Agreement reached on affordable housing investments

A $180-million funding agreement between the federal and provincial governments is expected to help create more affordable housing options for B.C. residents and continue to reduce the

  • Jul. 27, 2011 6:00 a.m.

A $180-million funding agreement between the federal and provincial governments is expected to help create more affordable housing options for B.C. residents and continue to reduce the

number of households in housing need.

Under the agreement, both orders of government will provide matching contributions of $90 million each over the next three years to fund programs that support a range of housing needs for low-income individuals,

families and seniors. The overall objective of the agreement is to improve access to affordable housing that is sound, suitable and sustainable.

Funding can go toward new construction, renovation, homeownership assistance, rent supplements, shelter allowances, and accommodations for victims of family violence.

The agreement comes as a result of the recently announced Investment in Affordable Housing 2011-2014 Framework Agreement between the federal, provincial and territorial governments. The framework recognizes the diversity of affordable housing needs of Canadians and that a range of solutions is needed to meet local needs and priorities. Under this framework, provinces and territories have responsibility for the design and delivery of affordable housing programs that address specific housing needs in their jurisdictions.

Both orders of government will report annually to the public regarding the investments and progress toward achieving the intended outcomes of the initiative.

James Moore, minister of Canadian heritage and minister for official languages and regional minister for B.C., and Rich Coleman, minister of energy and mines and minister responsible for housing, made the announcement Saturday.

“Our government is committed to working with the province of British Columbia to develop and implement solutions to housing,” Moore said. “This agreement recognizes the need for local solutions to housing challenges and the importance of reporting on progress on achievement of outcomes.”

“Over the last decade, the province has invested $2.8 billion and created more than 20,000 new units of affordable housing,” Coleman said. “These accomplishments have been driven by a sound provincial housing strategy, strategic investments and partnerships with all levels of government and community agencies. This new agreement will help us continue to create safe, quality, affordable housing for B.C. residents in need.

The announcement was made at Sorella, a new 108-unit supportive housing development for women at risk of homelessness in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. Sorella received more than $20 million from both levels of government through an earlier funding agreement, along with funding from the City of Vancouver. The federal contribution is $6.2 million, and the provincial contribution is more than $14.5 million.

“This new federal-provincial agreement will increase the potential for a range of housing options for people who need it most,” said Karen Stone, executive director of the B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association. “Non-profit housing providers are a key partner in managing more than 60,000 affordable housing units in B.C., and our providers and tenants look forward to greater housing affordability options.”

In September 2008, the federal government committed to a five-year investment of more than $1.9 billion in housing and homelessness to address the needs of low-income Canadians, those at risk of homelessness, and the homeless.

This included a two-year renewal of the Affordable Housing Initiative and renovation programs until March 31, 2011 with a commitment to consult on the use of the investments for the 2011-14 period.

In the fall of 2009, federal, provincial and territorial governments, as well as municipalities, public and private stakeholders, engaged on how best to use federal funding from 2011 to 2014.

Federal, provincial and territorial housing ministers also met in December 2009 to discuss the future of these investments.