HOUSING Central on Tuesday commended the provincial government’s commitment to expanding supports for people experiencing homelessness through the 2022 Budget, and for speeding up the allocation of $100 million in planned spending for the Community Housing Fund. However, it said it is disappointed to see a lacklustre acceleration of the 10-year plan and no mention of an acquisition strategy that would protect existing affordable homes.
“The good news in Budget 2022 is the $633-million expansion of critical supports for people experiencing homelessness,” said Jill Atkey, CEO of BC Non-Profit Housing Association. “This funding will expand supports for complex care housing, youth housing, temporary housing spaces, and housing supplements that have been previously announced but are yet to be rolled out. The added support for youth housing is particularly important; the 2020 Point-in-Time Homeless Count in Metro Vancouver found 29% of respondents experiencing homelessness first become homeless before they were 19, and 32% had been previously or were at the time of the homeless count in foster care, in a youth group home, or on an Independent Living Agreement.”
In September 2021 Housing Central submitted three recommendations to help address the housing crisis:
- Move up $4.2 billion in planned housing supply investments so it can be spent immediately to deliver the 10,000 affordable homes awaiting funding.
- Dedicate $500 million in capital funding for a rental housing acquisition strategy to help non-profit and co-op housing providers to acquire rental housing stock as it comes up for sale on the market.
- Commit $10 million to offset the property transfer tax on land lease renewals and preserve current levels of affordability for homes on land with expiring land leases in 2022/2023. Approximately 25 properties will have their land leases expire this year, and paying the property transfer tax affects the affordability of these homes – we’re looking for relief before these taxes are due, while the province looks at a longer-term strategy.
The budget released on Tuesday recognizes the need to accelerate spending in affordable housing and moves up an additional $100 million in planned spending for the Community Housing Fund.
“This funding is welcome news, but we’re disappointed that those waiting for an affordable home will need to wait longer because this budget accelerated planned spending on only 850 of the 10,000 affordable homes currently lined up and awaiting funding,” Atkey said, noting these 10,000 homes – most of which have approvals in place and are ready to be built – were turned down in the last funding call. “The sooner they’re funded, the sooner people can move in,” she added.
At a time when housing affordability continues to erode, the provincial government’s decision to stick to its 10-year strategy, rather than innovating and adapting to changing conditions across the housing continuum, holds the community housing sector back from providing affordable homes across B.C.
“In 2018 this government made a bold commitment to invest in the development of 114,000 new affordable homes by 2028,” said Thom Armstrong, CEO of the Co-operative Housing Federation of BC. “That was the right thing to do at the time, but the housing landscape has shifted dramatically and a similarly bold response is needed in 2022. This budget doesn’t deliver that response, and that means a critical shortage of affordable housing will only get worse.”
Another key piece missing from Budget 2022 is any mention of the 2020 promise of an acquisition strategy for non-profits and co-ops to purchase rental buildings as they come onto the market for sale. This is the second budget since the election, and we still don’t see that commitment being fulfilled. We are losing three affordable homes in the private sector for every one home we build in the community housing sector. As buildings come onto the market, the community housing sector needs to be able to purchase them to keep the rents affordable, according to Armstrong.
“The biggest omission in the budget is the lack of any attention to the loss of affordable homes from the existing rental market,” Armstrong said. “If we continue to lose three affordable homes for every new home delivered in the government’s housing strategy, we will never reach our goal of ensuring that everyone has a safe, secure, affordable place to call home.”
Housing Central brings together BC Non-Profit Housing Association (BCNPHA), the Co-op Housing Federation of BC (CHF BC) Co-op Housing Federation of Canada (CHF Canada), Encasa Financial, Community Land Trust and COHO Management Services Society. Housing Central collaborates on cross-sector partnerships that help influence policy, generates media awareness and delivers world-class education and events to support its vision of a safe, affordable home for everyone.