Mayor Sam Sullivan today applauded provincial budget investments in social housing that will play a key role in helping Vancouver meet the Project Civil City target of reducing homelessness by more than 50% by 2010.
“This is the largest investment in social housing in recent history,” said Mayor Sullivan. “Clearly, the concerns I raised in Victoria related to homelessness and affordable housing have been heard and acted upon.”
The provincial budget announcement included funding for just over 1,000 shelter, transitional and permanent housing units for people suffering from mental illness, addictions or who are otherwise vulnerable. As an interim measure, an additional $27 million was provided to support 300 year-round shelter beds for the next three years.
“By increasing the monthly social assistance rates by $100 per month, the provincial government has made it more economically viable to keep privately run low-income housing units open,” said Mayor Sullivan. “This was a key recommendation from our Homeless Action Plan and it will serve to reduce the risk that low-income people may be forced onto the street.”
“I am confident a significant amount of this new funding will go toward the development of the 12 sites the City has purchased and has earmarked for social housing,” the Mayor added. “I will urge Council to move quickly to support the biggest investment in social housing in recent history.”
Over the past year the City has invested just under $100 million toward the development of 250 social housing units and additional affordable housing at Southeast False Creek. Council also invested $4.8 million in the purchase of the Pennsylvania Hotel which resulted in 44 more social housing units.
Recently, the City of Vancouver invested $2 million to purchase Helping Spirit Lodge, a 36-unit residential apartment building at Kingsway and Dumfries which will be converted into affordable housing units for Aboriginal persons at risk of homelessness, in partnership with BC Housing.
“There should also be a role for the private sector and individuals to assist with our homeless situation,” said Mayor Sullivan. “I am hopeful that the Dobell/Fairburn recommendations coming to Council in the coming weeks will provide even more options for the City to increase social housing investments.”
Highlights of Interest to the City of Vancouver
B.C. Budget 2007
Housing and Homelessness
- $250 million Housing Endowment Fund that will support different housing options including for those with addictions and mental illness.
- $27 million for 300 year-round shelter beds.
- $38 million for 600 beds in shelters, transitional housing and permanent housing.
- $50 million for up to 250 additional social housing units for people who are homeless (federally funded).
- $51 million for up to 200 new rental, supportive or transitional housing units for off-reserve Aboriginal households (federally funded).
- $45 million in funding to convert up to 750 social housing units to supportive housing.
- $6 million to provide 24/7 staffing for transition houses.
- $100 per month increase in social assistance for employable individuals.
Property Tax Relief
- An estimated 10,000 additional homeowners in Vancouver will now be eligible for tax relief through the homeowner grant.
Crime, Policing and Public Safety
- $12 million to complete the implementation of PRIME
- $12 million is allocated to transform the civil, family and criminal justice system. This will include funding for Vancouver’s new Community Court Pilot Project scheduled to open in January 2008.
- $189 million to strengthen communities through local infrastructure and transportation projects;
- $52.5 million available to municipalities to help local governments reduce traffic congestion in urban areas, reduce carbon dioxide and other emissions, and invest in public transit infrastructure.
- $2 million for the Green City Awards, highlighting achievements by local governments in greening their communities.
- $45 million in federal funding for hydrogen powered buses
- $18 million for air quality and climate change initiatives
- Tax relief provided to City of Vancouver for purchase of bio-diesel