National Housing Day marks a year of changes and investments by the Province to help make life more affordable for seniors, families and people around B.C, while creating tens of thousands of new jobs and supporting local economies.
In February 2018, the Government of British Columbia announced the largest investment in housing affordability in B.C.'s history — more than $7 billion over 10 years — and released a 30-point housing plan: http://bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2018/homesbc/2018_Homes_For_BC.pdf
The new investment in housing affordability is also strengthening local economies by creating over 54,000 new jobs for B.C. companies and skilled workers throughout the province.
Delivering affordable housing is a shared priority between government and the B.C. Green Party caucus, and is part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.
Below are the highlights of some of the steps the Province has taken over the past year to address housing affordability for British Columbians.
Housing for seniors, families, low- and middle-income earners
- Investing $1.9 billion over 10 years through the Building BC: Community Housing Fund for more than 14,000 new affordable rental homes for low- to moderate-income British Columbians: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018PREM0019-000664
- More than 4,900 of these new homes have been approved in 42 communities: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018PREM0081-002184
- For a map of the 42 approved Community Housing Fund projects, visit: https://www.bchousing.org/partner-services/Building-BC/community-housing-fund
- Building 1,700 new affordable rental homes in communities around the province with $208 million over four years through the Affordable Rental Housing Program, announced in September 2017: http://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2017FIN0024-001557
Opportunities for people experiencing homelessness
- Through the Building BC: Supportive Housing Fund, the Province is investing $1.2 billion over 10 years to build 2,500 new supportive housing units for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness to get out of tent cities, off the street, and on the path to opportunity: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018MAH0106-001524
- The Supportive Housing Fund builds on the Province's $291-million investment for 2,000 modular homes for people who are experiencing homelessness with more than $170 million over three years to provide 24/7 staffing and support services through the Rapid Response to Homelessness program: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018MAH0098-001472
- This program is expected to create more than 2,000 jobs throughout the province: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018PREM0023-000852
- So far, 600 modular homes have been built in four B.C. communities — Vancouver, Surrey, Maple Ridge and Kelowna — and the remaining 1,400 units are in different stages of development.
Helping women and children fleeing violence
- To help women and children get out of violent and abusive situations and rebuild their lives, the Building BC: Women’s Transition Housing Fund is investing $734 million over 10 years for 1,500 spaces of transition and second-stage housing: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018PREM0034-001019
- More than 280 of these new spaces have been approved for 12 communities: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018PREM0079-002068
Historic investment in on-reserve housing for Indigenous peoples
- Recognizing the critical housing needs of Indigenous peoples, the Building BC: Indigenous Housing Fund is investing $550 million over 10 years for 1,750 new units of social housing for Indigenous peoples, both on and off reserve: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018PREM0046-001224
Housing for students
- The BC Student Housing Loan Program, a $450-million student housing investment, now allows public post-secondary institutions to borrow directly from the Province to help finance an estimated 5,000 new on-campus student housing units, which previously was not permitted.
- The provincial government has funded an additional 1,165 homes at three post-secondary institutions in 2018 — Thompson Rivers University, the College of New Caledonia and the University of Victoria — representing an 800% increase from 130 student homes funded over the previous 16 years: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018PREM0081-002199
Improvements to public housing
- B.C.’s social housing stock needs upgrades to make it safer and more energy efficient, to significantly reduce energy costs. The Province is investing $1.1 billion over 10 years through the Capital Renewal Fund to upgrade and improve 50,000 non-profit and provincially owned public housing units throughout B.C.
Building partnerships – HousingHub
- Recognizing partnerships are key to addressing the housing crisis, the Province launched the new HousingHub to bring together partners to build new affordable market-rental and owner-purchased housing: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018PREM0017-000629
Support for renters and landlords
- To help ease pressure on renters, the Province cut the annual allowable rent increase by 2%, limiting it to inflation: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018PREM0072-001870
- To give families and seniors on fixed income a break from rising costs, the Province is providing $116 million over three years to expand eligibility and increase the average benefits under the Rental Assistance Program and Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018MAH0111-001668
- The Province is taking further action to help British Columbians in the tight rental market by:
- closing the fixed-term lease loophole: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2017mah0010-001815
- eliminating the geographic rent increase clause: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2017MAH0021-002036
- and changing laws to protect renters during renovations and demolitions: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018MAH0033-000618
- Government launched a new rental task force that will advise on how to improve security and fairness for renters and landlords throughout the province: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018PREM0015-000608
- The Province invested $6.8 million in new funding to the Residential Tenancy Branch to reduce wait times for tenancy disputes and to establish a new compliance unit to take action against landlords and tenants who are repeat or serious offenders: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2017FIN0024-001557
- The increase in staffing has had positive impacts on service delivery, with notable improvements in wait times over the previous year: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018MAH0142-002228
Helping municipalities and stratas increase rental home supply
- The Province has made legislative changes to empower local governments to zone specifically for rental housing in their communities: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018FIN0019-000724
- The Province has also made a change to the Strata Property Regulation to help increase the availability of long-term rentals: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018MAH0093-001419
Stabilizing the market
- To address the housing crisis, the B.C. government is taking action to help stabilize B.C.’s overheated real estate market, including:
- Introducing the new speculation and vacancy tax to help ensure that people who earn the majority of their income outside B.C. contribute their fair share in taxes, and to encourage owners to return vacant homes to market.
- Increasing the foreign buyers tax to 20% and expanding it to other urban areas to ensure foreign buyers are contributing to society in return for the high quality of life they enjoy when moving to B.C.
- Cracking down on tax fraud and closing real estate loopholes to make sure people are paying their fair share of taxes, including establishing the Condo and Strata Assignment Integrity Register to collect comprehensive information on pre-sale condo assignments.