June 06, 2017 (Victoria, BC) – B.C. has been gripped by the recent provincial election and subsequent minority result. The ‘Confidence and Supply Agreement’ between the BC Greens and NDP is historic, and outlines in detail the policies and actions on pipelines, campaign donations and electoral reform. However, it does leave us wondering: what’s happening to housing?
For many B.C. citizens, the housing crisis continues to intensify, and for renters, affordability, rental options, and tenant rights remain hot topics. “There is a lot to build on in both the NDP and Green party platforms- a housing strategy and accompanying policies need to be at the top of the list,” said Kristi Fairholm Mader, co-Executive Director, Ready to Rent BC.
Both the Greens and the NDP want to strengthen the Residential Tenancy Act – looking at rent control and security of tenure. Ready to Rent BC is finding that the competitive rental market places tenants at a disadvantage, and many are expressing concerns about renovictions, housing instability, bidding wars, and a feeling that there is little choice. In this climate, tenant rights need to be protected and enforced.
The B.C. Greens presented a detailed plan to increase the supply of affordable housing – pledging $750 million per year for 4,000 units of affordable housing, and encouraging partnerships with First Nations, developers and social housing providers. The NDP promised to build 114,000 affordable, non-profit and co-op housing units over 10 years. Ready to Rent BC supports a speedy and considerable increase in a wide range of affordable housing options that meet community needs; not speculative real estate development wants. “Increase in housing options needs to be accompanied with capacity building and supports for people at risk of homelessness,” Fairholm Mader added.
The NDP suggested a $400 rebate for each renter household. It is difficult to see how this will effectively address affordability; rents are increasing at a rate and speed that $400/year might not address the real issue. The BC Rental Coalition recommends targeting renter’s grants to those in core housing need rather than a blanket approach.
Both NDP and Greens speak to increasing income assistance rates, a move long overdue. Shelter allowance rates must be a part of this conversation, and all rates need to be indexed to average rental increase allowances and/or inflation. Both parties also plan to make rental housing more accessible and closer to transit, which brings down costs for renters. Ready to Rent BC also supports a plan to extend support for youth leaving care, a group that is disproportionately affected by the housing crisis.
“Without coordinated and substantive policies on affordability, housing options and tenant rights, more B.C. residents will face unaffordable housing, homelessness, poverty and stress,” said Fairholm Mader. “Our message to the parties is to work together to ensure that British Columbians have safe, secure, and successful tenancies. Don’t make housing the last issue on the list – it needs to be a priority.”
About Ready to Rent BC
Ready to Rent BC is a not for profit organization that provides education and support to tenants and landlords with the goal of healthy tenancies that result in housing stability, prevention of homelessness and strong communities. Its RentSmart program has helped thousands of renters navigate the rental market, find housing and have successful tenancies. To learn more, www.readytorentbc.org
Ready to Rent BC
Director of Marketing and Communications
Kristi Fairholm Mader