Abbotsford has been shut out of a half-billion-dollar rental housing program by the B.C. government, but Mayor Henry Braun says the private sector seems to be responding to sky-high demand for homes to rent
Details of the province’s $516 million investment into rental housing were revealed Tuesday, but of the 68 projects in 38 different communities around B.C., none are in the central Fraser Valley.
According to the province, “the new housing projects will serve a wide range of needs including low- to moderate-income renters, seniors, youth, adults with developmental disabilities, Aboriginal people and women and children.”
They are being funded by the province’s Housing Priority Initiatives Fund to help renters in high-pressure rental markets.
The projects are estimated to produce 5,500 new jobs, Premier Christy Clark said Tuesday.
Housing minister Rich Coleman said non-profit organizations and municipalities could be seeing the money for these projects by the end of the fiscal year, with 12 to 24 months of construction to follow.
He noted these some of the buildings will include wrap-around resources in the buildings such as addiction resources, mental-health workers and social workers.
In July, Finance Minister – and Abbotsford West MLA – Mike De Jong told The News: “I would suggest plenty of evidence Abbotsford is receiving its fair share and it will continue to receive its fair share,” he said.
Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said at the time he hoped Abbotsford would see some funding.
On Wednesday, he said he had hoped to see at least one project, but was hopeful that more funding might be forthcoming. In the meantime, he noted that private development of rental apartments in Abbotsford has risen significantly this year, with around 1,100 units either under construction or in the planning, approval and permitting stages, according to the city.
That, he predicted, will have a “trickle-down effect” in the rental housing market, and ease the strain for those looking to find an affordable home.
He noted that hundreds of units will be built well before any of those projects announced Tuesday begin welcoming residents.
Abbotsford had a record low rental vacancy rate of 0.6 per cent last year, according to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Mission’s rental vacancy rate was 3.2 per cent.
Of the 68 projects announced Tuesday, 22 will be built in six different Lower Mainland communities. With 15 projects between them, Vancouver and Surrey will see 937 units of new rental housing built. Chilliwack is the only Fraser Valley community east of Surrey where projects will be built. That city will see two projects with 115 rental units constructed.
An email statment from BC Housing noted said:
“Projects were selected based on readiness to proceed, viability of the project, demonstrated need and demand, and ability to provide affordable rental housing.
“We will continue to work with communities to develop as many projects as possible in order to create more affordable housing for British Columbians in need.”
The statement also cited $9.4 million of subsidized housing and rent supplements for close to 2,000 households in Abbotsford in 2015/16.
Since 2008, the province has funded three supportive housing projects for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, including the Gladys Avenue project set for opening in early 2017.
Watch Abbynews.com for more.
– with files from Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press