By: Kate Lambert, Strategic Program Manager
The B.C. budget update is here. We have waited a while to see what will be included to help with the housing crisis in B.C. Is the news good?
Here is the link to the news release outlining the budget: http://bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2017_Sept_Update/newsrelease/2017_Sept_Update_NewsRelease.pdf
Here is the summary:
- $7 million in new funding over three years has been allocated for the Residential Tenancy Branch. This increase was desperately needed. 25% of calls were being dropped (39,289 calls in 2014-15), wait times for disputes were months too long, and the fee to file had increased. Tenants’ and landlords’ need for education, advice and resolution have a much greater chance of being met with new funding. This is great news.
- $189 million over three years through a B.C. Federal agreement to improve home and residential care for seniors. We hear from the seniors we work with that housing is becoming more and more of an issue. Stress from fixed incomes and rapidly increasing rents while needing stability is particularly damaging for seniors. Also great news.
- $208 million to construct 1,700 new units of affordable rental housing. The devil is in the detail here. Will this be rent geared to income, low market or something else? Will these units be managed to make sure that repairs are funded and carried out and that people in greatest housing need are housed? Will these be sustainable, healthy, mixed communities that are great to live in? It sounds fantastic, we will be waiting to see.
- Social assistance and disability rates to go up $710/month and $1,133/month respectively. That’s going in the right direction. But a quick glance at Kijiji or Craigslist tells me that finding a room in Victoria or Vancouver for less than $500/month is very tough. And those cheaper rooms are few and far between and often not legal or safe. That leaves $200 for food, transport and life. Not enough, but certainly a step in the right direction.
- $291 million over two years to build 2,000 modular homes to deal with the homelessness crisis. Another $170 million to operate the facilities, including 24/7 staffing and additional support services. This sounds great. There is a dearth of services and housing for the people vulnerable to homelessness. It would be great to see it with good mental health and addictions services, well trained and supported staff and solid move-on planning. Since there is also money and resources allocated for dealing with fentanyl, there is hope. Modular homes are cutting edge and there are builders in Canada. Let’s hope these will be locally sourced!
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