Ahmed Hussen, Canada's Minister of Housing / © Flickr.com
Ahmed Hussen, Canada's Minister of Housing, has recently made headlines by discreetly purchasing a second rental property. This move has sparked a wave of controversy and raised questions about potential conflicts of interest, given his role in overseeing the country's housing policies.
Hussen's disclosure statements now list him as the owner of two rental properties in Ottawa, one on Quest Private and another on Kijik Crescent. The second property was reportedly acquired on March 23, 2023, and is financed by two mortgages with CIBC.
A spokesperson from the Office of the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion confirmed that Hussen owns two rental units, which are rented to two families in the Ottawa area at rates below the market average. However, the office declined to comment when asked about the specifics of the rental charges and whether Hussen's tenants are his friends or family members.
The purchase of the second property has raised eyebrows, with some critics likening Hussen's investments to insider trading. As the Minister of Housing, Hussen has access to information about the housing market that is not available to the general public.
Neil Sharma, a housing expert and journalist, argues that Hussen should be focusing on addressing the lack of housing supply rather than profiting from it.
Shortly after the acquisition of his second rental property, Hussen appeared on TVO's The Agenda, where he was questioned about the potential conflict of interest. He responded by saying that he was "happy to be contributing to that housing supply."
However, Sharma countered this argument by stating that if Hussen was merely happy to provide rental housing, he should have no issue selling his units to other investors.
This would allow the tenants to continue living in the rental units and reassure Canadians that the country's Minister of Housing is not profiting from the ongoing housing crisis.
The controversy surrounding Hussen's property investments comes at a time when rental rates in Canada are skyrocketing. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto and Vancouver is around $2,500 a month. In Halifax, it's nearly $2,000, and in Calgary, it's $1,600.
Real estate broker Marco Pedri predicts that the average price for a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto could rise above $3,000 by 2030.
With the median after-tax household income in Canada standing at $73,000 and the average home price at $662,437, the housing affordability crisis is a pressing issue. In major cities like Vancouver and Toronto, it's hard to find houses priced under a million dollars.
As the Minister of Housing, Hussen's role is to address these challenges, but his recent property investments have raised questions about whether he is part of the solution or part of the problem.