Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Addressing affordable housing in Metro Vancouver

Over the last year, people in Metro Vancouver have become increasingly concerned that they are being priced out of housing, and have been calling on all orders of government to make housing more affordable.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a report last Wednesday that outlines their solutions for government that will create and maintain affordable housing within Metro Vancouver. Their five-point plan is below.

  1. Build new affordable housing stock
    A $1.25 to $2.5 billion per year housing program funded by the provincial and federal governments to build up to 10,000 new units of affordable housing per year. Currently in Metro Vancouver, there are 3,000 people experiencing homelessness and 145,000 households in “core housing need” (spend 30% or more of household pre-tax income on housing.)
  2. Preserve and re-invest in existing affordable housing
    The federal government must renew the current annual $200 million province-wide subsidies for affordable housing, and invest an additional $190 million to $380 million to get the current affordable housing stock into a state of good repair.
  3. Create inclusive housing in complete communities
    Push for gentler forms of density in the region such as duplexes, triplexes, laneway houses, rowhouses, and up to mid-size apartment buildings. Discourage single-family housing development. Also ensure that 20-30% of newly constructed units are affordable.
  4. Put the brakes on absentee ownership and speculative investment
    Update BC’s property transfer tax to have a more progressive rate structure, and introduce differential tax rates for the sale of housing to non-BC resident buyers and/or purchasers of non-principal residences.
  5. Make property taxes fair
    Shift to a progressive property tax system that places a surtax on high-value housing. Revenue generated could be reinvested into affordable housing programs.

It should come as no surprise that both the federal and provincial governments will need to be the champions when it comes to reforming our propriety tax system and funding the construction of affordable housing.

For local governments, we can ensure that our zoning bylaws and development policies include provisions that support inclusive housing, and support a variety of housing types. For non-single family housing, we need to ensure that their is enough housing supply.

In Langley City, it will be critically important to work with other orders of government to ensure that the current number of affordable rental units are maintained, and brought into a state of good repair.

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