As British Columbians struggle financially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, all three of B.C.’s major parties have released housing affordability promises in an attempt to woo voters.
The incumbent NDP have promised a 10-year Homes For B.C. plan to “to build and revitalize affordable homes for everyone from students to seniors.” As part of that plan, the NDP vowed to build 114,000 affordable rental and supportive homes across the province, 25,000 of which they say are already completed or currently being built. The party said 5,000 of the units will be supportive housing, and that rent supplements will be paid out to people ready to leave supporting housing.
The party has also pledged to extend the current rent freeze, in place until Dec. 1 due to the pandemic, up until the end of 2021. The NDP have also said they will cap rent increases in future years to inflation.
For households with an income of up to $80,000 annually, the party will also provide a $400 renters rebate if they are not receiving another form of rental aid.
Developers have been promised that the NDP will “streamline and modernize housing construction” by nixing minimum parking requirements for housing built near transit. The party will also bring in a single-window provincial permitting process and work with municipal governments to make the local approval process simpler.
People living in stratas have been promised that a public insurance option will be developed if a solution to sky-rocketing costs is not found by the end of 2021.
For B.C’s indigenous community, the NDP said it will build the units remaining in its prior $550 million commitment to develop 1,750 new homes, both on and off reserve.
On the BC Liberal side of the aisle, the party said they will do better than the NDP, which the Liberals accuse of having completed just 2,963 units out the promised 114,000. The BC Liberals have pledged to get rid of the NDP’s “phoney” speculation tax by bringing in what they dub a “true real-estate speculation tax,” which will involve moving to a condo-flipping capital gains tax. The Liberals also said they will bring in higher property taxes for non-resident home owners.
In terms of strata insurance, the Liberals said they will facilitate a self-insurance model and eliminate “best-terms” pricing. The party also said it will reduce required insurance from full replacement value to a level “in line with actual claims cost history.”
The BC Liberals said they will work with municipalities to review current property taxes to incentivize developers to build affordable rental housing, as well as bring in an “incentive fund” for local governments. The party also said it would make sure there was no net loss ff rental units due to developer projects.
Further, the Liberals said they would implement tax and permitting changes they say will boost housing supply. The party said it will also spend funds to get homeless people in B.C. into housing and connect them with social services.
For their part, the BC Greens said they will bring in a “housing first” approach to speed up supportive and social housing projects. The party said it will also extend leases for co-ops and create a land bank for future co-ops. The Greens also said they will work with municipalities to expand townhouses and triplex housing option and deal with the current issues in strata insurance costs.
The party has said it will close loopholes in speculation tax that currently exempt satellite families and some foreign owners.
On the rental affordability front, the BC Greens said they will establish a means-tested grant for low to moderate income households paying more than 30 per cent of their income in rent, as well as introduce a capital fund to support the buying and maintaining of rental housing by non-profits.
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