Better rental policy needed in B.C. budget, housing advocates say
Vancouver is one of the worst cities to live in when it comes to renting says non-profit housing organization
Affordable housing advocates hope tomorrow's provincial budget will include more policy measures to help renters in the province.
The B.C. government announced last Friday it is committing $355 million toward creating affordable housing over the next four years through a transfer program created in 2014.
The government is selling social housing projects to non-profit organizations through this program.
But the B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association says the lump sum is not enough to improve the province's dismal rental vacancy rate in what it calls one of the worst cities in the world for tenants.
"I want this budget tomorrow to be extremely activist when it comes to housing. Not just around social housing, not just money for co-ops. [But also] rent subsidies or supplements for people in need," said CEO Tony Roy.
"What I want to see is a longer term stable plan for housing affordability in this province, not a simple injection that comes in once and disappears."
Don't forget about renters
Politicians should spend more time creating policies for renters and not just homeowners, said Roy.
"I think people have generally just focused in on homeowners — which actually doesn't make sense because most people in the Lower Mainland are renters."
Some housing advocates, like Maria Wallstam from the Carnegie Community Action Project in Vancouver, are pushing the provincial government to tighten the current rent control policy.
Currently, landlords in B.C. can increase rent by two per cent plus inflation each year and many of them are not using that increased revenue to upgrade old buildings, she said.
But Roy says the government should be wary of making it more difficult for landlords because the province already has a supply problem when it comes to rental housing.
"What we need [developers] to do is build for rental housing … we need to start zoning for purpose-built rental and social housing and co-ops."
This is where incentives can prove useful, according to Roy.
"What we actually need are more carrots, not sticks."