The BC Provincial Government recently released the 2018 Budget and announced a robust commitment to make life more affordable for British Columbians.
We asked Matt Thomson, Urban Matters’ Community Housing Lead for his thoughts on the B.C. Government’s 30-Point Plan for Housing Affordability.
“Let me start off by saying this is most promising budget I have ever seen in B.C. and I think the biggest piece is the more than $6 billion invested in affordable housing over ten years.
In 2016 we saw more than half a billion invested by the previous government, but this is a phenomenal level of investment that gets us much closer to what the province of British Columbia needs for housing supply.
This commitment aligns with BC Non-Profit Housing Association’s Affordable Housing Plan, which calls for 35,000 units over ten years.
I’m pleased to hear the commitment to partner with Indigenous communities to build 1,750 units of social housing and engaging with them to implement the design and delivery.
We also heard a commitment to provide an additional 2,500 units of supportive housing for people struggling with homelessness around the province. This is on top of an existing plan to provide 1,300 modular homes over the next three years in communities such as Surrey, Kamloops and Prince Rupert, among others. This may not address all needs, but does get us much closer to addressing the supportive housing needs of individuals experiencing homelessness.
This budget is promising news for women and children affected by violence, homeowners and renters, working families, seniors… and there’s additional support for post-secondary institutions looking to house students without adding further pressure on an already-tight rental situation for residents.
This is exactly the direction we need to be headed in in terms of investing in housing overall.
One of the big gaps we’ve seen is around capacity. Non-profits and other land holders want to develop early stage concepts but have struggled in recent years to get funding to do this work. This budget commits to developing a HousingHub to support this early stage conceptual work.
This budget also provides additional power for municipal governments to identify the scope of the problem in their communities so they can begin to find the solutions that work for them.
In a move to stabilize the real estate market, the Government plans to crack down on property tax loopholes and runaway land prices and to ensure we don’t see the problem getting worse.”
30-Point Plan for Affordable Housing
Below are each of the 30 key points the BC Government intends to roll out over the next decade. For a more detailed explanation on each point, click through to read: ‘A 30-Point Plan for Housing Affordability in British Columbia’
Stabilizing the Market
- Taxing speculators who are driving up housing costs.
- Increasing the foreign buyers tax rate to 20%
- Expanding the foreign buyers tax to areas outside of Metro Vancouver
- Increasing the property transfer tax on the value of homes over $3 million
- Increasing the school tax rate on the value of homes over $3 million
- Allowing online accommodation providers to apply PST and MRDT on short-term rentals
- Reviewing the Homeowner Grant to provide fairness for renters
Cracking Down on Tax Fraud and Closing Loopholes
- Moving to stop tax evasion in pre-sale condo reassignments
- Taking action to end hidden ownership, including a new beneficial ownership registry
- Strengthening provincial auditing and enforcement powers
- Moving to close property tax loopholes on the ALR*
- Expanding information collection and information sharing with the federal government to prevent tax evasion
- Seeking permanent provincial-federal action to combat money laundering, tax evasion and avoidance
Building the Homes People Need
- Making a $6 Billion-plus investment in affordable housing
- Building rental units for the missing middle – more than 14,000 units for individuals, working families and seniors
- Housing for women and children affected by violence
- Working with universities, institutes and colleges to build new student housing
- Fixing existing projects with an eye to ensure affordability for British Columbians
- Partnering with Indigenous communities to invest $548 million over ten years in social housing
- Building 2,500 new supportive homes for people struggling with homelessness
Security for Renters
- Expanding and increasing benefits to seniors living independently
- Expanding and increasing the Rental Assistance program to help working parents
- Strengthening protections for renters and manufactured home owners.
- Existing the life, quality and affordability of existing affordable housing
Supporting Partners to Build and Preserve Affordable Housing
- HousingHub: Building Partnerships. Building Homes
- Empowering local governments
- Expanding the use of MRDT** revenues for affordable housing
- Encouraging more rentals via property tax exemptions
- Empowering homeowners in stratas to deal with short-term rentals
- Expanding transit and building communities
* ALR: Agricultural Land Reserve
**MRDT: Municipal and Regional District Tax