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UBCM Housing Strategy Report

Vancouver – This past week, UBCM, Union of BC Municipalities, released their Housing Strategy report.
The document makes 32 recommendations for all levels of government to take action on housing affordability.
The UBCM Media release:
Housing strategy calls for action to diversify supply, manage demand & prevent homelessness

A new housing strategy from the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) is calling upon all levels of government to take action to address the issue of housing affordability. The strategy supports the provincial goal of constructing 114,000 new units over ten years; actions to mitigate the impact of foreign and domestic speculation; and policies aimed at preventing homelessness.

A special committee drawn from local government, the academic community, not-for-profit sector and the housing industry (Backgrounder 1) developed the report, A Home for Everyone: A Housing Strategy for British Columbians. The strategy characterizes the current housing situation in British Columbia as a “crisis”, and states that all levels of government have failed to fully gauge the magnitude of the issue.
“For many British Columbians, there is an extreme disconnect between housing prices and income,” said Wendy Booth, UBCM President. “This gap is unprecedented and demonstrates the enormous impact of speculative demand on B.C. housing market. To reverse our current course of unaffordability, we need an evidence-based approach to manage demand through stronger taxation policy and better data collection.”

In addition to proposals aimed at demand management, the strategy’s 32 recommendations (Backgrounder 2) focus on diversifying housing supply through accelerated construction of rental housing, co-ops and other alternatives to home ownership and a policy focus on reducing the pathways into homelessness through improved supports for those dealing with mental health conditions and addictions.

“The factors that have created the current lack of affordability and levels of homelessness are complex, so our solutions need to be equally complex,” said Greg Moore, Mayor of Port Coquitlam. “Our aim through this strategy is to focus the current discussion of housing policy on effective actions that can be implemented now. The challenge is great, but with all levels of government working together we can turn the corner and ensure everyone has a home.”

The strategy also welcomes the current direction of both the federal and provincial governments on housing policy, and calls for all levels of government to work more closely to implement the actions UBCM has proposed.

“This report echoes what we’ve been hearing throughout our consultations and I look forward to working with the UBCM to find and implement solutions to address the housing crisis,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “The scale and complexity of the problem means we cannot take a piecemeal approach — all levels of government need to work together on solutions. Our government’s initial steps include improving support for tenants and landlords, providing supportive homes for those most in need, creating more affordable homes, and cracking down on tax cheats. Budget 2018 will outline our next steps, including both supply and demand measures to improve housing affordability for British Columbians.”

Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz took to Twitter to praise the recommendations.
From the report via Mayor Greg Moore – City of Port Coquitlam. Chair of Metro Vancouver Regional District and Chairperson of the Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation penned the intro to the 94 page report.
Housing affordability is an issue that concerns all communities throughout British Columbia.
It is a serious problem that needs new creative solutions.
What we have been doing is no longer working. Housing prices are too high, household debt levels are too high and too many people become homeless and stay homeless for too long.
That is why it is very encouraging to see the Province putting forward substantial proposals for action, and the Government of Canada coming forward with the new National Housing Strategy.
Local governments have long advocated for action and are willing to work towards practical solutions that are flexible enough to address the specific needs of communities throughout B.C.
This will require officials from all orders of government to roll up their sleeves and work together, both on broad framework policies and on community specific approaches (something that Mayor Gaetz has always championed for).
In this paper we clearly state that local governments are willing partners in practical actions that lead to real change for our citizens. In our view such change requires that we move quickly to:
Create a large amount of affordable rental housing starting now and continuing for at least 10 years;
Actively manage housing prices through targeted tax and regulatory changes;
Take a more comprehensive approach to homelessness that is focused on prevention; and,
Work collaboratively across all levels of government to put these solutions into action.
We believe that now is the time to act and we are ready to get to work on practical community based solutions.

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