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A home for everyone in BC: new UBCM report

by Union of B.C. Municipalities

The Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) has released a new housing strategy that calls upon all levels of government to diversify supply, manage demand, and prevent homelessness. The strategy supports:

  • the provincial goal of constructing 114,000 new units over 10 years;
  • action to mitigate the impact of foreign and domestic speculation; and
  • policies aimed at preventing homelessness.

The new report, A Home for Everyone: A Housing Strategy for British Columbians, was constructed by a special committee made up of local government, academic, not-for-profit, and housing industry experts. Their report notes:

“In this paper we clearly state that local governments are willing partners in practical actions that lead to real change for our citizens. In our view such change requires that we move quickly to:

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  • Create a large amount of affordable rental housing starting now and continuing for at least 10 years;
  • Actively manage housing prices through targeted tax and regulatory changes;
  • Take a more comprehensive approach to homelessness that is focused on prevention; and
  • Work collaboratively across all levels of government to put these solutions into action.

We believe that now is the time to act and we are ready to get to work on practical community based solutions.”

The strategy highlights the magnitude of the current housing crisis in B.C. and calls on all levels of government for immediate action.

“For many British Columbians, there is an extreme disconnect between housing prices and income,” said Wendy Booth, UBCM President. “This gap is unprecedented and demonstrates the enormous impact of speculative demand on B.C. housing market. To reverse our current course of unaffordability, we need an evidence-based approach to manage demand through stronger taxation policy and better data collection.”

In addition to proposals aimed at demand management, the strategy’s 32 recommendations focus on diversifying housing supply through the accelerated construction of rental housing, co-ops, and other alternatives to home ownership. There is also a policy focus on reducing the pathways into homelessness through improved supports for those dealing with mental health conditions and addictions.

In addition, the strategy welcomes the current direction of both the federal and provincial governments on housing policy and calls for all orders of government to work more closely to implement the actions UBCM has proposed.

“This report echoes what we’ve been hearing throughout our consultations and I look forward to working with the UBCM to find and implement solutions to address the housing crisis,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “The scale and complexity of the problem means we cannot take a piecemeal approach — all levels of government need to work together on solutions. … Budget 2018 will outline our next steps, including both supply and demand measures to improve housing affordability for British Columbians.” MW

Read the report – A Home for Everyone: A housing strategy for British Columbians.

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