The British Columbia government is funding 4,900 new affordable rental units to be built in the next three years as part of its efforts to tackle a housing crisis across the province. The units will include both non-profit and co-operative housing and are designed to address affordable housing needs for a range of income levels in 42 communities, the government says in a statement.
The buildings will contain a mix of units for middle-income people and families, heavily subsidized rentals for seniors and others on fixed incomes and homes for low-wage workers.
“We want a range of people to have access to this new affordable housing. The projects will include a mix of rent levels,” Housing Minister Selina Robinson said at a news conference in Vancouver.
Robinson said one building could be home to seniors, retail workers, nurses and first responders, “who are increasingly struggling in a rental market that is becoming so unaffordable for too many.”
Jill Atkey, chief executive for the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, said the investment is “vital.”
One-third of B.C. residents are renters and almost half of them are spending more than 30 per cent of their income on rent. Almost one in five are spending more than 50 per cent of their income on rent, she said.
“Data tell us that this crisis is real,” she said. “Spending more than you can afford on rent is becoming the new normal,” she said.
It’s significant that the 42 projects are being delivered thorough the non-profit sector, Atkey said, because it means they will remain affordable in the future.
This is the first set of housing projects selected through the B.C. government’s $1.9-billion Building BC: Community Housing Fund established to construct more than 14,000 affordable rental homes for independent families and seniors.
It’s part of a larger $7 billion commitment by the B.C. government to build 114,000 affordable homes over 10 years.
Increasing the housing supply was also part of the NDP minority government’s confidence and supply agreement with the B.C. Green party.
Robinson said the province received more than 100 responses to its request for proposals and the projects were selected based on criteria that includes the types of clients and the impact the project is expected to have in reducing the community’s affordable rental housing need.
Seventy two projects have been approved. About 1,500 homes will be built in the Vancouver coastal area, 1,400 in the Fraser Valley, 1,300 on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands and a combined 750 in the Interior and North.