Clarify housing policies

Thom Armstrong is the executive director for the Co-operative Housing Federation of B.C.

During the provincial election campaign, the Co-operative Housing Federation of B.C. is working to keep low-income, senior and disabled British Columbians in their homes. Between now and 2017, some 1,500 B.C. households will lose Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI) subsidies as their federal housing agreements end. That will impact those who can least afford to lose their homes in the most expensive housing market in Canada.

Our “You Hold the Key” campaign has actively engaged the main political parties running in the election, meeting with candidates to determine their policies in regards to RGI programs and other issues of concern to co-op members.

Last Wednesday’s policy announcement by the NDP, while it mentioned co-operative housing as part of the solution to the affordable housing crisis in B.C., was silent on the question of rental assistance for those in need. Neither the BC Liberals nor BC Conservatives mention housing in their platforms. The Green Party has no stated position on this issue, critical to our members.

Here are a few facts on the challenges co-op members face:

• During the life of the government we’re to elect, over 1,500 co-op households in B.C. will lose the federal rent support that currently makes their housing affordable. The next MLAs hold the key to keeping those homes affordable.

• Between now and 2017, one quarter of B.C.’s housing co-ops will lose RGI support. That number will climb to 3,000 households by 2020. That will impact families with low-incomes, the elderly and the mobility-challenged.

• From 2011-2014, the federal government is contributing $90 million to the B.C. government for housing. But none of those funds have been ear-marked to assist co-op members who will soon lose their federal assistance.

The parties must come forward with clear, transparent policy statements on these important issues. Further, we want the public to know about the looming challenge that faces dozens of co-op communities throughout the province. For more information, please take a look at our website, www.chf.bc.ca/electioncentral.

Thom Armstrong is the executive director for the Co-operative Housing Federation of B.C.