BC Housing says “affordable housing” is a loose term where subsidized housing has more to do with a program. (File photo).

BC Housing says “affordable housing” is a loose term where subsidized housing has more to do with a program. (File photo).

What is ‘affordable housing?’

The province aims to offer more affordable housing options to people, but the definition is complex

Greater Victoria residents often hear about affordable housing, but few have a good idea of what that means.

Even BC Housing has a hard time defining it; on its website, affordable housing is defined as “housing with rents equal, or lower than, average rates in the private market.”

While average rental rates are largely unaffordable, BC Housing regional director of operations of Vancouver Island, Heidi Hartman, explained this definition is based on delayed calculations from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation which determines what rates should be.

“The numbers from the CMHC are typically about a year behind,” Hartman said. “So, the rates are usually lower than what it actually is.”

ALSO READ: Victoria council proposes five affordable housing strategies

Still, Hartman said affordable housing is hard to define, mostly because it’s more of a loose label rather than a concrete idea.

“Affordable housing is a term where subsidized housing has more to do with a program,” said Hartman, “It’s more a definition of when housing costs aren’t more than 30 per cent of a household’s gross income.”

This means rent is determined on a sliding scale based on income, which means two neighbours living in similar units will pay different rents.

“For example, folks at Evergreen Terrace will pay 30 per cent,” Hartman said. “One person makes $24,000 per year and pays 30 per cent, and for somebody that’s making $40,000, it’ll also be 30 per cent.”

Every year BC Housing has annual income testing is done to see if this rate needs to change based on promotions, demotions or a change in assets.

ALSO READ: Premier John Horgan unveils more affordable housing in Langford

“They’d provide their pay stubs and we’d calculate the rent rate,” Hartman said.

This is similar, but different, to subsidized housing, which always sits at 30 per cent of income, but where the province interjects with further funding which allows residents receiving income assistance to pay a flat rate. This can be seen in subsidized housing units from the Cool Aid Society, Pacifica Housing and some co-operative housing complexes.

In November the province announced $492 million in funding for affordable housing projects in 42 communites across the province. This will include 588 units in Victoria, 85 in Saanich, 80 in Langford and 161 in Esquimalt.

READ MORE: City of Victoria to see 588 affordable housing units

Projects built under the Building BC: Community Housing Fund will reflect three different income levels.

Twenty per cent of units will be those with low incomes who need subsidization, such as seniors, people on fixed incomes or those on income assistance. The income limit will be $30,000, depending on unit size.

Fifty per cent of units will range from low-to-moderate incomes, which range from $21,000 to $95,000, with the range limited by specific location and unit size. This means the low-to-moderate income bracket would cap at $58,000 for a two-bedroom in Vancouver for example, while it would cap at $37,000 in Smithers.

Thirty per cent of units will be for middle incomes, for up to $72,000 for homes with less than two bedrooms, or up to $104,000 for homes with two bedrooms or more.

According to the 2018 Canadian Rental Housing Index, one-in-five British Columbians pay more than 50 per cent of their income on rent.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

affordable housing

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Marc Porpaczy said he’s glad he delayed his daily walk with his dog, Juno, after a car crashed just outside his driveway just before 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 25. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
VIDEO: Dramatic crash highlights need for sidewalks, say Colwood residents

‘The residents have gone from frustrated to angry’

(Black Press Media file photo)
VicPD arrest man at gunpoint after firearm call

Man faces charges for breaching condition not to possess replica firearms

Jerry Dyck plans to purchase a new RV to drive across Canada in, once it’s safe to travel again. (Courtesy BCLC)
Victoria man plans post-pandemic cross-Canada RV trip after $2M lottery win

Retired electrician bought the winning ticket in Duncan

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant, 31, is wanted by the RCMP after failing to appear in provincial court in Nanaimo in December. Police warn Savidant should be considered violent. (Photo Submitted)
Warrant out for man accused of stolen property offences across Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant did not appear for court date in Nanaimo last month, say RCMP

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Second doses delayed as B.C. vaccine delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Local musician and artist Daisy Melville created a watercolour portrait of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from the recent American inauguration, and with help from her mom, is now selling t-shirts and more with funds going to the Comox Valley Food Bank. Image submitted
Island artist turns Sanders inauguration meme into art for good

All proceeds from the sale of shirts, sweaters and more will go to the Comox Valley Food Bank

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Most Read