Guest Editorial by Rich Coleman – Minister of Natural Gas Development and Minister Responsible for Housing, Deputy Premier
Our government remains committed to addressing the affordability and liveability challenges faced by British Columbian families.
On Sept. 19, 2016, the Government of B.C. announced a $500-million investment to ensure more individuals and families in need have access to a stable, safe and affordable place to call home. It’s the largest housing investment in a single year by any province in Canada.
Over the last seven months, we have committed a total of $855 million to create close to 5,000 new units of affordable rental housing. This builds on the other housing affordability actions recently taken by the Province, including:
• Implementing a 15 per cent additional property transfer tax that applies to foreign purchasers of residential real estate in Metro Vancouver;
• Strengthening consumer protection in B.C.’s real estate market through increased oversight and accountability of real estate licensees;
• Introducing a new luxury tax on properties that sell for more than $2 million; and
• Introducing a Newly Built Homes exemption, which has helped nearly 5,500 families save an average of $7,600 on their newly built homes.
As we move forward, we also continue to find creative ways to increase the supply of affordable housing in B.C. Through the Non-Profit Asset Transfer Program, we are providing subsidies to non-profit housing societies to allow them to buy the land they currently lease from the Province. All the proceeds will be reinvested into the construction of new affordable housing projects, or the repair and renovation of existing projects. It also builds a stronger non-profit housing sector in B.C.
Recognizing the needs of low-income people renting in the private market, we continue to offer the Rental Assistance Program, which helps more than 10,000 families on a monthly basis with the cost of rental housing.
We are also aware that housing is a challenge for many seniors. To help seniors best meet their housing needs, the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters program also offers cash assistance to eligible B.C. seniors who pay rent for their home. Close to 19,900 seniors’ households receive assistance through this program.
We will continue to work on additional measures in the coming months to address housing affordability and supply challenges. This will include a determined action on our six principles of housing affordability:
• Ensuring the dream of home ownership remains within the reach of the middle class
• Increasing housing supply
• Smart transit expansion
• Supporting first-time home buyers
• Ensuring consumer protection
• Increasing rental supply
In B.C., we have developed a successful partnership model that brings together all levels of government, non-profit housing providers and the private sector to create new affordable housing. By continuing to work together, we are confident that solutions can be found to address B.C.’s housing challenges.
To learn more about the Province’s actions on housing affordability, visit: http://housingaffordability.gov.bc.ca/