As low income and working residents of Vancouver continue to face the devastating consequences of an affordable housing crisis, many of us grapple with how this happened and how we can change it. Unfortunately an ugly part of Vancouver’s racist history is rearing its head yet again when media attribute the cause of the lack of affordable housing to the imaginary throes of invading Asian investors. Thankfully some people have researched and debunked the myth of the Asian invaders and through their research bring light to how these racist ideas distract from the real culprits responsible for the lack of affordable housing.
Research published by the Mainlander in April 2011 points to the elite in our own backyard who are selling our neighborhoods and homes from under us to the highest bidder. The Mainlander article cites a 2010 global financial report that puts Vancouver at the very top of a list of the world’s most corporate friendly cities. Vancouver City Council at the bidding of their capitalist buddies have created a real estate tax haven for the rich by deregulating the housing market and giving the most favourable tax subsidies in the world to local and global real estate investors. This is the real cause of the lack of affordable housing in Vancouver and the reason why people are forced to choose between paying rent or buying food and paying bills.
The research also states that in 2010, 70% of residential real estate investors in Vancouver were American and European firms and the record highest purchases of luxury real estate was by American and European investors.
In reality the cause of the affordability housing crisis are local: they are sitting in city hall, deregulating, gentrifying and giving massive tax breaks to the wealthy. The myth of the “wealthy Asian invaders” is not only a fallacy but also very damaging as it fuels anti-Asian racism within a city where almost half of low income people are Chinese including a sizeable population of Chinese elders. We must challenge ourselves and others to question the scapegoating of people based on their race and to recognize that the attempt to shift the blame only serves to distract from the fact that indeed it is City Hall that is selling us all out.