The ‘Right to Buy’

Canada, Housing Affordability, Paul Willetts, Publications

Executive Summary

• The issue of public housing provision in Winnipeg and other Canadian cities is currently of great political, economic and social importance.

• There are many different policy approaches that can be taken to address the issues of housing provision in society, as demonstrated by an examination of past and current policy approaches employed in Canada, the United States, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

• Provincial governments, including Manitoba use an approach to state housing provision based upon a system of rental agreements between the tenant and the government.

• This policy approach offers a limited set of options for those unable to purchase a house in the private housing market.

• In the United Kingdom during the 1980s the government formulated and implemented a housing policy called the ‘Right to Buy’ which entitled government tenants to turn their rental payments into mortgage payments at a below-market cost.

• This strategy allowed many citizens of the United Kingdom to eventually purchase their state-owned home and in doing so gain a significant source of wealth and financial security.

• Among the lessons from the U.K. Right to Buy policy for Canada

• It allows home owners to build wealth and financial security

• It creates a culture of pride in ownership

• It created an incentive to gain a skill or trade to carry the cost of owning the home

• It created an estate with capital that could be left to children

• Canadian provinces, particularly Manitoba, should adopt the ‘Right to Buy’ as a blueprint for the implementation of a similar program to improve the current housing situation and to allow people to become independent of the state for survival.

• The benefits of allowing state tenants to purchase their homes are massive: reducing reliance on the state, creating civic pride and a greater sense of social inclusion, improving neighbourhood appearance and safety and providing a basis for financial security.

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