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

This property, at 1980 Fairfield Place, is adjoined to Gonzales Hill Park and is the centre of community opposition and a B.C. Supreme Court case as owners are looking to build a single-family home on the lot. Jake Romphf/News Staff
Home construction near Victoria’s Gonzales Hill Park spurs legal battle

Gonzales Hill Preservation Society worried about impacts to the park’s wildlife, rare fauna, views

Construction of the next phase of Dockside Green, which will include three condo buildings, is now underway, Bosa Developments announced April 9. (Bosa Developments)
Construction underway, homes for sale at Victoria’s Dockside Green

Bosa Developments took over the site from Vancity in 2017

Best of the City 2019 (Sergej Krivenko photo)
Voting opens for Victoria’s annual Best of the City

Annual awards mark 27th year in Greater Victoria

A man with a history of sexual offences was arrested after he followed and aggressively tried to talk to two young woman on the weekend. Black Press File Photo
Man convicted of sexual offences arrested after teens followed in Victoria

Women hid in a Quadra Village convenience store as man aggressively tried to get in

Traffic heading south on Highway 17 and looking to turn left onto Beacon Avenue wait for the light to turn Tuesday morning. A report finds the intersection is experiencing “failing levels of service” for certain movements during the morning peak hours as well as the afternoon peak hours. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Major Sidney intersection already deficient predicted to get worse

New report also finds area’s pedestrian and cycling infrastructure in need of improvement

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you have a plan in place in the event of a tsunami?

Tsunamis have claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people between 1998… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 13

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Vancouver police say eight people were arrested Wednesday after anti-pipeline protesters blocked off both the entrances and exits to two buildings in the downtown core. (Instagram/Qtcatspictureclub)
8 people arrested after anti-pipeline protestors chain themselves to Vancouver buildings

Cst. Tania Visintin said demonstrators caused ‘a serious safety hazard’ downtown for hours Wednesday

Jamie Coutts recorded a man following her around downtown Vancouver for a half-hour on Wednesday, March 18. (Instagram screenshot/Iammjammbamm)
Man charged in alleged high-profile Vancouver stalking case that went viral online

Man faces five other charges including criminal harassment and assault with a weapon

A sea lion swims past the window of an empty viewing area Vancouver Aquarium is pictured Thursday, September 10, 2020. The Vancouver Aquarium has had to close its doors to the public due to the lack of visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
U.S.-based theme park company buys Vancouver Aquarium

Aquarium had to shut its doors in September due to COVID pandemic

Legendary broadcaster Bernie Pascall is among in the Class of 2021 to be inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. (PQB News file photo)
Island broadcasting legend Bernie Pascall named to Canadian Football Hall of Fame

Pascall named by Football Reporters of Canada as inductee in the 2021 class in the media category

A man wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
COVID-19 spike in B.C. could overwhelm B.C. hospitals: modelling group

There are 397 people are in hospital due to the virus, surpassing a previous high of 374 seen in December

Most Read