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

City unveils plan for new Landing park

Park to be located along several properties on Lakeshore Road

Registration opens for Okanagan Singer-Songwriter competition

Lake Country - The seventh annual competition auditions are held around the Okanagan

City gives third reading to marijuana dispensary bylaw

Public hearing in Vernon draws more than 70 people

UPDATE: Tsunami warning cancelled for coastal British Columbia

Warning issued following 7.9 earthquake off Kodiak, AK

Vernon Search & Rescue find lost snowmobiler

Male, 19, went missing in Hunter’s Range area near Enderby

Testing the Google Arts & Culture app

Going face to face with art

Okanagan Rawsome nominated for Best Small Business BC award

When Afke Zonderland set out to fill what she saw as “a… Continue reading

Bell Canada alerts customers who may be affected by latest data breach

Federal Office of the Privacy Commissioner said it had been notified

SilverStar ski legend marks milestone

Like SilverStar itself, Brian James is still going strong after six decades in the ski industry

Coldstream modular home debate still unresolved

Spraggs still waiting for an answer

‘The tsunami alarm failed my household’: North Coast residents concerned over sirens, alerts

People living in northern communities share how they learned about Tuesday’s tsunami warning

Flying squirrel touches down inside Salmon Arm home

Rodent jumps around residence before homeowers encourage it back outdoors

Snowboarder dies at Vancouver Island ski resort

Death at Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Vernon group shares love of music, ukuleles

Ukuleles for Fun hosts its homecoming reunion in celebration of its ninth anniversary Jan. 28

Most Read