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Why the dream of homeownership is fading for many Calgarians

As the dream of homeownership dims for many Calgarians, stories like Ryan Fehr's are increasingly common. Fehr, a 40-year-old single dad, found himself longing for a place to call his own amid Calgary's unpredictable rental market and falling house prices during the pandemic. Despite earning nearly $100,000 a year as a foreman, challenges like childcare closures during COVID-19 pushed him to consider living with his parents to save money.

Initially viewing it as a temporary solution, Fehr soon faced the harsh reality of Calgary's soaring housing costs. Despite diligent searching and attending viewings, he found himself priced out of the market, with properties quickly selling for well above asking prices. Even considering areas outside the city for affordability proved futile due to long commutes and escalating prices.

Fehr's experience mirrors a broader trend in Alberta, where skyrocketing property prices have dashed the hopes of many prospective buyers. An Ipsos poll revealed that a significant majority of Canadians who don't own property have given up on the dream of homeownership. In Alberta, a surge in oil prices attracted a wave of newcomers, exacerbating the housing crisis.

Factors contributing to the housing affordability crisis include lengthy permitting processes, construction delays, and rising costs for labor and materials. While wage growth fails to keep pace with price increases, hopeful buyers like Fehr pin their hopes on a potential downturn in the market. However, efforts to lower prices face resistance from current homeowners protective of their investments.

The shift towards viewing homeownership as a financial asset rather than a social good began in the 1980s, marked by government cuts to affordable housing programs and incentives to promote homeownership. This ideological shift, away from public welfare and towards individual responsibility, has reshaped the landscape of housing in Canada.

Despite decades of public investment in affordable housing, the current crisis underscores the challenges faced by many Canadians in achieving homeownership. As stories like Fehr's become more prevalent, it prompts a reevaluation of housing policies and economic priorities to ensure that the dream of homeownership remains attainable for all Canadians.



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