The B.C. government has announced $355 million will be invested in creating up to 2,000 new affordable housing units.
Premier Christy Clark says the boost is the largest single investment into affordable housing in B.C. history.
Who will benefit?
“Senior citizens would certainly fit in that category. People who are struggling with addiction. People who are struggling with mental illness, which would probably more likely fall into the supportive housing category. This is support for a range of housing right across the board.”
Clark says the money will be doled out over five years to create about 2,000 new affordable housing units.
” There is a real shortage of housing across the lower mainland for all of them. We know there is a big issue with respect to the cost of housing in the lower mainland. This is intended to help alleviate that.”
The non-profit industry welcomes the influx of cash, but it says more needs to be done.
CEO of the non-profit housing association Tony Roy says all this money for the affordable housing is great, but…
“…at the end of the day, a good economy means that we’re a growing economy, and there’s going to be more people living here. There’s going to be more immigration, there’s going to be more opportunities to bring in refugees. Families are going to be growing, and if we don’t have a stable program for social housing, then we’ll do this work, and then we’ll continue to dig the hole back again, and then wonder why we’re buried.”
Roy says investment in transit needs to be linked to housing.
“So we are going to end up building skytrains going one way and housing in a completely different area. What I don’t want to see with this money or with the federal money is billions of dollars going into transit and then billions of dollars going into social housing but nobody who needs transit can afford to live along those transit lines. That is what is happening in Coquitlam right now, that is what happened in Surrey, it is what is happening in Richmond.”
That said, he calls this money – and what he expects to be a massive windfall from the feds – a once-in-a-generation opportunity when it comes to affordable housing in Metro Vancouver.
Clark adds also concerning is the migration of young families out of Metro Vancouver.
“We need to address taxes. In some cases a $100,000 that the cities put on the cost of every single unit. The property purchase tax has an impact on every single unit. There is a huge range of solutions we can think about and we are thinking about all of them.”
She says municipalities also need to increase there supply of housing.
“We are seeing a huge pressure. So there are a whole number of things. One of them is the supply of housing and the demand for housing is completely out of balance and only cities can address that. So cities need to increase the supply of housing in general because when there is more supply price goes down.”
But Roy disagrees and says the money won’t stem the exodus of young people and families out of Metro Vancouver.
Roy says without stable funding for social housing then it won’t be long before we are back in the hole.
“We’re going to have spend the next little while saying ‘what’s going to happen when this comes to an end’, because this money right now is going to help maintain some of the existing sites, it’ll help some of the deep and traumatic stuff, but it’s not going to build the long-term stable and rental housing that’s needed to prevent this migration of people out of Vancouver.”