CHF BC responds to BC Budget news

  16 February 2016

Balanced budget doesn’t address affordable housing deficit

BC’s budget may balance on paper, but it doesn’t do enough to address a growing affordable housing deficit, according to the federation representing the province’s housing co-ops.

Thom Armstrong, Executive Director of the Co-operative Housing Federation of BC (CHF BC) acknowledges the province’s bold plan to invest $355 million over the next five years to create 2,000 new affordable homes. “That’s real leadership,” says Armstrong, “and very welcome news to the co-op and non-profit housing sectors.”

But that gain will turn into a net loss unless the government also acts now to protect nearly 4,000 low-income co-op households at risk of homelessness as federal co-op agreements expire.“We’re calling on the province to work closely with the federal government to protect these most vulnerable British Columbians,” said Armstrong.  “It doesn’t make any sense to create 2,000 new affordable homes only to lose nearly 4,000 in roughly the same time period.”Thousands of low-income co-op households in B.C. face a crisis.  As federal housing agreements expire, so does the rent assistance that keeps their homes affordable.

CHF BC is proposing a modest rent supplement program funded by the federal and provincial governments and administered by BC Housing to protect those low-income households, which include seniors, people with disabilities, single parents, new Canadians and others with low or fixed incomes.Armstrong insists that now is the time for the province to act. “We need the B.C. government to send a signal to Ottawa before the upcoming federal budget is introduced to say that they’re ready to partner in providing rent assistance to low-income co-op members,” said Armstrong.“We don’t expect one level of government to shoulder the entire burden, but it’s time for everyone to show some leadership and reassure those thousands of low-income households that they won’t lose their homes.”

CHF BC is a co-operative association made up of member housing co-ops and related organizations in B.C. The association represents 264 co-op communities (comprising more than 14,500 households) across the province.

For background on the “You hold the key: fix the co-op housing crunch” campaign, please visit the You Hold the Key campaign website.