B.C. Budget Lacks Long-Term Affordable Housing Plan

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B.C. Budget Lacks Long-Term Affordable Housing Plan

Housing advocates propose Renters Grant as solution to support renters

Housing advocates are urging the provincial government to continue investing in affordable housing for all British Columbians and consider a new approach to rent supplements that would combine many existing programs into one monthly Renters Grant.

“The one-time investment in affordable housing provided by the B.C. government last year is a huge first step,” said Kishone Roy, CEO of B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association. “But there was almost no new money in Budget 2017 for renters, nor a long term plan to build affordable rental housing, despite increasing population and demand for housing.”

In addition to developing a permanent building program, BCNPHA and other partners in B.C.’s Rental Housing Coalition are recommending the province reconsider the way it supports renters. Currently there are a number of different supports and supplements for renters, including the Rental Assistance Program, the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER), shelter rates for people on income assistance and persons with a disability, as well as those in transition from homelessness or fleeing violence. One solution to reduce administration and pass those savings on to renters would be to combine existing programs into one ‘Renters Grant.’

“As B.C.’s population surges, it is critical that the province continue to partner in building new rental supply of all types, particularly social housing that addresses homelessness. However, increasing that supply is difficult under current rent supplement programs and income assistance that only offers $375 toward shelter for people in the deepest need,” added Roy. “We believe that both building new supply and providing more direct support to renters are necessary to tackle the affordable housing crisis.”

“The data on rental households in BC includes more than 14,700 co-op homes.  Housing co-ops are mixed-income communities and they include more than 4,000 low-income households who depend on some form of government assistance to keep their homes affordable. Most of the agreements providing this assistance will end in the next five years, and co-ops are looking to the provincial budget for news of a long-term rent supplement solution that will help to ensure that thousands of low-income residents don’t lose their homes, said Thom Armstrong, Executive Director of the Co-op Housing Federation of B.C. and a partner in Housing Central.

“Delivered monthly, this grant could be a cost-effective way for government to streamline administration and increase support for those in need while new supply is being built. While affordable housing is the number one issue in the province for British Columbians, and the budget includes hundreds of millions of dollars for homeowners, it offers little for renters. This proposal would give government a tool to support renters as well,” said Roy.

This spring, the BC Rental Housing Coalition will be releasing an affordable housing plan for the province that will quantify what needs to be built, where and how much it will cost. We will be looking for the province to join the federal government, municipalities, churches, charities, co-ops and non-profits who are all are raising money to build new affordable housing supply. The combination of new supply and increased support for renters will form the foundation of that plan.

Investing in affordable housing and forming creative partnerships are a significantly better choice to addressing the province’s housing problems than paying for the higher costs of health, poverty and homelessness.

For information, or to set up an interview please contact:

Dean Pogas, Director of Communications, BCNPHA

DIRECT 778.945.2163         CELL 604.363.6590

About Housing Central

Housing Central brings together the BC Non-Profit Housing Association (BCNPHA), Co-op Housing Federation of BC (CHF BC) Co-op Housing Federation of Canada (CHF Canada), Encasa Financial, Community Land Trust and COHO Management Services Society. Housing Central collaborates on cross-sector partnerships that help impact public, policy, media awareness and deliver world-class education and events to support its vision of a safe, affordable home for everyone.

About BCNPHA

Formed 25 years ago, BCNPHA is the industry association for the social housing sector in BC.  It represents, educates and provides service to more than 700 non‐profit housing providers that operate more than 60,000 units of long and short‐term affordable housing across the province.    

About CHF BC

CHF BC is a co‐operative association made up of member housing co‐ops and related organizations in B.C. The association represents 264 co‐op communities (comprising more than 14,500 households) across the province.

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