VANCOUVER (September 13, 2019) – Despite their sweeping promises to improve affordability, after two years in power John Horgan and the NDP have done little to make life more affordable for British Columbians who rent.
“John Horgan promised British Columbians that he would make housing more affordable for renters and after two years he simply hasn’t,” says Sam Sullivan, Vancouver-False Creek MLA and Housing Critic. “Rents will continue to climb until we prioritize building a greater choice of homes for people’s housing needs.”
In April, the City of Vancouver revealed that it had missed its two-year target for approving purpose-built rental housing by almost half. There is plenty of evidence showing that building more homes improves affordability. Across the border, Seattle has focused on policies to increase home choice—including zoning for increased density—and is now experiencing a boom in rental housing projects. The vacancy rate in that city has increased to 10 per cent, providing prospective tenants with greater choice and increased mobility in the housing market. In many cases, landlords are offering renters incentives, including free rent for the first month of tenancy.
“The City of Vancouver still has a vacancy rate under one per cent, making it incredibly difficult for renters to find affordable housing,” says Todd Stone, Kamloops-South Thompson MLA and Municipal Affairs Critic. “As John Horgan and his government continue to do nothing to promote the development of new units, vacancy rates won’t improve quickly enough to deliver real affordability. Helping renters means letting home builders get to work across B.C., instead of slamming them with tax after tax.”
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation reported that the average length of rental housing construction was up to 17.6 months in Vancouver during the second quarter of 2019, an increase of almost four months over the same quarter last year. This comes in addition to the time it takes to finance, plan, and receive approval for a project.
In recent months, the Housing Minister has mocked the importance of increasing the choice of homes available to people on the free market.
“Rather than stepping up with initiatives focused on encouraging more housing supply, John Horgan and the NDP have piled on 19 new and increased taxes and imposed a range of measures that are suppressing demand and reducing supply. All of this will inevitably lead to an increase in housing prices and rents,” concludes Stone. “John Horgan and the NDP want people to think that they understand the affordability challenges facing British Columbians, but it is becoming increasingly clear that this government has no interest in looking out for them or the state of their wallets.”
To date, the NDP has still failed to deliver on its promise of a $400 renters’ rebate.