Use these best practices to help your community maintain plenty of affordable housing options.
Tackling the challenge of housing affordability requires many partners working together – here are some examples.
Provincial: Through the Community Partnership Initiatives Program, BC Housing partners with communities, housing providers and other stakeholders to implement innovative strategies that create more affordable housing options for residents who need it most. Financing options, advice and referrals to partnership opportunities are some supports available to affordable housing projects and organizations.
Small Community: The Chiyakmesh Building in Whistler contains 40 studio apartments and 15 one-bedroom apartments – some are wheelchair accessible. The project was funded by the provincial government (about $4 million in long-term financing), the Resort Municipality of Whistler ($1 million) and the Whistler Housing Authority ($2.2 million).
Large Community: The City of Richmond officially opened 296 new affordable rental apartments for seniors living on low incomes. The Kiwanis Towers more than double the number of affordable units originally on the site. Here are a few contribution details:
- Proposal Development Funding of $100,000 from the Government of Canada through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
- Approximately $19.7 million in construction financing and up to $16.3 million in long-term financing from the provincial government
- Up to $20.8 million over five years from current and future allocations to the City’s Affordable Housing Reserve
- Approximately $3.3 million from the City to cover development cost charges, service cost charges and municipal permit fees
- Approximately $21 million from the Richmond Kiwanis Senior Citizens Housing Society (proceeds from selling land to the developer for the adjoining market housing site)
- The City will assist with planning to address operations and tenant wellness and management programming
Large Community: Loreen Place is a 52-unit residential rental building in Victoria that offers homes for small families with low to modest incomes. The building is jointly owned by the Greater Victoria Housing Society and the Greater Victoria Rental Development Society. Total cost of the project was $10.4 million:
- The Government of Canada provided a SEED funding grant and Proposal Development Funding of almost $90,000 through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
- The provincial government provided long-term financing of $9.6 million
- The City of Victoria and the Capital Regional District’s Regional Housing Trust Fund each provided $370,000
Gain Community Support
Sometimes residents are concerned that affordable housing options (like social housing or lower-priced rentals) will negatively affect the character of a neighbourhood and reduce property values. This kind of resistance is called NIMBY ('Not In My Backyard').
- NIMBY Toolkit (PDF, 1.1MB): Gain community support for developing non-market or lower-end, affordable market housing options. The goal is to help communities shift from NIMBY to YIMBY or Yes-In-My-Backyard.
- Housing in my Backyard: A Municipal Guide for Responding to NIMBY (PDF): Find best practices for getting community acceptance of housing developments including residential intensification, secondary suites and social housing. The guide was an outcome of the Affordability and Choice Today Program.
Decide if Public Hearings are Needed
When appropriate, waiving public hearings can help remove the potential for confrontational discussions, streamline the policy process and enable housing developments to proceed more smoothly.
There following criteria must be met for a public hearing to be waived:
- An official community plan must be in place
- The proposed bylaw must be consistent with the official community plan
- A public hearing waiver notice must be published before the bylaw is adopted
Official Community Plans: The more detailed an official community plan is about housing policies (especially social or special-needs housing), the less likely a zoning amendment for a housing development will take the public by surprise. Local governments can feel more comfortable waiving a public hearing if the official community plan provides information about the potential for different types of zoning at specific locations. It's important to consider:
- What's the relationship between the official community plan and the zoning change?
- Was there enough community input into the official community plan on this subject?
Get more information on what the Local Government Act says about holding public hearings:
Establish Housing Organizations
Housing groups, organizations and agencies help focus efforts for enhancing housing affordability. Each group is structured according to the unique needs of the community it supports.
"A housing organization is a non-profit entity dedicated to providing and managing non-market housing stock that is for rent or purchase by qualified individuals and families. It can be the repository for affordable housing units created through density bonus, inclusionary zoning and a housing fund, and also monitor affordable housing needs in a community. A housing organization can serve one or more municipalities, or a region. It can be controlled by a local government, or be an independent non-profit society, cooperative or corporation." – SmartGrowthBC affordable housing toolkit
Local Government Example: The Capital Region Housing Corporation in Victoria is a non-profit provider of over 1200 subsidized apartments and townhouses for families with low to moderate incomes, seniors with low to moderate incomes and persons on disability. Some non-subsidized units are also available and rent for about 90-95% of similar units available in private sector market housing.
Use Resale Price Restrictions
Limiting the resale price of housing to a price lower than market value helps make housing more affordable. These restrictions:
- Must be a registered covenant on title before the initial sale (e.g. during development)
- Can be applied to any housing delivered by local governments, housing organizations or developers
Buyers are selected from pre-qualified individuals and families who meet specific criteria (e.g. must be local residents with income below a specified level and the unit will be their primary residence). They must agree to sell their home according to the reduced price model. The resale price is calculated at the time of sale – either by a resale price formula or or percentage below market value (market value is determined by appraisal).
Some local governments or housing organizations facilitate the purchase and sale of all units in the price-restricted pool of housing.
Local Government Example: The goal of the Whistler Housing Authority is to house at least 75% of employees locally through an inventory of resident-restricted housing. Both rental and ownership accommodation are available and affordable for local income earners and retirees in perpetuity.