Where's the Housing in the Housing Budget?

The BC government called their recently announced 2007 Budget the housing budget but many critics including the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives are asking where's the housing? Some highlights and critiques of the budget:

  • $1.5 million dollar tax cut.
    The government claims the tax cut will make it easier for everyone to pay for their housing but critics say the tax cut will not really have much effect on low and middle income earners, and it has nothing do with housing. People could easily spend their money on child care, utilities or transportation.
  • $250 million housing endowment fund to support innovative housing projects.
    According to the CCPA, this means the province is going to take $250 million out of the 2006/07 surplus to fund $10 million of new initiatives per year, although it is not at all clear that any of this money will fund new social housing.
  • Expansion of the Rental Assistance Program to help families earning under $28,000.
    According to the Co-op Housing Federation of BC, this type of housing allowance works well in rental markets with a healthy vacancy rate. But in Vancouver the vacancy rate is under 0.7%, making it difficult to ensure that the allowances won't simply be cancelled out by higher rents.
  • A 30% increase in the number of year-round shelter beds.
    More shelter beds are needed in the province, but shelters are not homes and critics say they do not actually solve homelessness.
  • Converting 750 existing social housing units to supportive housing for seniors.
    Instead of creating new affordable housing this will actually reduce the number of units available.
  • $50 dollar increase in the shelter allowance for people on income assistance.
    This increases the allowable shelter allowance for employable singles to $375. Unfortunately this is still way below the average rent across the province.
  • Money for staffing transition houses on a 24-hour basis.