Monday, June 13, 2016

Provincial and federal support required to reduce homelessness and provide affordable housing for everyone

Last week, I posted about what affordable housing means for people in different income ranges, and different communities in the South of Fraser. I also posted about the average rents of different size apartments and townhouses in the South of Fraser. What becomes clear is the gap between what some people can pay, and the price of housing.

Metro Vancouver recently released its Regional Housing Strategy. The following graph from the report shows the gap between the supply and demand for rental housing.

2011-2015 estimated rental demand and supply by income in Metro Vancouver. Select table to enlarge.

If your household income is below $50,000 per year, there is not enough affordable rental housing. If your household income is higher, there is actually a rental surplus.

Addressing affordable housing works best when it is done at the regional level. Providing different types of housing from emergency shelters and transitional & supportive housing, to non-market rental and market rental must be done throughout the region to make sure that every part of the region is affordable.

Because of the capital investment required to address affordable housing, the region’s municipalities have to work together to pool resources and successfully lobby the provincial and federal governments for funding.

Metro Vancouver’s new housing strategy has five goals. I want to highlight two of those goals. The first goal I want to highlight is around meeting the housing demand for households that earn under $50,000 per year.

The four straggles that Metro Vancouver identifies is to:

  • Facilitate new rental housing supply that is affordable for very low to moderate income households.
  • Support non-profit and cooperative housing providers to continue to operate mixed income housing after operating agreements expire.
  • Facilitate non-profit and cooperative housing providers to create new mixed income housing through redevelopment or other means.
  • Advocate to provincial and federal governments for housing and income support programs to meet housing needs.

Since there is an surplus of rental housing available for households that earn over $50,000 per year, one of the quickest ways to make housing affordable will be for the provincial government to expand the funding available, and eligibility for, its rental assistance programs.

When it comes to reducing homelessness in the region, Metro Vancouver’s housing strategy recommends:

  • Expand housing options to meet the needs of homeless people in the region.
  • Promote measures that prevent at risk individuals from becoming homeless.
  • Advocate to the provincial and federal governments for support to meet the housing and support needs of the homeless.

When it comes to reducing homelessness in the region, Metro Vancouver and local governments have an advocacy roll to play. It really is the provincial government and federal government that need to show leadership.

For example, the provincial government needs to expanded mental health and addictions services to preventing and reduce homelessness. The province also needs to expand the Assertive Community Treatment program which works to get “street entrenched” people who are homeless help. Finally, both the provincial and federal government will need to work with the region to provide the over 6,200 supportive housing units required over the next decade.

While local governments must ensure that there is a variety of market housing options available, it will take the support of both the provincial and federal governments to provide housing and support for people who are homeless, or for household that are making under $50,000 per year.

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