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Art by Annie Gugliotta

Broken housing markets could shape US and Canadian elections

The United States and Canada share hundreds of billions in annual trade, a deep defense relationship, the world’s longest undefended land border, and an affordability crisis that threatens to upend political fortunes. At the heart of that problem is housing. As both countries grapple with inflation and rising interest rates, the cost of shelter and the risk of foreclosures are rising.

The causes of unaffordable housing include a complex mix of under-supply (itself caused by several things), urbanization, marketization and speculation, immigration, population growth, temporary foreign workers, international students, and natural barriers. But whatever the cause, the US and Canada are both millions short on needed housing stock.

For President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, unaffordable shelter presents both a policy challenge and a political liability, especially as each faces looming elections. Biden is up for reelection in late-2024, and Trudeau must face voters by the fall of 2025.

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