IN September 2019, the governments of Canada and B.C. created the Expert Panel on the Future of Housing Supply and Affordability to identify measures that could build on government investments and initiatives already underway to help more people find affordable housing in British Columbia.
Since January 2020, the panel has consulted with more than 100 stakeholders and reviewed submissions from more than 2,000 members of the public. An interim What We Heard report is now available and focuses on three key areas:
* governance, or the way in which governments control or influence the supply of housing;
* the diversity of housing for all income levels and tenures;
* accelerating and adding certainty to the process for adding new supply.
“We are hearing loud and clear there is a crisis among working people who need decent housing that is affordable and meets their needs, whether it be for sale or for rent. It is simply not available,” said Joy MacPhail, Chair, Expert Panel on the Future of Housing Supply and Affordability, on Wednesday. “Our interim report is pointing to solutions in the short, medium and long term. We intend to continue our public consultations and then provide informed recommendations to all levels of government.”
The panel sought insights and ideas from experts, academics, researchers, urban planners, urban economists, Indigenous peoples, municipal housing policymakers and members of the public familiar with the housing challenges in B.C., and similar high-priced housing markets around the world.
The consultations have been constructive and transparent amongst all those involved in finding shared solutions to the acute issues of housing supply and housing affordability in B.C. While the level of engagement has been robust, due to the unprecedented disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the panel has announced public consultations will continue until Jan. 15, 2021.
The panel has posted the interim What We Heard report on its website and will provide a final report and recommendations to the federal and provincial governments in spring 2021.
* The members of the panel are leaders and specialists in a wide range of fields. They will identify additional measures that federal and provincial governments, and possibly municipal governments, non-governmental organizations and other actors in housing markets, could undertake to improve housing supply and affordability in B.C.’s high-priced markets.
* Since 2017, the B.C. government has taken steps to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable homes, including the largest investment in housing affordability in B.C.’s history – $7 billion over 10 years.
* Through a 30-point housing plan launched in 2018, the provincial government is working with partners to deliver 114,000 affordable homes over 10 years. The plan has also introduced new measures aimed at curbing speculative demand that has driven up the cost of living.
* To help more Canadians access affordable housing that meets their needs, the Government of Canada launched the National Housing Strategy (NHS) – a 10-year, more than $55-billion program designed to build 125,000 new affordable housing units, repair 300,000 others and reduce chronic homelessness by 50%.
* In addition, the federal 2020 Fall Economic Statement proposes to increase the lending capacity of the existing Rental Construction Financing Initiative by an additional $12 billion over seven years. This new funding will enable the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to support the construction of an additional 28,500 purpose-built rental housing units across Canada.
* To help grow housing supply solutions, the federal government recently announced the launch of the first round of the Housing Supply Challenge. The Housing Supply Challenge will be delivered by CMHC. The data-driven round is now open for applications until Jan. 20, 2021.
* Under agreements with provinces and territories, more than $15 billion in federal, provincial, and territorial funding under the NHS will support the stock of community housing and address regional priorities from 2018 to 2028.
To read the What We Heard report, visit: www.engage.gov.bc.ca/housingaffordability