On April 3rd, the Government of BC released a refreshed housing strategy for the province, Homes for People. The new strategy includes an update on actions the government has taken to meet the targets laid out in the 2018 Homes for BC plan and articulates a renewed plan for meeting the government’s ongoing housing goals.
The strategy provides further details on housing action previously mentioned in Budget 2023, released inFebruary, offering more information on the promise of $4 billion for housing solutions. For more on Budget 2023, see BCNPHA’s analysis here.
Understanding Where We Are and Where We Are Going
In 2018, the government announced a $6.6-billion investment to deliver 114,000 new homes over 10 years. Homes for People builds on that plan and boasts $4 billion in additional funds over the next three years and a commitment to invest $12 billion over the next decade.
Homes for People includes some previously announced items and some new initiatives. Here’s what we have our eyes on:
More homes will be delivered to British Columbians through various programs
- 6,000 new affordable rental homes for families and seniors through the Community Housing Fund
- A promise to double the homes delivered under the Indigenous Housing Fund and Women’s Transition Housing Fund (1,750 and 1,500 homes respectively)
- 3,900 additional supportive housing units for people who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of homelessness
- An MoU with Metro Vancouver to add 2,000 new homes in the region, in addition to current commitments
- 240 additional purpose-built Complex Care units at approximately 12 locations to support people with complex mental health and addictions challenges
- 4,000 more beds for students
- $394 million to purchase land in areas well served by transit
A focus will be placed on local government in terms of zoning and permitting
- New legislation will follow to allow 3 or 4 homes on single family lots province-wide
- $50 million will go to municipalities to help local governments implement zoning changes related to small-scale, multi-unit homes and secondary suites
- The permitting process will be digitized to save time and costs for new applications
- The implementation of the Housing Supply Act, under which 8 to 10 municipalities will be required to set specific housing targets and deliver on them under the watch of the government
- These announcements are in addition to last month’s $1-billion Growing Communities Fund to support community infrastructure
A few additional items
- The previously announced $500 million Rental Protection Fund to protect 2,000 homes across BC, to be managed through the partnership of AHMA, BCNPHA, and CHF BC
- A 40% increase in budget for the Residential Tenancy Branch to add new staff and reduce arbitration wait times
- The launch of BC Builds, a program designed to deliver homes for middle income earners
- An annual income-tested tax credit of up to $400 per year for renter households
- A commitment to examine new ways to grow the co-operative housing sector
While we were eager to see what new announcements would be included in the strategy, we were also keen to hear about the government’s progress on delivering the 114,000 unit target set in 2018. Homes for People asserts that the government is on track to meet and likely exceed this target in the coming years.
Upon closer inspection, it’s clear the province included homes delivered through a variety of mechanisms, some surprising, such as 20,000 homes made available through the speculation tax in Metro Vancouver. Homes delivered through policy make up a significant portion of what has been promised for the future as well.
The province also included federal investment in their overall unit count, as was originally intended, considering the stated focus on delivery of homes through partnerships. As we know, partnerships will likely be the key to delivering affordable homes across BC in this increasingly challenging market. Given the lack of housing investment in this year’s federal budget announcement, we wonder how difficult it will be to meet the 114,000 target within five years. BCNPHA’s sights will be firmly set on the delivery of net new affordable homes across BC as the provincial government continues to update British Columbians on its progress tackling the housing crisis.
As with any government strategy, the success of Homes for People will largely depend on the details that come into form over the next few years and how individual policy promises are implemented in community. BCNPHA will be watching closely to see what Homes for People delivers for BC and the community housing sector. We are certain our members will be watching as well.