Provincial grants help communities map, meet housing needs
Local governments will benefit from nearly $1.5 million in provincial grants for developing housing needs reports to plan for long-term housing needs and support strong local economies.
The first intake of the housing needs reports funding program approved 30 applications, involving 50 municipalities and 10 regional districts in all parts of the Province.
“I am excited to see so many strong applications from municipalities and regional districts that are eager to identify and meet their housing needs, so people can live, work and continue to build prosperous lives in their communities,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “Collectively, we need to work together to build the right kinds of homes for people across the province. These reports will give us the kind of community-specific information we need to make sure we meet people’s housing needs.”
New legislation will ensure local governments collect data, analyze trends and develop a report every five years on current and anticipated housing needs. To support this work, the Province is providing $5 million over the next three years through a program administered by the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM).
“UBCM is pleased to be working with the Province to deliver this funding program to our members,” said Arjun Singh, president, UBCM. “Effective housing policy needs a high level of collaboration and co-operation between orders of government. This new provincial funding will improve data collection and consistency across communities and support evidence-based policy, as called for in UBCM’s housing report.”
Successful applicants outlined their plans for a comprehensive approach to understanding local housing needs, including engagement with the public, First Nations, vulnerable populations and a wide range of local stakeholders.
The reports will assess key housing needs, including the need for affordable housing, rental housing and homes for seniors, people with special needs, families and people at risk of homelessness. They will also help inform decisions to develop workforce housing to help employers retain employees and support local economic growth. The Province has made most of the data required by local governments, such as demographics and household income levels, available online at no cost.
Once complete, each report will be presented to a local government council or board. The reports will also be publicly available online to anyone seeking to better understand local housing needs.
The next intake for funding is open until Nov. 29, 2019.
Delivering affordable housing is a shared commitment between government and the BC Green Party caucus and is a part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.
Taylor Bachrach, mayor, Town of Smithers —
“We have long known there are gaps in our housing supply and a low rental vacancy rate. A housing needs study will give us a community-wide view of our housing situation and help us choose approaches that will best meet current and future demands. We greatly appreciate the funding announced today and our ongoing partnership with the Province to ensure appropriate, affordable housing for all.”
Andrew Hory, board chair, Regional District of Mt. Waddington —
“We are very pleased our regional application for funding for the now mandated housing needs assessment was successful. We look forward to working through the process and achieving greater clarity of our needs and, by extension, where our efforts can best be utilized.”
Ken Popove, mayor, City of Chilliwack —
“We are grateful the Province recognizes the importance of identifying housing needs across B.C. and for its continued investment in our community. The results of this process will quantify housing needs across the housing continuum in Chilliwack and help guide future policy and development.”
- Under the new requirements, local governments must produce their first housing needs report by April 2022 and every five years after.
- Housing needs reports are another tool to help the Province work with local governments and other partners to build 114,000 new affordable homes around B.C. by 2028.
Housing needs reports requirements and supporting data and guidance: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/housing-tenancy/local-governments-and-housing/policy-and-planning-tools-for-housing/housing-needs-reports
To apply for provincial funding administered by UBCM, visit: https://www.ubcm.ca/EN/main/funding/lgps/housing-needs-report-program.html
For a snapshot of progress on B.C.’s 10-year housing plan, visit: https://workingforyou.gov.bc.ca/
A backgrounder follows.
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