New online portal highlights B.C.’s housing needs ahead of municipal elections

New online portal highlights B.C.'s housing needs ahead of municipal elections

Municipal elections are just weeks away and to ensure voters are informed on local housing needs, advocates have launched a first-of-its-kind online portal highlighting housing statistics from municipalities across B.C.

Make Housing Central, a coalition formed in a partnership between the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, Co-Op Housing Federation of BC and Aboriginal Housing Management Association, has published the 2022 Civic Campaign Explorer.

According to the coalition, the portal uses data from Statistics Canada and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to provide a searchable, community-specific snapshot of household and demographic information.

It also provides information on Indigenous-led households, as well as the percentage of homeowners versus renters and a community’s housing needs versus what’s actually being built.

In Victoria, for example, one “key highlight” on its housing needs chart is that by 2025, the city will need 492 new units with at least three bedrooms, whether renter or owner-occupied.

That’s because “crowding [negatively impacts] children’s educational outcomes, child development outcomes and the physical and mental health of occupants,” according to data posted to the portal.

Victoria’s housing needs (Screenshot: 2022 Civic Campaign Explorer)

“Local governments are in a position to effect real change in addressing the housing crisis by shaping local land use, reducing delays, and driving zoning decisions that can boost housing starts for the kind of homes most desperately needed,” said Thom Armstrong, CEO of the Co-operative Housing Federation of BC, in a news release.

“Our campaign not only provides municipal candidates with clear data on the specific needs in their communities but also a chance for them to send a clear signal to voters by publicly pledging to be part of the solution in taking substantive steps to address these needs.”

The coalition says the portal follows a survey conducted in June by Research Co., which indicated housing, homelessness, and poverty are the dominant issues for British Columbians regardless of where in the province they live.

Jill Atkey, CEO of the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, says municipal leaders not only shape future housing options but can also take action in the short term to address urgent needs.

“Our campaign and this database demonstrate that while the challenges are clear, there are also solutions at hand, and October’s municipal elections are an opportunity for British Columbians to elect local candidates that commit to specific and actionable change on this critical issue.”

View the 2022 Civic Campaign Explorer online here.

Victoria’s local screenshot (Screenshot: 2022 Civic Campaign Explorer)

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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