A man sleeps at vacant commercial property in downtown Victoria. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

More housing, subsidies urged for B.C. poverty reduction plan

Survey respondents want family options, and ‘not just in the ‘hood’

From designated campsites to shipping containers and railcars converted into homes, to a blanket policy of “universal basic housing,” the B.C. government got an earful in its submissions for an anti-poverty strategy.

“Affordable, safe, clean housing is a paramount need,” said one of thousands of submissions to the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction’s call for input, released Thursday.

“Affordable housing should be in all areas, not just in the ‘hood.”

Other suggestions included “better protect renters from rent-related or renovation evictions,” and “look at the social structure” that leads to wealthy people owning rental properties.” A “landlord tax” and “mansion tax,” are also suggested, as were “squatters’ rights” and “seizing property that’s being under-utilized,” including commercial lawns and parking lots.

Most of the thousands of submissions were housing related. Among the few that didn’t call directly for housing subsidies was “separate families from drug users.”

RELATED COMMENTARY: B.C. already has a poverty plan

Social Development Minister Shane Simpson says the input will be considered and legislation will be introduced this fall to begin shaping the B.C. NDP government’s long-promised poverty reduction plan.

The legislation will include timelines and annual targets for reducing poverty, Simpson said in an interview. Next February’s budget will contain the spending measures the plan will require.

A lack of accessible housing was the dominant issue across the province, not just in the urban southwest, he said.

“We went into 27 communities, and I think it was the leading issue in 27 of them,” Simpson said. “It was about safe, secure, affordable rental, because generally the people we were talking to were obviously not contemplating purchases at this point. People were talking about $1,300, $1,400 a month to rent an apartment in Prince Rupert.”

Other issues prominent in the consultation tour were the availability of well-paying jobs and dealing with mental illness and addictions, he said.


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