B.C. rental plan needs buy-in to deliver 2,900 low-cost apartments

$500 million in funding may cover only half the cost

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The B.C. government will need support from community groups, the private sector and other levels of government if it is to deliver on a promise to create nearly 3,000 low-cost rentals, research shows.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong explained that an extra billion dollars in real estate taxes, much of it traced to a new 15% foreign-buyer tax in Metro Vancouver, helped to boost revenue, allowing some of that money to be used for social housing.

The government said the cash infusion is the largest single housing investment in a single year by any province in Canada.

The money will fund a mix of housing for low-to moderate-income earners, seniors, students, those with developmental disabilities, aboriginals and single parents

The new provincial plan, confirmed in late November, commits $500 million to deliver 2,900 units of “affordable” rental housing. That spending works out to approximately $172,000 per apartment, far below the cost of constructing recent units of social housing.

The average cost-per-suite of the last four assisted rental projects in B.C. was $314,637.

These include the Centrepoint project in Squamish where it cost $393,750 to deliver 32 units of low-cost rentals; and the M’akola Housing Society project in Langford, where 36 rental units cost an average of $325,000.

Both of these projects had broad support from the community, local governments and the federal government.

A spokeswoman for B.C. Housing said the provincial money is meant “specifically for construction and renovation costs. Depending on the project, other partners may provide other funding.”

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