WATCH: The B.C. premier has announced near $2 billion towards new rental housing in the province over the next ten years.
The B.C. government is investing $1.9 billion over the next decade to build 14,000 affordable rental homes.
Premier John Horgan said fixing the housing crisis in the province isn’t just about ownership but is also about making sure British Columbians who rent rather than own find homes they can afford and have a future in.
“We’re building British Columbia by investing in homes for people who live and work in our communities,” Horgan said during the announcement in Victoria on Wednesday afternoon.
Each project built under the new Building BC Community Housing Fund must provide at least 30 per cent of the units for those with moderate incomes, 20 per cent for low incomes and half of the homes must be for a mixture of low- to moderate-income households.
Moderate income households are defined as household incomes up to $71,200 for homes with fewer than two bedrooms, or up to $104,000 for homes with two or more bedrooms.
Low-to-moderate household incomes are defined as household incomes below the Housing Income Limits, which range from $21,000 to $95,000, depending on the community and the unit size. Housing Income Limits represent the income needed to pay the average market rent. Average rents are derived from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) annual Rental Market Survey. Rents for these units will be targeted at the CMHC definition of affordability, at or below 30 per cent of the household income.
Low-income households are households requiring a deeper level of subsidy, such as those receiving income assistance. These are incomes below $15,000 to $30,000, depending on unit size.
“[We’re] trying to capture the continuum of housing needs in the community,” Horgan said.
“For the first time in 16 years, the co-op sector will be able to access these resources so that will be a rejuvenation of part of the housing stock that has been desperately in need for some period of time.”
Horgan said the first units should open within the next couple years and the first $355 million “goes out the door now.” The entire investment is part of the 10-year $7 billion housing investment outlined in the NDP’s last budget.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said the business community in the region have said there is no housing available for people working in the area. She also said she gets emails from seniors who write that they can only afford a certain amount of rent a month and do not wish to leave Victoria.
‘You shouldn’t need to email the mayor to get housing,” Helps said, adding that the Building BC Community Housing Fund will help seniors and employees in Victoria.
According to the government, the projects will be prioritized on targeted clients and the impact the project would have in reducing the community’s affordable rental housing need.
“People are struggling in the midst of this housing crisis. We need to do everything we can to make housing more affordable,” Selina Robinson, minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
“Through the Community Housing Fund, people who have been squeezed out of the tight rental market will be able to find a place to call their own, so they can stay in their community.”
Last week, the province launched a new task force to look at rental housing affordability and regulation.
The NDP promised a $400 annual renters grant during the election last year but later said that would be implemented sometime before the next election.