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

Ferry connecting Port Hardy and Bella Coola expected to set sail this summer

Its first in-service route will sail in central coast waters on May 18, 2019.

BC Parks Student Ranger Program accepting applications for 2019 season

12 crews of four student rangers will work in regions throughout the province including Bella Coola.

Over $650,00 given to rural communities thanks to Rural Dividends

Five communities, including Williams Lake, are receiving $10,000 for project grants

Pregnant Cariboo firefighter tries to save own house from blaze

Julia Flinton and Anthony Sellars both worked on the 2017 wildfires

Road report for Highway 20

Fog patches and slippery sections; Drive BC

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, expenses

Speaker Darryl Plecas’ report details ‘flagrant overspending’

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Kamala Harris opens U.S. presidential bid in challenge to Trump

The 54-year old portrayed herself as a fighter for justice, decency and equality in a video distributed by her campaign

“Ocean Falls – After the Whistle” now available at Kopas Store

Over the course of its life over seventy thousand people lived in Ocean Falls

Woman offers luxury Alberta home for just $25 and a flair for the written word

Alla Wagner ran into health problems, which forced her to list the 5,000-square-foot estate at market value

Most Read