An affordable rental building opened in Victoria to house families, seniors and people with disabilities.
The Oak, at 9 Chown Pl., has 29 units where rent will be geared to income, meaning renters will pay 30 per cent of the household income, 12 units are reserved for people with very low incomes, and 17 are rented at near-market rates with rent ranging from $1,600 to $2,100 per month.
The four-storey building has a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units including one fully accessible unit and 48 adaptable units. The building also has a community hall, raised garden beds and a rooftop deck.
Rob Fleming, MLA for Victoria—Swan Lake, says increasing rent costs are affecting everyone in B.C.
“It affects people of all demographics, young people, seniors, people starting hoping to start a new family. It impacts our economy, small businesses struggle to find employees that can afford to live in the community to work in those businesses and they struggle to retain employees,” Fleming said in a news conference.
“We know this because we hear about it from business owners. Even a number of people with good incomes are feeling the pinch of the housing crisis as a high proportion of their income goes just to putting a roof over their head.”
Joanne, a tenant of the Oaks, says she moved into the building in May after previously struggling to afford rent.
“I just pinch myself every day that I actually moved in here,” she said. “I was paying 60 per cent of my monthly wage on rent and to move in here and pay 30 per cent is just amazing.”
Ravi Kahlon, B.C.’s minister of housing, says while this affordable rental building opening in Victoria is good news, there is more work to be done.
“For too many people, the house prices and rents are pricing them out of the communities that they love to call home,” Kahlon said. “It’s disheartening to hear people say that ‘I really want to live here but I can no longer afford it.’ The housing crisis we know is hurting people and it’s holding back our economy as well.”
In 2022, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation said B.C. would need to build 570,000 housing units by 2030 in order to restore housing affordability. In 2019, B.C. set the goal of building 114,000 units over 10 years, which the province re-affirmed was the goal in its 2023 budget.
Kahlon noted there are other housing initiatives the government is taking on to address the housing crisis.
He says this fall, the government will introduce legislation to regulate short-term rentals in the province, providing incentives for people to upgrade suites to bring them onto the rental market, and introducing legislation to change zoning in municipalities across the province to allow small-scale multi-unit homes like duplexes, triplexes and townhomes.