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How much governments spend on social housing

The Beth Tikvah Congregation sold half of its property to Richmond about 10 years ago. The city spent close to…

By Lena Smirnova , in Business , on November 25, 2010 Tags: , , , ,

The Beth Tikvah Congregation sold half of its property to Richmond about 10 years ago. The city spent close to $1 million to build affordable housing on the property, with the B.C. government reimbursing three-quarters of the cost.

The Anglican Diocese of New Westminster sponsors low-cost Abbeyfield houses for seniors."

The city can’t afford to invest in affordable housing anymore because the federal and provincial governments reduced their funding for such projects, said Terry Crowe, Richmond’s policy planning manager.

Provincial funding for independent social housing has grown over the past years, according to the B.C. Housing annual reports. The government contributed:

  • 2009-2010: $240.7 million
  • 2008-2009: $279.7 million
  • 2007-2008: $271.9 million
  • 2006-2007: $244 million
  • 2005-2006: $218.8 million

But these numbers may be misleading.

British Columbia lost 2,820 social housing units since 2006, according to a Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives study from September 2010. The study estimates that the net increase for social housing over the past five years was only 280 units.

Federal funding for social housing plummeted in the late 1980s as the government put more responsibility on the provinces and municipalities, according to the Canadian Policy Research Networks discussion paper. The provinces responded by cutting their own spending on social housing.

A national housing strategy may be put in place if Bill C-304 passes its third reading in Parliament. NDP MP Libby Davies introduced the private member’s bill in February 2009.

The bill, which calls for increased federal funding for affordable housing, passed the second vote with support from the NDP, Liberals and the Bloc. The date for the final vote has not been set.

Related: Richmond churches resist “draconian” property plan