The BC Rental Housing Coalition released today an Affordable Housing Plan that proposes a series of specific and costed measures that can be implemented immediately to increase rental housing supply, close the affordability gap, and address chronic homelessness in the province.
The 10-year plan uses rental housing data, along with British Columbia’s growth projections, recent homeless count results, the costs of development and assessments on the condition of B.C.’s social housing stock for each region of the province to make recommendations on improving housing affordability.
Affordable Housing Plan Recommendations
- Solving the housing crisis can only be achieved when the community housing sector works in partnership with senior levels of government to build affordable housing that is sustainable over the long-term and preserves existing homes.
- An average annual investment of $1.8 billion shared by the provincial and federal governments, and the community housing sector.
- In addition to supply measures, a key element of the strategy will be to implement a renter’s grant, similar to the home owner grant, to help stabilize people in their current homes.
- Government must put in place policies that link affordable housing to transportation and health planning, and promote innovation in the area of shared equity home-ownership to provide affordable options for those who wish to buy.
“We have a crisis on our hands in B.C. that has led to mass homelessness, severe overspending and overcrowding, as well as rising health care and justice costs,” said Kishone Roy, CEO of the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, and chair of the BC Rental Housing Coalition. “As we head into a provincial election where housing affordability is the number one issue, voters will be looking to candidates of all parties to support implementation of this plan, as well as any groups or individuals who believe that everybody should have a safe affordable home.”
Backlog of Rental Housing and Future Demand
- By 2016 there was a backlog in affordable rental housing of almost 80,000 units.
- Over the next 10 years, BC will need an additional 7,000 rental units to keep up with new demand.
- Of these 7,000, 1,150 units are needed for moderate income households and 2,350 for low-income households.
- Nearly 45 per cent of renters are spending more than the standard affordability benchmark of 30 per cent of gross income.
- 23 per cent of households are severely overspending, with more than 50 per cent of their gross income going to rent.
- There are at least 6,500 homeless individuals in the province.
“The Affordable Housing Plan represents a real opportunity to fix our housing crisis and ensure that individuals and families of all incomes and backgrounds have a chance to share in BC’s prosperity,” says Thom Armstrong, Executive Director of the Co-op Housing Federation of BC. “The partnerships now being formed in the community housing sector will be critical to the success of the Plan over the next decade and beyond.”
If implemented, the costs of the plan would be split between the B.C. government, the federal government, and the community housing sector, but requires a long term commitment from the province to continue to invest in housing at a level similar to what was announced in 2016. Furthermore, elimination of policy barriers by all levels of government are essential to encourage and support private sector development of purpose-built rental housing to help address the overall scale of need.
“What is important for all stakeholders to understand is that the task to put appropriate policies in place to build more market purpose-built rental falls to politicians in city halls, the legislature and parliament,” added David Hutniak, CEO of LandlordBC. “If our politicians fail to deliver, it is renters who will continue to suffer and that is simply wrong.”
Building housing takes time, so the issues B.C. is facing cannot be solved immediately. The Affordable Housing Plan spreads needed investments over ten years, and shares those costs wherever possible. It combines years of research into a plan useful for all levels of government and for housing providers. If unfunded, real dollar costs – and more importantly, costs to society – will rise exponentially.
Members of the BC Rental Housing Coalition include the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, Co-op Housing Federation of BC, LandlordBC, Vancity credit union, UBC School of Community and Regional Planning, BC Seniors Living Association, BC CEO Network, BC Society of Transition Houses, Tri-cities Homelessness and Housing Task Group, Tenant Resource Advisory Centre, and Ready to Rent BC.
For more information, visit www.housingcentral.ca.