Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.


The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Housing numbers mask lack of new units: CCPA report

Homelessness has grown in British Columbia because of a failure of the federal and provincial governments to build new social housing units, according to a new report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

“There is no great mystery behind the emergence of widespread homelessness in BC,” wrote authors Seth Klein and Lorraine Copas in Unpacking the Housing Numbers, released today. While many factors contributed to the rise in homelessness, they wrote, “there is also the simple fact that as a society we used to be considerably better at bringing new affordable housing units on-line every year.”

Using figures from B.C. Housing's service plans, Klein and Copas looked at why homelessness has increased despite the agency's claim to be helping 11,530 more people a year than it was five years ago.

They found that most of the increase was in the form of a rental assistance programs that subsidize people to find homes in the private sector. There had also been an increase of 1,420 emergency shelter beds and 1,550 units bought in existing single room occupancy hotels.

While the SROs kept units available, they did not add new social housing.

Over five years, in fact, only 280 social housing units were built in the province—about 55 units a year.

That compares badly with the 1,000 to 1,500 units a year that were built between the mid 1970s and early 1990s in the province, with financial support from the federal government, they wrote.

It would cost about $500 million to add 2,000 units of housing each year, Copas and Klein wrote. “Surely in a province as wealthy as ours, that is not asking too much to end the homeless crisis in BC.”

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus