BC BUDGET: NDP pushes for purpose-built rentals in ‘historic’ $1.6B investment

Hundreds of thousands of new low- and middle-income units coming over three years

The province is bringing in stronger protections for renters and put millions into new rental properties in an attempt to combat the minuscule rental vacancy rates in B.C.’s urban centres.

The 2018 budget rolled out $1.6 billion for affordable housing over three years as part the province’s previously announced $6-billion commitment to build 114,000 units over the next decade.

The funding is heavily back-loaded, with $243 million in 2018/19, $594 million in 2019/20 and $784 million in 2020/21.

MORE ON BC BUDGET: NDP cracks down on speculators, hidden ownership

Over those next three years, $378 million will build 14,000 homes for “the missing middle,” or the skilled workers that NDP Finance Minister Carole James said are choosing other places to work after seeing the cost of housing in B.C.

Low-income and social housing continued to be a focus, with 2,500 new modular homes, $550 million in social housing for off-reserve Indigenous people, and $141 million to house women and children fleeing domestic violence.

“It’s the beginning of a long road of investment,” said CEO Bev Gutray of the Canadian Mental Health Association of the modular homes. “They’re going to provide housing with 24-hour-[a-day] staffing support. That’s really good news for lots of people.”

To encourage more rental units, starting in 2019, the province will mirror property tax exemptions provided under municipal revitalization agreements for qualifying purpose-built rental housing. In prior years, purpose-built rentals still paid provincial taxes. It will also exclude purpose-built rentals from paying school taxes.

READ: New rental building in Surrey sees nearly 2,000 applicants for 97 units

Cooperative Housing Federation of B.C. executive director Thom Armstrong said he was “extremely happy” with the budget.

“We think that’s a critical measure,” said Armstrong. “The stimulation of the rental housing sector has been a key part of our plan.”

The province will commit $5 million over three years to pay for housing need assessments for local governments to make sure that housing gets built where the need is greatest.

The government is also looking to move students out of the tight housing market by helping post-secondary institutions build 5,000 new student beds on campus. The money will come from a $450-million student housing fund that allows universities and colleges to borrow directly from the province.

No renters’ rebate

Renters who manage to find a home in B.C. will find it easier to keep it, James said.

The province will look into stronger, although so far vague, protections for renters forced out by “renovictions.”

There was no mention of the $400 a year renters’ rebate, much touted during the campaign – only a vague promise to review the homeowners’ grant program to make it fairer for renters.

More low-income renters will be captured by a higher threshold for the Rental Assistance Program. The province said a new $40,000 limit – a $5,000 increase – will add 3,200 more households to the program.

Seniors reliant on the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters program, meanwhile, will receive about $930 more per year.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

20-bed emergency shelter to open in Hope in October

Supportive housing also planned for two lots on Old Hope Princeton Way, adjacent to the shelter

PHOTOS: Japanese-Canadians who built Highway 3 forever remembered with Mile 9 sign

A lesser-known part of B.C. history is the 1,700 Japanese-Canadian men who built highways in WWII

Hope arm-wrestler turned track and field star wins five medals at 55+ Games

Seven medals total coming back to Hope from golf and track and field events

Hope daycare and preschool project delayed past ‘aggressive ’ September start-date

12 families are waiting for Swetexl, a collaboration between faith, First Nations and education organizations, to open

Most cows saved during massive fire on Agassiz farm thanks to fast work of farmers, neighbours

Agassiz Fire Department responded to late night call Wednesday

Live bear cam: Let the fishing begin

Watch bears in Alaska’s Katmai National Park catch their dinner live.

B.C. electric vehicle subsidy fund drains faster than expected

Province adds another $10 million to incentive fund

Fraser Valley horse trainer suing feed mill after death of five animals

Alicia Harper seeking $500,000 to $1 million in losses and damages from Hi-Pro Feeds

‘I’ll never forgive you:’ Victim impact statements at hearing for Calgary killer

Curtis Healy was found guilty of first-degree murder Friday in the death of Dawns Baptiste.

Man accused of mailing bomb to his brother in B.C. has died

Leon Nepper was found in ‘medical distress’ at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre on Sunday

It’s shaping up to be quite a finish in CFL’s West Division standings

The Calgary Stampeders (10-2) are first, four points ahead of the Saskatchewan Roughriders (8-5).

Twice-convicted killer set to inherit multimillion-dollar company found guilty of father’s murder

A Toronto judge ruled that Dellen Millard is guilty of first-degree murder in death of his father,

Fraser Health to buy two private MRI clinics in Surrey, Abbotsford

New clinics will provide 2,000 more MRIs by fiscal year-end

Campaign seeks to add Farsi to B.C. school curriculum options

Group wants Farsi added to list of nine languages in policy covering second language requirements

Most Read