The B.C. NDP budget adds funding for construction of 1,700 rental units for low-income people. (Black Press files)

NDP funds 2,000 housing units for homeless

Extra 1,700 rental homes also in B.C. budget

Modular housing for homeless people and additional government-funded rental housing are among new spending initiatives in the B.C. NDP government’s first financial plan.

Finance Minister Carole James presented the budget update Monday, with $291 million over two years to build and operate 2,000 modular housing units for homeless people, with round-the-clock staffing and support services.

Another $208 million goes towards construction costs for 1,700 new rental housing units, to be targeted for lower-income families and seniors. Those units are in addition to previous B.C. programs, with buildings operated by non-profit societies and operation funded by rents.

James outlined B.C.’s continued strong economic performance, much of it driven by booming construction and taxes from increasing employment in urban areas. Even with $1.8 billion in additional ministry spending over the next three years, the budget forecasts surpluses of more than $200 million each year.

“Housing starts do not solve the affordability crisis that we’re facing,” James said, describing the new measures as a first step toward a comprehensive affordable housing and poverty plan.

B.C.’s Residential Tenancy Branch is getting $7 million more to reduce what James called “a crisis” in rent dispute backlogs that has increased as rental markets have tightened. The money funds 30 more positions for handling claims and investigating landlords and tenants who are “repeat offenders,” she said.

The budget also introduces the $100-a-month increase in social assistance rates, to take effect with assistance cheques that are delivered later this month. The cost is estimated at $472 million over three years to increase the rate for 190,000 people, bringing the monthly rate up to $710 for a single employable person and $1,133 per month for someone on disability assistance.

Allowable earnings for assistance recipients are also increased by $200, bringing the total to $600 a month earned without deduction.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Antique gun show a big hit in Chilliwack

The annual Historical Arms Antique Show has a huge variety of guns, knives, antiques and more

Gas prices spike in Lower Mainland

Two of B.C.’s major fuel suppliers are undergoing maintenance

Volunteers help with Gwynne Vaughan Park spring cleanup

Warm weather draws gardeners to Gwynne Vaughan Park for annual cleanup

Chilliwack Chiefs behind eight ball after game two loss to Prince George

The Chiefs were way better than they were in game one, but Prince George squeaked out a 3-2 win.

Pro-pipeline convoy rolls through Chilliwack

Hope for Canada was a convoy in support of the Canadian oil and gas industry and against Bill C-69

REPLAY: The best videos from across B.C. this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week in the province

Leivo nets shootout winner as Canucks edge Stars 3-2

Schaller scores first 2 goals of season for Vancouver

UBC study shows honey bees can help monitor pollution in cities

Scientists analyzed beehives in high density urban areas to those off on Galiano Island

B.C. man mourns the loss of classmate killed in New Zealand mosque attack

When he heard news of the attack, he sent a message to his friend

Ethiopia minister: ‘Clear similarities’ in Boeing crashes

Both the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder were sent to Paris for analysis

Most Read