BC Housing CEO: Government can't spend its way out of housing crunch
Published April 23, 2019
The CEO of BC Housing has thrown a kink into a widely shared belief that government-funded solutions to the province's housing dilemma are the primary way to overcome low apartment vacancy rates and rising rental costs.
As reported by Business In Vancouver
, BC Housing CEO Shayne Ramsay – speaking to CBRE Ltd.’s executive vice-president Norm Taylor at a Vancouver real-estate symposium – said that private sector investment is the only means by which housing supply can satisfy demand.
“Government can’t spend its way to create the rental housing that’s needed. It’s really the private-sector development that’s going to be needed,” Ramsay said while highlighting that 6% to 8% of homes in the province are social housing that falls within the primary purview of BC Housing.
Ramsay's poignant take on the housing industry comes as his organization's recent south Island investments have delivered hundreds of below-market rental homes with many more in the pipeline.
They're also noteworthy in light of the City of Victoria's pursuit of its own social housing-focused real-estate development division positioned by a councillor as a rapid-fire solution to a housing dilemma facing the city centre.
Councillor Ben Isitt – who recently stated that he’d like to see his government “aggressively” pursue the construction of affordable housing and act as the municipality’s “main developer" of affordable homes – has openly criticized real-estate developers for creating a “negative consequence in terms of affordability and inclusivity.” Isitt hopes to undo what he perceives as that negative consequence through a three or four year sustained development push at the hands of the City.
Several councillors would also like to see city hall impose below-market housing requirements totalling 30% of units in stratified properties (such as condominiums), a move municipal staff warn could derail private development in the city-proper by imposing what is seen by the industry as an obstacle to securing financing.
Views held by Isitt and his supporters at the council table emerged despite private investment having funded the construction of thousands of south Island rental homes in recent years following decades of provincial and federal funding gaps that, in addition to municipal red tape, led to a near-drought of purpose-built apartment construction in the Capital Region since the late 1970's.
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