MAYOR’S MESSAGE: Victoria could benefit greatly from federal housing leadership

MAYOR’S MESSAGE: Victoria could benefit greatly from federal housing leadership

Lisa Helps says National Housing Strategy could dovetail nicely into regional program

Last week, I along with other mayors across Canada, welcomed Prime Minister Trudeau’s announcement of a 10-year, $40-billion National Housing Strategy (NHS). Its target is to reduce homelessness and improve the availability and quality of housing in Canada.

This is a welcome announcement for us in Victoria for five key reasons and means we can seriously tackle housing affordability, a fundamental concern of everyone living here.

First, at long last, it puts Canada in line with other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. Until last week, Canada was the only OECD country without a national housing strategy.

Second, the most significant commitment in the strategy is to enshrine housing as a right for Canadians, recognizing that safe, secure affordable housing is critical to individual and community well-being, and key to a strong and prosperous economy.

Third, I welcome the federal Strategy’s ambitious goals:

• Reduce chronic homelessness by 50 per cent;

• Build 100,000 new affordable housing units;

• Repair 300,000 affordable housing units;

• Provide 300,000 households with financial assistance;

• Protect 385,000 households from losing an affordable home and;

• Remove more than 530,000 households from core housing need.

And its delivery programs:

• The Canada Housing Benefit will help families by providing an average rent subsidy of $2,500 annually beginning in April 2020 and concluding in 2028. The National Housing Co-Investment Fund will provide financial contributions and low interest loans to developers that meet certain energy, accessibility and affordability standards.

• The Canada Community Housing Initiative will support provinces and territories to support their housing efforts. Combined with matching provincial funds, the total investment will be $8.6 billion. The NHS also commits to ensuring that at least 25 per cent of funds go to projects for women, girls and their families.

Fourth, the federal strategy aligns with the City of Victoria’s own Housing Strategy, by increasing the supply of affordable housing, helping low- to moderate-income individuals and families access market rental housing, protecting the existing rental housing stock through upgrades and repair and specifically allocating funds to projects benefiting women and their families.

Finally, it aligns with the Capital Region’s Housing First Program – a $60-million joint venture between the CRD, BC Housing, Island Health and the Coalition to End Homelessness. Over the next five years, Housing First will see 880 units built in the region, including 268 at shelter rates, a further number at 50 per cent of market rates and additional units at 85 per cent of market rates.

Last December, the CRD applied to the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation Innovation Fund for another $30 million. If this is delivered, the total unit count will rise to 1,340 units in the region. These are in addition to the National Housing Strategy units, which will add both new or repaired affordable housing units, provided that the funds are allocated proportionally by population. (To see how the City and region would benefit if NHS resources were allocated proportionally by population, see the table below)

But there’s also a case to be made to the federal government to highlight the disproportionate share of housing costs and housing need in expensive cities like Victoria to try to secure more funding.

Between the National Housing Strategy and the Regional Housing First Program, we will finally start to see some relief for people living on low incomes in our region. We’ve waited a long time in this region for national leadership and for this money to be available.

Now, let’s work together to get the much-needed housing built.

Lisa Helps is the mayor of Victoria.

affordable housing

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

 

MAYOR’S MESSAGE: Victoria could benefit greatly from federal housing leadership

Just Posted

The District of Saanich is accepting nominations for the 2021 Environmental Awards until June 1 at 4 p.m. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Nominations now open for Saanich’s 21st annual Environmental Awards

Awards recognize individuals and organizations making Saanich more sustainable

Rotary Club of Victoria-Harbourside president Angus Macpherson visited the Wear2Start Society boutique in Victoria to present a cheque to the society’s vice-president Alessandra Ringstad (left) and president Angela Mangiacasale. (Courtesy of Wear2Start)
Rotary club donates over $11,000 to Greater Victoria non-profit for women

Wear2Start Society provides clothing for women in need

Adrienne Rogers (LPN) and Tracy McConnell (RN) on the Victoria Hospice Unit. (Photo courtesy of Victoria Hospice)
Victoria Hospice bereavement counsellors dealing with a tsunami of grief

Last year, Victoria Hospice provided end-of-life care to more than 1,000 people

Paddles sit stacked and ready at a rowing regatta on Elk Lake in 2018. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria junior girls rowing team nabs first in national Row to Tokyo challenge

Young Victoria City Rowing Club members row more than 2,250 km

Habitat Acquisition Trust has received provincial funding to help restore Garry oak ecosystems on southern Vancouver Island. (Photo by Jeremy da Silva)
Funding boosts restoration efforts for Vancouver Island’s Garry oak ecosystems

Habitat Acquisition Trust will take on several Garry oak ecosystem restoration projects

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

The body of Brenda Ware, 35, was found along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park on Thursday, May 6, 2021. (RCMP handout)
RCMP ask for tips after woman’s body found in Kootenay National Park

Brenda Ware was found along Highway 93 in the park, 54 kilometres north of the town of Radium

People pass the red hearts on the COVID-19 Memorial Wall mourning those who have died, opposite the Houses of Parliament on the Embankment in London, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. On May 3, the British government announced that only one person had died of COVID-19 in the previous 24 hours. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Kirsty Wigglesworth
For a view of a COVID-19 future, Canadians should look across the pond

Britain, like Canada, is one of the only countries in the world to delay second doses for several months

Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Edmonton superstar McDavid hits 100-point mark as Oilers edge Canucks 4-3

NHL scoring leader needs just 53 games to reach century mark

Nuns of Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, carry some of her relics during a vigil of prayer in preparation for the canonization of Mother Teresa in the St. John in Latheran Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Sept. 2, 2016. In which city did she do much of her charitable work? (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
QUIZ: How much do you know about these motherhood issues?

In honour of Mother’s Day, take this 10-question quiz

A map showing where the most number of cases were recorded from April 23 to 29. This map, revealing a breakdown of infections by neighborhood, was pulled from a data package leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week (and independently verified).
36 Abbotsford schools flagged for COVID-19 exposures in the last 2 weeks, shattering record

Clearbrook Elementary recorded an ‘exposure’ on all 11 school days

Most Read