I know I've been vegetating for too long. So long in fact that I was actually starting to enjoy watching reality TV. But one of the shows finally brought me back to my senses.
You know the one where people in other parts of North America agonize over buying a three-bedroom home for $300,000 or a condo in town for $150,000. And these homes aren't in Armpit, U.S.A., they're in places like Toronto and Philadelphia.
If that is reality TV, I wonder what viewers would say about housing prices here in Metro Vancouver-unreality?
The latest reports are that real estate costs in Metro Vancouver are the highest in North America. Think about it. We have higher prices than cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Fransisco, the cities that are the engines of the continental economy.
I'm not altogether sure why housing prices are so high here, although I can speculate. I do know, however, other cities have policies to encourage purpose-built rental housing. Not everyone wants to buy real estate; it can tie some people down.
Many young people haven't decided where to settle down and some professional jobs require that you move around a lot. Besides, not everyone can afford market rental housing.
People who work in the service industry often fill jobs that don't pay well. If you can rent close to work, you can walk or bus there and make a living. If not, you quit and find a job close to where you can afford to live.
A sustained lack of market rental housing and income-sensitive rental housing causes important repercussions in a community. Essential jobs are left unfilled, the working class moves away and the elite are left with no one to serve them.
If other cities can create complete communities for people in all walks of life, the City of Richmond should encourage innovative ways to create more rental housing for ordinary people.
I'd like to give best wishes and congratulate the valuable initiatives of these community service agencies.
To Turning Point Recovery Society, I wish them a neighbourhood of friendly faces for opening the first women's recovery home in Richmond. It was a long road, but women who are clean and sober have a welcoming place to reintegrate into their community.
To Touchstone Family Association, I wish them many family meals with lots of photos for kicking off their second year of "Families Eating Together." This successful program builds on the simple and proven concept that families that eat together stay together.
De Whalen is a longtime activist in Richmond who is involved in poverty response and affordable housing projects.