comments 3

A few thoughts about housing supply

Here are a few things to consider.

One, the home you live in was likely built by a person or company that was trying to make a profit.

Two, when your home was being developed and built, it probably upset a bunch of people. Both because something new was coming and because construction can be annoying.

Three, your home was built using materials and construction techniques that were readily available at the time. Some of those materials and techniques may no longer be practical.

Four, when your home was complete, somebody probably thought, “boy, they don’t build them like they used to.”

Five, the need for new housing doesn’t stop just because you now have a home.


  1. Can you please clarify what is the purpose of pointing the finger at people is?
    The tone of the post is pretty antagonistic – a lot of people living in any home are aware of housing inequity, and that’s exactly what some people are fighting for: to eliminate housing as a commodity. Just because it is how it is today doesn’t mean it has to continue being this way. There are many homes in the world that were not built for profit – that’s a wide assumption and only true for Capitalist economy.


  2. talayehh

    Why are you pointing the finger at people? Your tone is pretty hostile…people don’t owe it to developers.

    The fact that Capitalist economy has turned housing into a profit making machine doesn’t mean that it has to be like this. It is only in the recent history that housing has become a commodity. For centuries people lived in houses they built for themselves or state provided for them without looking for profit (current examples still exist in Berlin).

    Also, the fact that some people are profiting massively from people’s homes doesn’t entitle anyone to be condescending to people who believe housing shouldn’t be a commodity, criticize the poor quality of construction (specially in Canada) and no, for centuries we made progress in construction methods and materials and then when housing became the center of profit the construction quality dropped sharply.

    The need for housing is real, but developers as they are today are not the answer.


    • daniel b

      respectfully, the idea that housing quality has diminished is an absolute myth. Certainly luxury houses built in previous generations were of very high quality, however, if you tour a custom home in forest hill you’ll find that new very high end housing is also built to a very high quality. Production housing historically been of pretty low quality. Renovate one of the beautiful brick houses you see all over toronto and you’ll find they were built pretty shoddily. They’re still around because people put a lot of money into maintaining and renovating them, and because many of them are illegal to demolish. Housing has been a capitalistic endeavour for a long time, the people who built our most beloved neighbourhoods were developers who did it for money, these things have not changed. In fact, if you look at the biggest shift in the system between when our supposedly great neighbourhoods were built in decades past, and the supposedly financialized hellscapes we build today, the biggest delta is that cities were previously built with very little control over what the developers built, and now it is one of the most tightly regulated aspects of our economy.

      If perhaps you found Brandon’s post to be antagonistic (although if you found the pointing out of some basic truisms to be antagonistic then perhaps that says more about your preconceived notions than it does about his post), i would suggest that there is a fair bit of frustration on all sides with much of the dialogue around housing in Canada. For those on the inside of the industry, the dynamic is relatively straightforward – in our view, and the views of the economists and analysts we pay to advise us on where the market is going – we are chronically underbuilding housing relative to household formation. And while there are many solutions required to make the housing market work for our citizens, building a sufficient quantity of housing is the most fundamental bedrock of a healthy housing system. Simply put, if you build too little housing where people want to live, it is virtually guaranteed that any other set of solutions is going be insufficient to stop the worsening of the situation, much less actually improve it. That this basic fact, that we are building too little housing, is a hotly debated topic within progressive circles, is very frustrating for those of us who do, desperately, wish to see a better system where all Canadians are adequately housed.


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