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.