Victoria – The lack of new investments in affordable housing, and the delay in delivering on existing commitments, will only make B.C.’s already serious housing crisis worse, say representatives from B.C.’s community housing sector.
BC Non-Profit Housing Association (BCNPHA) and the Co-operative Housing Federation of BC (CHF BC) expressed disappointment that there are no increased investments in affordable housing in today’s budget. The cost of developing affordable housing – principally land and construction – continue to rise, and the province needs to ramp up its housing investments if B.C. is to meet its goal of building 114,000 rental homes by 2028. Instead, the province is delaying the completion of 2,400 affordable homes.
The community housing sector welcomes investments in new shelter beds, navigation centres and temporary supportive housing announced in Budget 2020. This is the right decision to deal with a crisis affecting communities across the province.
However, housing advocates worry that the crisis will only continue to worsen with the government’s projected slow-down in the delivery of new affordable homes in the coming two years. Projected completions in BC Housing’s Service Plan appear to have dropped by roughly 2,400 homes in the first four years of the government’s 10-year plan.
“Given that the housing crisis in B.C. is becoming more urgent every day, we need bold action right now,” said Thom Armstrong, CEO of CHF BC. “We are calling on the province and the federal government to respond by increasing their investment in affordable housing today and every day until we achieve our goals.”
“Affordable housing is a key pillar in building a healthy and equitable society and economy in B.C.,” said Jill Atkey, CEO of BCNPHA. “There are a quarter of a million renter households in B.C. spending more than they can afford on rent, and we can only expect this number to grow.”
Both Atkey and Armstrong acknowledged the province’s efforts to tackle the housing crisis in Homes for BC, a 30-point housing plan launched by the government in 2018. “Homes for BC is the largest provincial investment in housing affordability in Canada’s history,” they said, “but we are also facing the largest affordable housing crisis in our history, and the province’s housing investments should reflect that reality.”
- Rents continue to rise faster than inflation across BC, with average rents in the purpose-built rental market increasing almost 6 percent between 2018 and 2019, and over 20 percent since 2016.
- In 2017, the Co-op Housing Federation of BC and BC Non-Profit Housing Association released an Affordable Housing Plan for BC, which called on the provincial and federal governments to build 114,000 affordable homes between 2018 and 2028, including co‑operative and non-profit homes.
- Budget 2019 promised the delivery of 15,940 new affordable homes by 2021/22. Budget 2020 reduces that promise to 13,515 new affordable homes in the same period.