Rich Coleman: Building housing for the future in B.C.

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      As housing matters to all of us, the time has come to look to forward, to direct our investments to meet the coming housing needs of British Columbians.

      That's why last year the B.C. government updated our housing strategy, Housing Matters BC, to better serve our future needs. We refocused our strategy to enhance affordability, increase confidence for renters, homeowners and landlords and promote safe, healthy communities.

      We face different challenges today than we did when we first launched the strategy seven years ago. Demand for affordable housing is increasing and availability of rental units is decreasing.

      As part of our strategy, we will establish improved licensing requirements for home inspectors this year that will create a common professional standard for home inspectors. Improved standards will help to make sure homebuyers have confidence that their home inspectors are qualified to help them make one of the largest investments of their lives.

      We are also creating more flexible options for rental assistance so more as people can choose where they want to live and there are no waitlists. For instance, we've increased the average monthly rental supplements for those in need. On average, families receiving rental assistance now receive an extra $40 per month and seniors now receive an extra $34 per month.

      Rental assistance is so effective we created the new Homeless Prevention Program to provide people at-risk of homelessness with rent supplements to help them stay in the private market. Together with the federal government we are investing $62.5 million over the next five years to support up to 4,000 people.

      By providing assistance to people at-risk - women fleeing violence, youth leaving care, seniors leaving the hospital - we can help prevent them from ending up on the street. The first year of the Homeless Prevention Program has resulted in these services being based in nearly 30 communities throughout the province.

      We know we can't do this alone, so we have committed to developing partnerships that create more choices and increase affordable housing options for all British Columbians.

      For example, we are strengthening the non-profit housing sector by transferring provincially owned land to non-profit housing providers. We are offering 350 non-profit housing providers who own and operate social housing buildings the option to buy the land on which they operate. Owning the land will make it easier for non-profits to secure loans, raise funds and give them the security to plan for the future.

      Most importantly, the updated provincial housing strategy reaffirmed our commitment to supporting those in greatest need.

      This year, our B.C. government will provide approximately $169 million to support people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. In more than 60 communities throughout B.C. our homeless outreach teams work to connect homeless people with stable housing and support services. Last year, we found stable housing for more than 6,700 homeless people.

      Today there are more than 11,000 emergency shelter spaces throughout B.C. As the weather gets colder, we are working with our partners to provide an additional 1,100 shelter spaces so that no one must face a night in the cold. Plus, we've developed a new online map.

      This map shows the location of shelters in each community to help social service providers more easily connect British Columbians with a safe place to stay.

      Through our provincial housing strategy we are producing impressive results. Each year, we help about 100,000 B.C. households with a range of housing services.

      By updating our strategy we are providing support to those in greatest need to keep housing safe and affordable, and to strengthen the social housing sector, because in British Columbia housing matters.

      Rich Coleman is B.C.'s deputy premier, minister of natural gas development, and minister responsible for housing.




      Jan 2, 2015 at 12:54pm

      Please spare us the partisan political platitudes.

      Your Government can pay $565 ++ Million for a leaky Tarp Roof but not towards eliminating homelessness.

      Your Government can provide Corporate Welfare in the Tens of BILLIONS by way of Above Market Rate Power Contracts paid to Private Power Companies to ensure they have large profits paid for by us the residents of BC by forcing BC Hydro to pay that above market rate to them, legislating Corporate Welfare.

      Your Government presides over a protected Non-Free Market Casino industry giving over $1 to $1.5 Billion p/year to these protected Oligopolists running BC Casinos.

      Your Government could easily retain that extra revenue for healthcare, education and for the poor but your choice is Corporate Welfare to give these protected Oligopolists a guaranteed Billion+ in revvenue but not provide that much for the poor.

      Than at BC Housing the spouse of the CEO there had a multi-million dollar contract to "manage" low cost housing units, nice work if one can get it.

