Building affordable housing, so people can create strong communities

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Premier John Horgan speaks with community members at an affordable housing announcement in Victoria

By Premier John Horgan,

When I first heard the story, I thought it was the plot for a TV show. A young, working mother living with her kids in an apartment in Vancouver. Her downstairs neighbour is an elderly woman who comes over weekly to help with child care and house cleaning. Over the months of living in the same building and being a regular part of each other’s lives, the two women become friends.

But, it’s not a TV show, it’s the real-life story of a family living in the Belcourt Residence, an affordable housing complex in downtown Vancouver. The complex was built in July 2018 and is home to 70 low- to middle-income families and individuals.

This year, I heard a lot of stories about affordable housing projects bringing people together from different economic and cultural backgrounds to create real, caring communities. For seniors who are on a fixed income, like the elderly woman at Belcourt Residence, being part of a community keeps her active and less isolated, while also helping her with monthly expenses. The support she offers to the family in return, helps give the single mother a chance to run errands or have some down time.

For too long, the previous government let housing costs rise and rise, while people struggled to find homes. We now have an out-of-control housing market that doesn’t discriminate – people of all income levels are having a hard time finding a place they can afford.

Our government is making different choices and working hard every day to tackle the housing crisis in different ways, depending on community needs.

We are making the largest investment in affordable housing in B.C.’s history – $7 billion over 10 years. This includes helping both private and public sector organizations increase housing supply in every corner of the province.

We are working with partners to build 114,000 affordable homes, and more than 22,000 of those are already complete or underway in just two years. This includes homes for a range of people in need – seniors on fixed-incomes, middle-income families, students and Indigenous peoples.

Last week, our government celebrated the opening of Cedar Valley Suites, an affordable housing complex in Mission. 68 new homes are now available to people in that community, with monthly rents ranging from $375 to $1,323. Like many communities in B.C., Mission is facing an extremely low vacancy rate, and this new housing project will go a long way in helping families of all sizes.

Cedar Valley Suites is just one of many affordable housing projects built through our government’s HousingHub program. Through collaborative partnerships, the HousingHub works with community, government and non-profits to help create new, affordable rental homes and home-ownership opportunities for people all over the province. There are over 2,000 HousingHub units in communities across B.C., including Colwood, Kelowna, Nanaimo, Revelstoke and Squamish.

This is only the beginning. We are working with partners across all sectors in innovative new ways to deliver the housing people need.

The housing crisis didn’t appear overnight, and it won’t be fixed overnight, but we are taking bold steps to make sure every British Columbian has a place to call home. As we move into the new year, I look forward to hearing more stories of people creating community together, in their new, safe and affordable homes.