Access to housing: the sacrificed generation

Access to housing: the sacrificed generation
Access to housing: the sacrificed generation

A dream that is “fading away”, “inaccessible” or simply “unrealistic”, the days go by and the newspaper headlines follow one another regarding access to property, which increasingly eludes of Quebecers.

The Institute of Statistics of Quebec even revealed, at the end of 2023, a first decrease in the property rate in Quebec since 1971. In other words, for 50 years, year after year, a growing number of our fellow citizens have accessed the real estate Grail then, in Barely five years old, the dream collapsed.

The drop, from 61.3% to 59.9%, may seem minimal. But behind these percentages, there are tens of thousands of young couples and families who had to put an X on this natural aspiration, which marked the post-war generation and the following.

Looking for solutions

In 2019, the median price of a single-family home in Quebec was $265,000. In April 2024, it was $540,800. Double, nothing less.

This incredible surge in real estate prices, combined with rising mortgage rates and the low number of housing starts in Quebec’s large urban centers, excludes a significant portion of the population, mainly made up of younger people. The numbers just don’t work anymore.

Real estate, as we know, has been for three generations one of the main vectors of wealth accumulation in Quebec. It ensures, through the gradual repayment of capital, a certain financial security, while allowing “healthy” debt, backed by property whose value tends to be stable. In fact, according to RBC, real estate represents almost 60% of Canadian household wealth.

Faced with the dizzying increase in down payments and monthly payments, many young people have given up on the project and find few interesting options. Of course, it is possible to save in other ways, but culturally, the symbolic place occupied by home ownership is difficult to replace.

Wealth, inequality: the sacrifice of a generation

Property is, in fact, not always the best investment if we examine it from the perspective of yield and profitability.

On the other hand, owning a property generates greater stability and greater predictability for the households that access it.

More stability also means more families, more children, more vitality in our towns and villages. There is therefore in the exclusion of young people from this property regime a real attack on what has constituted part of Quebec identity since the Quiet Revolution.

New models of wealth accumulation and financial security must be imagined and communicated more widely, since the housing crisis will not be resolved any time soon.

It’s a safe bet that, sooner or later, new political leaders will put an end to this situation and tackle the crisis head-on by boosting housing construction and access to start-up capital.

In the meantime, young people are right to feel “sacrificed” by our society and by our elected officials.

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