British Columbia commits to "Homes for People" plan to create affordable housing
Have you been struggling to find affordable housing in British Columbia? If so, you're not alone. The real estate market in B.C. has been through the roof, making it nearly impossible for many people to find a place to call home. But here's some good news: the provincial government has just announced a new plan to address the housing issue.
What is the Homes for People plan?
Known as the Homes for People plan, the B.C. government has recently pledged a commitment to affordability, investing $4-billion over three years and $12 billion over a decade to build more houses at a faster speed.
The plan, according to the Premier, focuses on four key things:
- Building homes faster to meet high demand
- Delivering affordable homes that fit everyone's needs
- Prioritizing assistance and housing for those in greatest need
- Creating a housing market that benefits everyone, not just investors and speculators
This plan is built upon the province’s Homes for B.C. plan, which was introduced in 2018 and represented, at the time, the largest investment in housing affordability in the province's history: a whopping $7 billion.
The province pledges to building more homes
Alongside the Homes for People plan, the B.C. government is also launching a new public housing program called B.C. Builds, which is focused on building affordable homes for middle-income households. Through this strategy, the government is buying land near public transit hubs and building up to 10,000 homes over the next 10 to 15 years. And to help make sure there are enough workers to build all those homes, they're looking into policies to ease the construction labour shortage.
They're also planning to create thousands of additional social housing units over the next decade. That includes 6,000 more homes for bigger families and seniors, 1,750 more for Indigenous people on- and off-reserve, and 1,500 more for women and children who need a safe place to go. It's all part of their commitment to making sure everyone in the province has a decent, affordable place to call home.
Similarly the government has also proposed building 3,900 new supportive housing units and 240 complex care spaces, to reduce homelessness in the province. They're also putting together teams to quickly respond to encampments and provide support to people who are currently living outdoors.
They plan to allow more homes on single lots
Under the new legislation, homeowners all over the province will also be allowed to build up to four homes on a traditional single-family lot. This gives homeowners the chance to create secondary suites, such as basement units or even duplexes, townhomes, and triplexes.
The B.C. government is also planning to roll out a new program in early 2024 that will help encourage homeowners to build secondary suites.
Not only will you be able to apply for a loan to cover 50% of the renovation costs, but they will also be eligible for loan forgiveness if they agree to rent the unit below market rate for a minimum of five years. This is part of the province's efforts to increase housing affordability and make it easier for homeowners to create secondary suites.
This isn’t a new move, however. Vancouver is currently exploring the possibility of increasing the number of units allowed in single-family neighborhoods to up to six, including the potential for multiplexes. If this gets approved, it would build on Vancouver's current regulations that allow basement suites and laneway houses.
The government is implementing a flipping tax
The government of British Columbia is rolling out a new flipping tax aimed at discouraging real estate speculation. The goal is to deter people from buying homes with the intention of holding them for a short period of time, renovating them, and selling them for a higher price, which drives up housing costs.
In addition to the flipping tax, the British Columbia government is planning to crack down on short-term rentals and streamline the permit process to make it faster and cheaper. They want to ensure that people have access to affordable housing.
The bottom line
It's important to note that the Homes for People plan is not a silver bullet solution to the housing crisis in B.C.. The government acknowledges that there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure that everyone in the province has access to safe and affordable housing. However, the plan represents a significant step in the right direction and demonstrates the government's commitment to addressing this critical issue.
If you’re currently in the process of looking for a home in British Columbia, connect with one of Pine’s mortgage agents today – and we’d be happy to help answer any questions.