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Federal Housing Policy ‘Step in Right Direction,’ Says Horgan

Premier promises initiatives in February budget, hedges on campaign promise of 114,000 new units.

Andrew MacLeod 22 Nov 2017TheTyee.ca

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

While he hadn’t yet seen the details Wednesday afternoon, B.C. Premier John Horgan welcomed the release of the federal government’s National Housing Strategy.

“If we’re going to crack the affordability crisis in housing in British Columbia, we’ll all have to work together, so this is a step in the right direction,” Horgan told reporters.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a housing strategy Wednesday that included a $40-billion commitment over 10 years.

Horgan said the time frame matches the NDP’s campaign commitment earlier this year. The New Democrats promised 114,000 new housing units would be created over a decade, a goal Horgan today said was “aspirational” and covers a period that will include at least two elections.

Responding to recent research that found B.C.’s high prices are not the result of a lack of supply, Horgan said both supply and demand are factors. “If we do not find ways to make the supply side work, all of our efforts on the demand side will be for naught.”

The government is also working on measures to address issues around demand and there will be a “basket of initiatives” included in the February budget, he said.

The federal strategy will help the province address housing affordability, Horgan said. “We need to address the low-income side, we need to address the lack of affordable rental accommodation, social housing, co-op housing needs to be reinvigorated.”

Adding supply doesn’t mean simply encouraging more condo buildings, he said. “We need to build houses and homes for families. That means two- and three-bedroom units, that means building density around transportation corridors.”

Increasing the availability of homes will “create a dynamic” that will bring costs down, Horgan said. “We don’t need any more one-bedroom condos. We need to make sure we’re building homes for people and families or we’re going to have vacant cities not vibrant cities.”

A joint statement from provincial housing ministers welcomed the federal announcement and called for discussions on how to implement the strategy in each jurisdiction.

“Ministers look forward to receiving more details in the coming weeks and recognize further work is required to ensure there are no missed opportunities to develop new affordable housing, prevent homelessness, and preserve the existing social housing stock for future generations of Canadians,” it said.  [Tyee]

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