NDP politicians sidestep Green leader's question on systemic racism in housing market with intergenerational wealth

The attorney general and minister responsible for housing, David Eby, remained seated as the finance minister stood up to respond

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      There's one aspect of the housing market that's particularly galling for many young people.

      They see some of their peers buying homes with a great deal of financial help from parents and grandparents.

      But for those young people who don't come from wealthy families, they feel that they're being dealt out of ever becoming homeowners.

      On November 4, Green Leader Sonia Furstenau wanted to know if the B.C. NDP government "has a stance on the role and impact of intergenerational wealth transfer in the housing market".

      "In the last year, parents in Canada gave their kids more than $10 billion in down payment help," Furstenau said in the preamble to her question in the legislature, according to the draft Hansard transcript.

      "On average, parents gave $82,000 to help their kids buy a house, but fewer than 30 percent of first-time homebuyers got this help. It's a lot of money," she added.

      "I know that every parent would want to help their child if they could, especially in a housing market as out of reach as B.C.'s, where it can take 35 years to save for a down payment," the Green leader continued. "But not all parents have access to the same resources, and B.C.'s housing crisis is exacerbating the inequality."

      She directed her inquiry to Attorney General David Eby, who's also the minister responsible for housing.

      But Eby did not stand up to respond.

      Instead, Finance Minister Selina Robinson replied, noting that she appreciated the member's question.

      "In addressing affordability here in British Columbia, particularly when it comes to the housing market, it continues to be a priority for our government," Robinson said. "We've taken significant steps in our first few years in government to bring stability to the housing market. We've had some positive results. Certainly, we've seen through the pandemic increased volatility in the market. That's why one of the things we did after our re-election was to invest $2 billion in the HousingHub to bring affordable home ownership to bear.

      "That's a significant investment," the minister continued. "That's on top of the 30,000 homes that are already either open or under development or being built. That's a significant investment in housing affordability. There is certainly much more for us to do, and we're eager to continue doing that work."

      Furstenau asks another question

      Furstenau thanked Robinson for listing these things, but said that the finance minister did not answer her question.

      "Racialized British Columbians, for example, tend to earn less, are less likely to receive income from capital gains and investments and are more likely to be housing disadvantaged," Furstenau followed up, according to the draft transcript.

      "We lack race-based data, and I know government is currently holding an engagement period on that. But even without the data, it's not a stretch to infer that in B.C.'s overblown housing market, intergenerational wealth is a key factor, and racialized British Columbians are being left behind."

      Then the Green leader asked her seconcd question on this matter: "To the Attorney General and minister for housing, what does he believe government's role is in addressing the impacts of intergenerational wealth and systemic racism in the housing market?"

      Once again, Eby chose not to reply, even though, as attorney general, he's responsible for ushering in antiracism legislation.

      Instead, it was Robinson who stood up a second time to parry away the question.

      Again, Robinson mentioned the HousingHub. You can read Robinson's full response below, according to the draft transcript.

      "She said we are gathering the data to better understand how to address the situation, and I know that the member appreciates good data, so that work is being undertaken.

      "I want to provide members of the House with an example of how the HousingHub is working. Morgan is a 27-year-old who works in non-profit and has a university degree, stable income, a partner, has some savings. Owning a home was just actually very, very difficult for her and her partner.

      "Last summer Morgan found a partnership with B.C. Housing and Chard Development that would match buyers' some form of down payment on a presale condo and, as part of the HousingHub, with support, was able to get more support for the other part of the down payment.

      "You know what that meant for her? It meant that the down payment matching program changed everything for her. This is a quote. She said: 'I couldn't believe it. The 10 percent down payment was suddenly possible, and it was amazing to think that my partner and I could really own a home in a city that we love, right here in Victoria.' She's excited and grateful for the opportunity, and she and her partner will be moving into their condo in 2023."

      That led Furstenau to issue the following tweets about that exchange: