Housing Needs Reports
Municipalities and regional districts in B.C. are required to complete housing needs reports by April 2022 and every five years thereafter. These reports will help local governments and the B.C. government better understand and respond to housing needs in communities throughout B.C.
An Overview of Housing Need Reports
Legislative requirements took effect April 16, 2019 and require local governments to collect data, analyze trends and present reports that describe current and anticipated housing needs in B.C. communities. A three-year funding program, administered by the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM), along with data and guidance provided by the B.C. government, will support communities to meet the new requirements.
Housing needs reports are a way for communities to better understand their current and future housing needs. These reports can help identify existing and projected gaps in housing supply by collecting and analyzing quantitative and qualitative information about local demographics, economics, housing stock, and other factors. A housing needs report is critical to developing a housing strategy or action plan.
Together, legislation and regulations specify requirements for local government related to housing needs reports. These requirements include:
- Collecting information to identify current and projected housing needs,
- Using that information to prepare and publish an online housing needs report which shows current and projected housing needs for at least the next five years, and
- Considering the most recently collected information and housing needs report when amending official community plans and regional growth strategies
Detailed data collection, report content, and public reporting requirements are summarized in the Summary of Legislative and Regulatory Requirements for Housing Needs Reports (PDF).
Information Collection Requirements
To help determine current and projected housing needs, local governments are required to collect approximately 50 distinct kinds of data about:
- Current and projected population
- Household income
- Significant economic sectors
- Currently available and anticipated housing units
Regional districts are required to collect this information for each electoral area.
The B.C. government is providing nearly all the required data free of charge.
Report Content Requirements
All housing needs reports are required to contain the following, based on an analysis of the information collected:
- Statements about key areas of local need, including affordable housing, rental housing, special needs housing, seniors housing, family housing, and shelters and housing for people at risk of homelessness
- The number of housing units required to meet current and anticipated housing needs for at least the next five years, by housing type. Housing ‘type’ is defined as dwelling size (number of bedrooms)
- The number and percentage of households in core housing need and extreme core housing need
Regional districts must include this required content for each electoral area.
Local governments must also complete and include in the housing needs report a standardized form that summarizes key pieces of data collected, consultation undertaken and key findings from each local government on their housing needs. The form also provides space for local governments to identify other housing issues or needs that are not captured elsewhere. The intent of the form is to provide an easily-comparable snapshot of housing needs in each jurisdiction.
Public Reporting Requirements
When a housing needs report is complete, a local government is required to
- Receive the report at a council or board meeting that is open to the public, and
- Publish the report on an internet site that is publicly and freely accessible
Public reporting means that the public, First Nations, and stakeholders such as non-profit organizations, private developers, and other government agencies will have access to better information when making housing investment decisions.
Relationship to Official Community Plans & Regional Growth Strategies
A local government is required to consider its most recent housing needs report, and the housing information on which it is based, when
- Developing an official community plan or regional growth strategy,
- Amending an official community plan in relation to housing statements, map designations or policies,
- Amending a regional growth strategy in relation to proposed housing actions, and
- Considering every five years whether a regional growth strategy must be reviewed
This will ensure that any updates to an official community plan or regional growth strategy are informed by the latest available housing needs information.
Data for Housing Needs Reports
The B.C. government provides nearly all the data that local governments are required to collect, free of charge, and packaged on a community basis. This data includes:
- BC Assessment data on assessed values and sales prices of housing
- BC Housing data on non-market housing and new homes registered
- BC Stats data on projected population and household demographics from 2018 to 2028
- Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) data on primary rental market prices, primary rental vacancy rates and some secondary rental market data
- Statistics Canada Census data on population and household demographics, labour force, household income, housing units and core housing need
This data can be supplemented by other sources, including local government data, community surveys and public engagement, as a basis for informing a housing needs report.
Jointly Prepared Housing Needs Reports
Partnerships between two or more local governments to undertake this work could offer potential benefits and efficiencies. A regional district could also consider coordinating the collection and reporting of housing needs information on behalf of their members, as long as required community-specific information and reporting is provided for each individual electoral area and participating municipality.
Housing Needs Reports Started Before April 2019
Local governments that were already working on or that have completed a housing needs report before April 2019, may be considered to have met the legislated requirement for the first report. Please contact us about whether these transitional provisions apply.
The requirements related to housing needs reports are detailed in legislation and associated regulations:
Local Government Act
- Section 429 (2.1) – Content of regional growth strategy
- Section 473 (2.1) – Official community plan content and process requirements
- Part 14, Division 22 – Housing needs reports
- Housing Needs Report Regulation (OIC, Order-in-Council 205)