      "BC Housing told Go Public it paid Atira $4.4 million in the last fiscal year to manage 13 buildings. However, it rejected repeated requests to disclose how much taxpayer money has been paid to the company overall. As of end of the fiscal 2010-2011 year, that figure was reportedly close to $22 million."

      Source : CBC :

      There is lots of money to end poverty in your Government budgets yet your overwhelming strategy is to provide Corporate Welfare for mostly big business and provide token assistance to those really in need while cutting back on the most vunlerable the mentally ill.

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      Jan 2, 2015 at 2:30pm

      "Owning the land will make it easier for non-profits to secure loans"

      So it is easier for non-profit societies to negotiate favorable loan terms than it is for a quasi-sovereign entity like the Province of BC? Nonsense.

      Shelters are not safe places to stay. Most of them don't even have bathing facilities. Do you think it is "safe" to be surrounded by the thick miasma that the homeless give off due to their clothes being covered in filth and bacteria? What hotel does anyone check into for the night where he can't take a hot bath?

      I'm pretty close to saying that the homeless should be housed in the hotel vancouver, at government expense, and that they should eat their meals in the hotel restaurants or in the "Public Restaurant" at the courthouse. It's weird, the only sign that says "public restaurant" is well hidden behind a panel.

      You don't need to pay to use a public toilet. Do you need to pay to use a public restaurant?

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      Rick in PoMo

      Jan 3, 2015 at 6:45am

      "On average, families receiving rental assistance now receive an extra $40 per month and seniors now receive an extra $34 per month."

      But the MSP payment is now $72 per month for a single person. So, seniors will get an extra $34 per month in one hand, only to be taken away with the MSP in the other. Why burden seniors with having to pay MSP? Maybe more to the point, why is BC the only province with MSP payments? Are we moving in the direction of Obamacare? Presumably some of this can be traced back to the Federal government stunt of reducing the GST from 7% to 5%.

      I am a UK ex-pat. In the UK from age 60, there are no prescription charges, so any medication (I think Viagra :-) is not included) is at no charge to the patient. However, yes the tax rate is higher with VAT (GST) at 17.5% (but not on postage stamps). So, again, why are seniors burdened with extra costs and then given GIS to offset them?

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      Ya, right...

      Jan 3, 2015 at 12:22pm

      Housing Matters.
      Families First.
      Catchy phrases and pocket change...

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      Patty Shaw

      Jan 7, 2015 at 8:08am

      Dear Rich Coleman,
      I don't see a commitment to helping seniors, people with disabilities, single parents, new Canadians and others keep the rent subsidies that make their homes affordable. The time is now and I am asking you to step up.

      Between now and 2017, one quarter of housing co-ops in BC will lose rent-geared-to income subsidies for low-income members as their federal housing agreements end.

      There are over 1500 households will face a crisis as their homes become unaffordable. By 2020, this number will climb to 3000 households. This will affect seniors, people with disabilities, new Canadians and others on limited or fixed incomes.

      Housing co-ops support diverse, mixed-income communities; but without ongoing rent assistance, their low-income members will be at risk. If these members have to leave their co-op homes they will be facing the most expensive rental market in the country.

      As federal housing agreements end and buildings age, we must work together to preserve these valuable homes and vibrant communities.

      I am calling on governments at all levels to act together to maintain rent-geared-to-income assistance for low-income co-op members in BC and across Canada.

      Rich Coleman, you have the ability to do this. You need to to support a provincial rent assistance program for those co-ops whose federal operating agreements are ending. YOU hold the key to helping low income co-op members stay in their homes.

      Thank you.

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      Jan 14, 2015 at 2:56pm

      I work with low income single moms and I have seen first hand the power of some of these programs. Rental Assistance Program is a huge help to struggling families and the commitment to develop more social housing is integral to taking care of our vulnerable citizens.
      We have a minister who cares about housing and wants to help. Does he have the ability/ funding to solve all crisis? No. But let's support a strategy that's actually doing something. Let's encourage MORE development of resources for those who need. Encourage gov't and non-profit partnerships!
      Your criticism does nothing to help these people out of poverty.

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