Where are the investments in non-market housing options?

Mar 7, 2022 | 42-3, Blog, Governance, Legislature, Question Period, Video | 2 comments

With housing costs soaring in British Columbia the BC NDP’s market driven for-profit affordable housing is not working. Affordable housing is out of reach for many British Columbians.

The BC NDP flagship housing program is called the Housing Hub, it invests $2 billion worth of public money in market rental development.

In Question Period, I asked Minister of Housing, Hon. David Eby, how much money his government is investing in non-market housing solutions such as co-ops.

[Transcript]

A. Olsen:

Meanwhile, while we have this debate in this House, the fossil fuel industry has registered $46 billion in profit last year.

Anyway, the government has made it clear that since 2020 their solution to the housing crisis has been build more supply. It’s true they have built more supply than over two decades ago, but the experts are also clear that not all housing supply is made equal.

[2:15 p.m.]
City of Vancouver policy, started during the Vision days, incentivizes developers of “for-profit affordable housing.” Under this program, an affordable studio apartment costs $1,800 a month, an affordable one bedroom goes for $2,200 a month, and if you’re a family in need of a three-bedroom apartment, that’s $4,000 a month. This is all supposedly affordable housing.

At these prices, the market-driven “for-profit affordable housing model is failing British Columbians.” This B.C. NDP government has invested $2 billion of public money into the HousingHub, but this public investment is not restricted to non-market housing options. To the Attorney General and Minister of Housing, how much of the HousingHub money is dedicated to non-market housing solution?

Hon. D. Eby:

First of all, I know the Georgia Straight article the member is quoting with his rent numbers. The article is incorrect. It cites market rents at $4,000 for a three-bedroom and affordability quite…. I’m happy to share the report with him. When reading media and it refers to reports, sometimes it’s helpful to get the report and review the report itself.

Secondly, on the HousingHub….

Interjection.

Hon. D. Eby:

It’s a good idea to read the report if you’re interested in housing.

The second piece is, for the $2 billion that we put into the HousingHub, it’s expressly designed to support increased affordability and increased construction of market rental housing. That’s what the program is designed for. It’s meant to bring down the cost of rental units in market buildings that are being constructed and to incent developers to build desperately needed rental housing.

People are lining up for rental housing. We know that Amazon is adding 5,000 employees in Vancouver. We know that Microsoft is adding 5,000 employees in Vancouver. Where are these people going to live if we aren’t building market rental housing?

This is desperately important. Middle-income housing, including rental housing, is critically important. It shouldn’t be made light of. It’s as important, and it takes pressure off the low end.

It’s a key part of our government’s policy. I’m very grateful the member asked the question.

Mr. Speaker:

Member for Saanich North and the Islands, supplemental.

A. Olsen:

Public money should be invested in non-market housing solutions instead of subsidizing the construction costs for developers. As it stands, there is no incentive to create truly affordable housing. The member can stand and diminish the numbers, the reality is that British Columbians are contacting us all the time, telling us that affordable housing units are well out of reach for them. They’re not affordable for British Columbians.

The government isn’t prioritizing housing that will meet the basic shelter needs for British Columbians. For example, Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada pointed out that across Canada in 1982, more than 6,500 co-op housing units were built. In 2020, only 500 were built nationally. In B.C. that number, obviously, is much smaller.

Just last month, NDP MP Dan Davies stood in the House of Commons to celebrate….

Interjections.

A. Olsen:

Don Davies. You didn’t join the NDP?

MP Davies invited prominent members of his Vancouver-Kingsway community “who share experience, knowledge and vision as to ho we can expand this incredibly successful housing model into the 21st century.”

To the Attorney General and Minister of Housing, his federal NDP counterparts seem to get it. Why is the B.C. NDP not investing HousingHub public money, $2 billion, on building more non-market housing options, such as co-ops?

Hon. D. Eby:

The member knows that the HousingHub program is only one of many different housing programs we’re running. We have a massive — in fact, historic — investment in non-market social housing. Recently, in this budget, the Finance Minister stood and introduced an incredible social housing program for people with serious mental health and addiction challenges that the Minister for Mental Health and Addiction is bringing into being in partnership with health authorities — 20 sites across the province; desperately needed. Literally billions of dollars into non-market housing solutions: buying hotels to get people inside off of parks, redeveloping those sites into mixed income housing developments like the Capital City Motel in Victoria.

We are doing the important work that was neglected for 16 years by the other side and we’re going to keep doing it.

2 Comments

  1. Theresa Barker

    Housing must not be market driven for profit. Municipalities drive up prices with permits, property taxes…etc. Realtors drive up profit with their greed through bidding and speculation. In short housing must be considered essential and not a commodity. Prices need to reflect a minimum per hour wage earner and have money left over for groceries etc. Unless their is a paradigm shift in thinking people who have lived in this province for generations will be forced into tent cities.

    Reply
  2. Ralph Leuchter

    According to the federal government affordable housing is 30% of your gross income. If you are a minimum wage earner of $15.00 hr then your rent would be $750.00 for a one bedroom apartment. This amount and or any amount is not mentioned when governments talk about affordable housing. The reasons for this is that elected representative are influenced by developers and outside influences and are afraid to rock the boat in fear of these people might pull their investments and support of elected officials. BC has a non corporate and union or special interest group company electoral contribution policy to combat pay to play or corruption of our politicians. However big business and other special interest groups still have influence and persuasion over our elected politicians. Could it be that they still offer a reward after the career is over as seen of many ex politicians awarded a board seat after retirement.
    The biggest reason that people do not trust government and politicians is the lack of transparency. Our government has to be accountable independent audits have to be made yearly and presented in a timely matter, not one or two years after the facts. audits also need to cover the infrastructure not just the financial, people need to know that our money is spent wisely and that the bureaucracy of the government is run efficiently and effectively.

    Reply

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