SQUAMISH - The Province is partnering with a developer in Squamish to build 40 new rental apartments to help address the need for more rental housing for middle-income families in the community.
The new homes are part of the Province's HousingHub initiative to proactively bring together and partner with all levels of government, landowners and a range of for- and not-for-profit groups to increase people's rental and homeownership options.
"Years of inaction on housing supply and escalating costs have left too many people, even those with middle incomes, unable to find an affordable place to live," said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. "Through the HousingHub, we are building new partnerships throughout the province to create the right types of homes that people need to stay in their community and build a future."
The HousingHub is working with WestUrban Developments Ltd. to build 40 market rental homes at Northyard, located at 39666 Government Rd. The four-storey building will provide new homes designed for households with annual incomes ranging between $54,000 and $92,000. Construction is underway, with the new homes expected to be complete in spring 2020.
"We are very excited to partner with BC Housing through the HousingHub to help address the rental demand needs in Squamish," said Sean Roy, CEO, WestUrban Developments Ltd. "This mixed-use development provides a fantastic opportunity for residents to enjoy high-quality residential amenities, combined with the ease of access to retail and office spaces within the same building. We are thrilled to break ground with BC Housing on our first project together and will be partnering on future developments to increase the rental housing supply across British Columbia."
The project will add much-needed rental supply to a community facing extremely low-vacancy rates. Guided by the standard that affordable housing means people spend no more than 30% of their income, these rents are designed to be affordable for people in this middle-income range.
"We are very excited about this project that provides affordable rental housing options for middle-income families," said Karen Elliott, mayor, District of Squamish. "Affordability has varying levels of interpretation, and what may be considered affordable for one resident may be unattainable for another. The District of Squamish remains committed to increasing the number of affordable housing options for residents across the income spectrum, which will be possible through progressive policy and developing creative solutions in collaboration with our community partners, developers and the Province. We commend HousingHub and WestUrban Developments Ltd. for making this project possible in Squamish."
The HousingHub is a division within BC Housing established in 2018 as part of B.C.'s 10-year housing plan to seek innovative partnerships with local governments, non-profit and co- operative housing organizations, community land trusts, Indigenous groups, faith-based groups, charities, financial institutions and other industries to create affordable rental housing and homeownership options for middle-income British Columbians.
The HousingHub acts as a centre for housing expertise and collaboration, helping create housing either through new construction or through the redevelopment of existing sites.
The first HousingHub projects, announced in April 2018, involved a partnership with the B.C. Conference of the United Church of Canada. Work on additional HousingHub projects around the province is underway and further projects will be announced in the coming months.
- The Province, through the HousingHub, is providing interim construction financing of approximately $14 million for the project in Squamish.
- The approximate rents for the project will be:
- studio: $1,350/month
- one bedroom: $1,800/month
- two bedroom: $2,300/month
- Through the Building BC: Community Housing Fund, the Province is also investing approximately $7.6 million to build 76 affordable rental homes for individuals and families in Squamish.
To find out what the Province is doing to improve housing affordability, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/factsheets/bc-government-addressing-housing-affordability-challenges
Read Homes for B.C., government's 10-year housing plan to address housing affordability for British Columbians: bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2018/homesbc/2018_Homes_For_BC.pdf
A backgrounder follows.
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Province building new homes to meet the full spectrum of housing needs
The B.C. government is working in partnership to build affordable homes that cover the full spectrum of housing needs for British Columbians.
Thousands of homes are being created for a range of people that are struggling to find a place to live, from people who are experiencing homelessness and seniors on fixed incomes, to middle-income families and individuals. This includes:
- Low-income or shelter-rate housing, where residents are charged a monthly rate of $375, which is the social assistance shelter allowance provided by the Province. Homes at this rental rate are being built through the Rapid Response to Homelessness program and the Supportive Housing Fund. In addition, 20% of homes in buildings built under the Community Housing Fund are rented at this rate, or at rent geared to income (set at 30% of income), for households earning up to $30,000, depending on unit size.
- Affordable rental housing for people with low to moderate incomes, including seniors, people with disabilities and families. Residents pay rent geared to income, which means they pay approximately 30% of their gross household income. These are sometimes referred to as household income limit rates. Housing income limits represent the income needed to pay the average market rent in a specific community and varies depending on the unit size. For example, this would be approximately $58,000 for a two-bedroom unit in Vancouver and approximately $37,000 for a two-bedroom unit in Smithers. Homes at this rental rate are being built through the Indigenous Housing Fund and include some rental buildings in the Women's Transition Housing Fund. As well, 50% of homes in buildings built through the Community Housing Fund are rented at this rate.
- Below-market and market-rate rental housing are for people with moderate to middle incomes, where units are rented at or below market rates. These homes are intended to increase the supply of rental housing for households with annual incomes between
$50,000 and $150,000, depending on the community. Homes at this rental rate are being built through the HousingHub, which leverages low-cost financing and partnerships with land owners, private and non-profit developers, local governments and First Nations to provide housing with no public subsidy required. As well, 30% of homes in buildings built through the Community Housing Fund are rented at this rate for households earning up to $71,200 for homes with less than two bedrooms, or up to $104,000 for homes with two or more bedrooms.
Homeownership units for households with middle incomes: the HousingHub is working, through innovative partnerships, to create homeownership options for individuals and families throughout the province.
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing