an ‘inspired’ (so stated in article) 8,644 sq. ft. estate home and its guest house for $3.45 million or $399 per square foot which is less per square feet than 600 square foot condo mentioned above. Article goes on to say that beyond homes, Watermark garners interest with both natural and man-made beauty. It has 17 cascading ponds and more than five kilometers of interconnected walking and bike trails. Then there’s the central plaza with its 1,000 sq. ft. pavilion, kitchen, barbecues, a sports field and NBA-sized basketball court. One family’s daughter is looking forward to booking the plaza and using the outdoor kitchen for her birthday party. The family goes on to state that space between homes and low density was also very important so they weren’t looking into someone’s back yard. This same complex has a show home with 17 sinks.

Another real estate article talks about another family with three children moving from 1900 sq. ft. house to a 2,837 sq. ft. house with price starting from $900,000s. They are moving because they need more room for the kids as they grow. Their new house will provide 567 sq. ft. per person at a starting price of approximately $317 per sq. ft. Yet again other articles state that owners are happy they don’t have condos in their back yard and their children can experience nature from their own bedrooms.

Further advice usually given by married people states singles can live with someone else if they can’t afford housing when they are already living in studio, one bedroom apartments, and basement suites. Senior singles who have lived productive lives while contributing to their country want and deserve their own privacy and bathroom. Many senior assisted living dwellings have in recent years built more spaces for singles who with one income pay more for that space than married/coupled persons. Just how long should shared arrangements go on for (entire lives?) instead of correcting underlying financial issues?

Following examples show dignity and respect for singles (and low income families). Attainable Housing http://www.attainyourhome.com/, Calgary, allows maximum household income of $90,000 for single and dual/parent families with dependent children living in the home and maximum household income of $80,000 for singles and couples with no dependent children living in the home. Living Wage for Guelph and Wellington livingwagecanada allows singles dignity of one bedroom apartment and a living wage income that is 44% of a family of 4 income and 62% of a family of two (parent and child).

While singles are living in their small spaces (average size of new studio, one bed and one bed/den new condo combined being built in Toronto is 697 sq. feet), majority of Canadian married/coupled people and families are living in average 1950 sq. foot houses (2010) with large gourmet kitchens, multiple bathrooms, bedrooms for each child and guests, basement, garage, yard, and nice patio with barbecue, etc.

LOST DOLLARS VALUE LIST

For a 700 square foot condo where price is $50 more per square foot than lowest price of largest condo in complex, it can be assumed that the purchaser will be paying $35,000 more than purchaser’s base price of largest condo, if the price per square foot is $100 more per square foot then purchaser will be paying be paying $70,000 more, if the price per square foot is $150 more per square foot then purchaser will be paying $105,000 more and so on. The amount of house and education taxes, real estate fees and mortgage interest will also incrementally increase.

Our Lost Dollar Value List is still a work in progress, but when lost dollar value for real estate is added to the list, $50 will be used as the example as well as gestimate loss for taxes and real estate fees, interest charges based on $50.00 per sq. ft.

PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT

There seems to be very little understanding of the psychological impact that decision makers and policy makers have on singles regarding housing.

Many families live in houses where their young children have separate bedrooms, and likewise, there is a trend towards ‘man caves’ and ‘she sheds’ so family members can have ‘alone’ time, but when children become single adults, singles are consistently told that they can live with someone if they have financial problems with housing while paying more.

And, of course, singles never have claustrophobia, so it is okay to stick them in small spaces for which they have to pay more. And singles never have problems with noise, so it is okay for them to live in small units in less desirable areas close to airports and railway tracks, etc. (As one single person moving from one unit to another stated in a real estate article “I was very impressed with the pricing and the fact that they’re doing concrete floors and walls “. Concrete is said to restrict noise. “I work on Saturday mornings and a lot of people like to stay up a little later on Friday and Saturday nights”. With thinner walls, he adds, it is easier to hear “people in the hallways coming and going. It is not the end of the end of the world, by any means, but I am looking forward to something quieter above and below”. But for this person, the decision was less about sound and more about getting something larger, with better specifications and closer to work-moving from 615 sq. ft. two bedroom condo to 715 sq. ft. two bedroom condo. “The bedrooms are a little bit bigger with an ensuite. I really liked that and I liked the fact that it has a washer and dryer so I don’t have to go to the laundromat.”

