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Province snaps up social housing; private investment still strong

By Peter Mitham for Business in Vancouver

The province’s $12.5 million purchase of the Jubilee Rooms at 235 Main Street in June and the more recent purchase of Woodwynn Farms in Saanich are a change of course from before last year’s provincial election.

BC Housing was shedding assets at the time, though communications staff attached to the province’s housing minister, Rich Coleman, at the time couldn’t provide data on how many properties BC Housing had shed. However, staff did tout a commitment of $920 million to build and renovate approximately 5,300 units of affordable rental housing across B.C.

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But in a turnaround during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2018, BC Housing bought 1,019 housing units across the province, up from 462 in the previous year. It was unable to disclose a purchase price last week.

The acquisitions rival the spree that took place a decade ago. Having cancelled hundreds of social housing units after winning the 2001 election, the BC Liberals launched a major housing initiative, Housing Matters BC, in fall 2006. The initiative came as housing prices skyrocketed and housing affordability disappeared.

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