CST: 05/12/2016 06:30:10   

Coalition Calls on Federal Budget to Address Rental Housing Affordability in BC

258 Days ago

Non-Profit, Municipal, Co-operative Housing Sectors, Along With Private Sector, Seniors Advocate, Homelessness Organizations and Aboriginal Housing Providers Make Key Recommendations to Ottawa

VANCOUVER, BC --(Marketwired - March 21, 2016) - The BC Rental Housing Coalition is calling on the federal Liberal government to fulfill its encouraging election platform commitment to renew federal leadership in housing policy ahead of tomorrow's budget.

Specifically, the Coalition wants new investments to be spent on three housing priorities in BC: creating new supply, supporting tenants to keep and access housing, and aligning housing with other areas of social policy, such as health and public transportation. 

Kishone Tony Roy, CEO of BC Non-Profit Housing Association, said: "If the Liberal government delivers on its election commitment, it will be the first meaningful new federal investment in rental housing in over 20 years. Therefore, the Coalition, which represents nearly all aspects of the rental housing system -- is providing evidence-based recommendations to ensure the investments have maximum positive impact for the people who need it most."

Thom Armstrong, Executive Director of the Co-op Federation of BC, added: "Delivering on commitments laid out in the election platform is a vital first step to tackling housing affordability in BC and addressing homelessness -- both issues highlighted earlier this month by the United Nations as requiring urgent attention in Canada."

David Silva, Interim CEO of Aboriginal Housing Management Association, echoed: "These recommendations are supported by the Aboriginal community, who are over represented among those in need of safe, affordable and health housing."

More specific recommendations from the Coalition include:

1) Creating new Supply: BC needs 80,000 units of new rental housing by 2021, of which 25,000 should be subsidized housing for households that cannot afford market rents. (1) The Coalition is calling on Ottawa to:

  • Meet its platform commitment to provide GST rebates on new rental development and investigate other tax incentives to stimulate the development of private rental housing.
  • Target new housing infrastructure funding by need, rather than population. This means that communities in BC experiencing significant homelessness and critical levels of overspending on housing should be prioritized for new developments.
  • Require the BC government to match contributions for all new federal housing infrastructure funding with cash, land or in-kind support in order to maximize impact.
  • Support the creation of a $250 million social Finance Infrastructure Fund that will leverage a regional network of impact investment funds to provide financing for housing development and other durable social infrastructure.

2) Support Tenants: Over the next decade more than 20,000 units of social housing will lose their subsidies in BC. This includes federal rent subsidies for 4,000 low-income co-op households. The Coalition is also calling on the federal government to:

  • Immediately work with the BC government to fund a rent subsidy program for low-income co-op and non-profit residents at risk of losing their homes.
  • Repair deteriorating rental housing units in BC to prevent further loss of existing stock.
  • Increase investments in the Housing First approach to end chronic homelessness.

3) Align Housing Policy: Economic development, transportation, health care, immigration, refugee services, aboriginal affairs and other areas of social policy are all intimately linked to housing. The Coalition is encouraged that federal ministers have been mandated to work collaboratively across these portfolios and seeks further collaboration moving forward.

David Hutniak, CEO, LandlordBC, says: "As private sector landlords, we are hopeful that the federal government will look to the success of a past program, Rental RAPP, and provide landlords with funding to pay for structural repairs, life safety repairs or new energy efficient heating. With all the aging rental stock we have today, which also happens to be the most affordable, it would be a fantastic program to reintroduce. This funding is easily deployed and would also create an immediate boost to the economy by providing work for contractors and purchase orders for suppliers."

Garth Davis, CEO, New Market Funds, confirmed: "The rental crisis is clearly not being solved by the invisible hand of the market and it is too big a problem for government alone. However, the federal government can take the critical first step in providing public funds, appropriately leveraged by private capital, in building vital community infrastructure where ownership ultimately resides in the community, ensuring a healthy long-term affordable rental stock." 

BACKGROUND:

The BC Rental Housing Coalition encompasses nearly all of the umbrella associations in the province that provide, advocate for, or develop rental housing including:

    • Aboriginal Housing Management Association
    • BC CEO Network
    • BC Non-Profit Housing Association
    • BC Seniors Living Association
    • BC Society of Transition Homes
    • Co-op Housing Federation of BC
    • Inclusion BC
    • LandlordBC
    • Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation
    • Tenants' Rights Advisory Centre
    • Urban Development Institute
    • Vancity credit union
  • In 1993 the federal government stopped funding new social housing commitments, ending three decades of strong financial support for low-income tenants.
  • Federal tax incentive programs to stimulate the private rental market ended in 1984.
  • Homelessness costs Canadians $7 billion per year.
  • BC's rental housing industry contributed $12.25 billion to Canada's GDP in 2013

(1) BC Non-Profit Housing Association -- Rental Housing Need and Demand projections.

For further information, or to schedule an interview, please contact:

Dean Pogas,
Communications Manager
BC Non-Profit Housing Association
604 363 6590
dean@bcnpha.ca

Fiona Jackson
Communications Director
Co-operative Housing Federation of BC
604 879 5111 (ext. 139)
fjackson@chf.bc.ca