Singles deserve same standard of living as married/coupled persons, i.e. having washer and dryer in their own home instead of  having to go  down a dark hall or to basement to do laundry or paying  per load at a laundromat.

When reading or listening to articles on housing for families, families will always talk about how important their housing is for them in regards to creating memories for their children, entertaining and maintaining close ties to friends and families, but apparently adult singles don’t have friends and families, so it is okay for them to live in micro condos, some as small as 200 square feet, where it is pretty much impossible to entertain or have friends and families stay with them.

SOLUTION

Singles and low income persons need to become more aware of financial unfairness by taking pricing down to the lowest common denominator, i.e. price per square foot and speak out about the financial atrocities being directed towards them. They need to start questioning why they are being targeted to pay more while getting less.  (While it is recognized that it is expensive to raise children, adult to adult it is also unfair to make one segment of the population like singles and the disadvantaged pay more than another segment).

The blog posted here is of a general nature about financial discrimination of singles. It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.

UPSIDE-DOWN FINANCES RE HOUSING FOR SINGLES AND LOW-INCOME-PART 1 OF 3

These thoughts are purely the blunt, no nonsense personal opinions of the author and are not intended to be used as personal or financial advice.

UPSIDE DOWN FINANCES OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING SINGLES AND LOW INCOME-PART 1 of 3

Why does it seem more difficult for individuals/singles and low income persons to purchase affordable housing?  For possible reasons why, consider the following scenarios.

One example, condos presently being developed in Calgary by a developer in one housing complex includes 1 bed, 1 bath, 1 patio micro-condos of 552 sq. ft. with starting price of $299,900.  Two patio, 2 bed, 2 full bath, 2 story 1232 sq. ft. condos were already sold out so price not available.  Then there are 2 patio, 3 bed, 2.5 bath, 2 and 3 story 1830 sq. ft. condos priced from $649,900 to $749,900.  Apparently, ultra-deluxe model has master bedroom suite covering entire third 600 sq. ft. floor.  The third floor bedroom is bigger than total square footage of $299,900 condo.  When price per square foot is calculated, micro-condo is selling for $543 per sq. ft. while three bed condos are selling from $355 to $409 per sq. ft.

So who is more likely to buy micro-condos?  Possibly low income couples, single parent with one child, or environmentally conscious, and probably an individual/single person.  Who gets to pay $150 to $200 more per square foot for two-thirds less space?  Ripple effects are owners of micro-condos have to proportionately pay more house taxes, education taxes, mortgage interest and real estate fees on less house and less take home pay for biggest lifetime expense.  When it is sold, will seller recoup buying price?

To further magnify the issue, lottery in major northern Alberta city has first grand lottery prize of $2,092,000 for 6,490 sq. ft. house ($322 per sq. ft.), second grand prize of $1,636,000 for 5,103 sq. ft. house ($321 per sq. ft.), and third grand prize of $1,558,000 for 5,097 sq. ft. house ($306 per sq. ft.).  First house has elevator, games/theatre area, kid’s lounge, gym, and music room. Second house has hockey arena with bleacher seating, lounge and bar.  Third house has spa, gym, yoga studio, juice bar and media room.  Need anything more be said about the rich? They usually get more while paying less and acquiring choicest spots.

Average square footage of Canadian house is 1950 sq. ft. (2010) so how can a developer socially, morally and ethically justify charging $150 to $200 more per square foot for two-thirds less space?  “CREB now”, Aug. 28 to Sept. 3, 2015, page A5, talks about Calgary developer selling 440 sq. ft. condos in north inner city tower for $149,000 ($339 per sq. ft.) in 2012 and 440 sq. ft. condos in south inner city tower for $219,000 ($498 per sq. ft.) in 2015.  Two and three hundred sq. ft. condos are now being sold in Vancouver and Toronto for around $250,000 ($1250 and $833 per sq. ft. respectively).  In many cases salaries for low income and singles has not risen to same level, nor has Canadian housing for the middle class and rich ($400,000 and up).

