The Columbia Journal
P.O. Box 2633 MPO,
Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada V6B 3W8
Province diverting Federal Funds from Housing, report
CPP News Service
The provincial government is playing a shell game with social housing
in BC, diverting $89 million in federal funds earmarked for new social
housing into assisted living spaces in the health care system,
according to a new report.
Home Insecurity: The State of Social Housing in BC was released today
by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Tenants’ Rights
Action Coalition. The report finds that the provincial government is
abandoning its long-standing commitment to build new social housing,
focusing instead on assisted living for the elderly and people with
disabilities. In addition to diverting federal funds, the province is
converting part of the existing social housing stock into assisted
living spaces in order to meet its promises in health care.
“The government is playing fast and loose with the numbers, counting
the same units as assisted living, long-term care, and social housing”
says John Irwin, author of the report and a researcher with the CCPA.
“Assisted living is an important part of the health care system, but it
is not social housing. This is a fundamental shift away from providing
housing for people in economic need.”
Irwin says the government’s actions are cost-cutting gone wrong. “We’re
not saving money by putting an end to new social housing. We’re just
setting ourselves up for more costs down the road,” says Irwin,
pointing to the government’s own research. A 2001 provincial
government-sponsored study found that the costs of service and shelter
for homeless people ranged from $30,000 to $40,000 per year, compared
to $22,000 to $28,000 for housed individuals (including the cost of
The report says that if the $89 million in federal funds were properly
allocated, it could create up to 2,500 new social housing units in BC.
New social housing units are needed to meet rising demand—the waiting
list for social housing in BC has risen over the past two years, after
declining slightly during the 1990s.
Changes to the Residential Tenancy Act allow landlords to make
significant increases in rent, which the report says could further
increase the demand for social housing. “Thousands of people cannot
afford market rents as it is,” says Irwin. Roughly 65,000 BC households
are in “deep core housing need,” spending more than 50% of their income