With the newly released federal budget, the government is promising to do no less than “ensure every Canadian has a safe and affordable place to call home.”
And they’ll be paying $11-billion over the next decade to meet that promise.
Their pledge comes amid a housing affordability crisis in the Lower Mainland, which has pushed many lower-income citizens out of the market.
Kishone Roy, the CEO of the BC Non-Profit Housing Association says the budget comes close to having a long-called-for national housing strategy.
“It means that the federal government is back in the business of affordable housing.”
READ MORE: Federal Budget highlights 2017
Roy says the plan is a promising change of pace.
“They’ve been on the sidelines for more than two decades while mass homelessness rose throughout the country but particularly here in British Columbia… now we’ll be able to start to estimate what things will look like in 10 years.”
As to how that money will be spent, the government says it will “prioritize support for vulnerable citizens, including seniors, Indigenous Peoples, survivors fleeing domestic violence, people with disabilities, mental health issues, and veterans.”
That spending is expected to start in the next fiscal year.
Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner says she’s thrilled at the money, and says while she hasn’t seen the details, she’s spoken with social development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and was told cities will benefit.
“I was assured that there would be opportunities for if there are partners that want to develop housing projects, that they would be looking at partner opportunities as well.”
Meanwhile, B.C. Finance Minister Mike de Jong gave his thoughts on the funding announcement.
According to de Jong, owning a safe and affordable home may not be possible for some British Columbians.
“We also have to recognize that for some people that won’t happen or can’t happen. So ensuring that there is affordable rental accommodation available is kind of a multi-faceted challenge that we face.”
As to how much of the federal government’s $11-billion will go towards tackling that challenge? de Jong says that’s still up in the air.
With files from Jeremy Lye