How is any of this different than loan-sharking or pay day loans where targeting of the most vulnerable occurs?

Article, “The Micro Units Movement” May 27, 2015 (smartergrowth) states

‘although micro units are cheaper on an absolute scale for buyers, they tend to be more valuable for developer on a per square foot basis.  Shawn Hildebrand, vice president of condo research firm Urbanation, says condos under 500 square feet can bring in well over $3 per square foot, while the rest of the market averages around $2.50 or $2.60′.

(Lies, lies and more lies-Mark Twain quote ‘there are three kinds of lies:  lies, damned lies and statistics’-it is more than $3).  Cheaper on absolute scale? (These tiny spaces are not cheaper for economies of scale.)  Why is it okay on any scale to financially rob the poor, low income, young people and singles in what will likely be most expensive purchase of their lives and affecting one of most basic principles of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, that is shelter?

MoneySense, September/October, 2015, (moneysense) ‘Two ways to cool white-hot home prices’ says as much by stating developers, motivated by profit, have built mostly smaller one and two bedroom units.  This article also talks about how concern should not be how much houses cost, but how out of reach home ownership for Canadians has become.

Further financial unfairness occurs when individual/single homeowners without children are forced to pay education taxes, but parents pay only fixed rate based on value of their home regardless of number of children.  For ‘nineteen kids and counting’ it is possible parents are only paying a few cents a day for their children’s education.  Some married/partnered seniors with kids are looking to have education tax payments eliminated from their house taxes.  For families with children, logic implies parents should pay education tax throughout their entire lifetime, or individuals/singles without kids should not have to pay education tax ever.  However, families don’t seem to be able to apply financial logic of their own finances equally to the financial realities of their single children.

There are many more examples of financial unfairness, but just the above few show how financial world for low-income families and individuals/singles has been completely flipped upside down and topsy-turvy.  Have governments, society, and our publicly and privately funded education systems failed us so miserably and family/corporate greed taken over with critical thinking, social/ethical responsible thinking sinking to all-time lows?  Since when is it okay under present financial system for families to accumulate wealth and huge inheritances while their low income and single children are not able to support themselves on a day to day basis?

Young individuals/singles not yet married are facing huge financial hurdles because of low incomes, less full time jobs, enormous education debt, and out of control housing costs.  Families (parents), governments, society, corporations, businesses to date have failed to provide support and responsibility that is needed to ensure all Canadian citizens are able to financially take care of themselves without financial parental aid, inheritances of parents and without bias of gender, race or marital status.

In this so called civilized, enlightened country of ours, it appears that citizens of value are only middle-income families and the rich while individuals/singles with and without children are being annihilated from financial, political, and everyday living scenes.  (Examples are present day TV home buying/renovation programs and married/coupled persons getting free homes in “Home Free” program.  Individuals/singles without children have been eliminated from these programs.  Why is this so-probably because they no longer have financial wherewithal to be part of this programming, just blatant discrimination or both?)

If families have such high family values, shouldn’t family values and moral social values take precedence instead of being trumped by almighty dollar greed and philosophy of charging what the market can bear and more?

Low income families, individuals/singles and young adults not yet married who can apply simple math and critical thinking skills are in financial despair and angst knowing that they, as the most vulnerable citizens of this country, have been targeted and pawned to pay more for housing than middle class families and the rich.

It is the duty of politicians elected by the people, for the people to represent all Canadian citizens, not just vote getting middle class families.  (MoneySense article-‘housing affordability for the many should take precedence over the political aspirations of a few’).  To stop gross financial discrimination of low-income families and individuals/singles, talk to your Member of Parliament and mayors about financial unfairness and the upside/down financial world you are being forced into particularly in the housing market.

The blog posted here is of a general nature about financial discrimination of individuals/singles.  It is not intended to provide personal or financial advice.