Partnerships and strategies formed to address affordable housing issues

Letter to the Editor by Minister Rich Coleman - Partnerships and strategies formed to address affordable housing issues

To the Editor,

As the B.C. consultations for the National Housing Strategy get underway in Vancouver and in Victoria, we are encouraging your government to work with the Province of B.C. on strengthening and growing the middle class by partnering with us to address critical housing issues.

We welcome your government back to the table, as the issue of housing affordability requires co-ordinated action and a commitment from all levels of government to work together. Since 2001, the Government of B.C. has invested $4.8 billion to provide affordable housing for low-income individuals, seniors and families.

In order to continue this level of investment, it is vital that appropriate and adequate funding from your government be available for new and existing affordable housing in the province of British Columbia.

Rental housing construction largely dried up after federal tax changes decades ago. However, British Columbia continued and continues to invest in housing to help those most in need, but we cannot do it alone. We need to encourage the private sector to contribute to building affordable units.

Therefore, as a first step, we encourage your government to restore appropriate tax measures that provide incentives for developers to build more rental housing.

Secondly, to ensure this endeavour is successful, federal land must be allocated in order for more affordable housing units to be built on those properties. This is a significant aspect of the overall affordable housing strategy.

And lastly, I recognize that Canada’s finance ministers recently discussed their concerns about tax auditing and potential money laundering in real estate. This discussion has been ongoing through the federal-provincial- municipal working group on housing affordability.  We are encouraged that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is taking further steps to identify and pursue cases of tax evasion, but we strongly suggest the CRA expedite timelines of implementation.

Officials in the B.C. government will continue to work closely with the Canada Revenue Agency to share appropriate information, verify eligibility for programs, and ensure that all taxpayers are paying their correct amount of tax.

The issue of housing affordability is complex and will require a number of innovative solutions, but by working with your government and all levels of government, we are confident that solutions can be found.

Minister Rich Coleman

Deputy Premier

Minister Responsible for Housing