Editorial: Affordable housing is no longer affordable

What is affordable housing?

If the term even still applies – and that’s debatable – it certainly means something other to most than what it means to the government.

This week, Premier John Horgan was in Courtenay to announce a new “mid-income affordable housing” project.

RELATED: Horgan announces new rental project for Courtenay

The announcement laid out a project in the Crown Isle area, being built through BC Housing’s HousingHub, which was created by the Province in 2018, to help create new affordable rental housing and homeownership options for middle-income British Columbians.

The new rental homes are designed to be “affordable for households with annual incomes ranging between $48,000 and $74,000, with rental costs at 30 per cent or lower of household income.”

Sounds great, until you hear what the rents are. Monthly rents will range from approximately $1,200 for a studio, to $1,650 for a two-bedroom and $1,850 for a large two-bedroom rental.

First, the idea that the government considers a household income of $48,000-$74,000 as “middle-income” is laughable.

According to the 2018 Vital Signs report, the median household income in the Comox Valley, in 2015, was $76,510.

Considering that statistic increased by 10 per cent from 2012 to 2015, it’s reasonable to assume that the median income in the Comox Valley in 2020 is at least $80,000.

By definition, the median is the exact middle, which begs the question: what formula is the B.C. government using to determine “mid-income?”

More importantly, how can paying $1,850 for a two-bedroom apartment be considered “affordable housing?”

It can’t. And it certainly isn’t affordable, at least not to those in the earning bracket being targeted.

Here’s the problem.

Someone, somewhere, 40 years ago, determined that affordable housing means paying no more than 30 per cent of your income on housing-related expenses. That might have been accurate in 1980, but the cost of living has climbed exponentially faster than the income level in the past 40 years.

The solution would be to get rid of the antiquated formula that is no longer relevant, and replace it.

The rate being charged for affordable housing should be based on net income. A family making $70,000 per year is not bringing home any more than $50,000 (and that’s being generous). Yet, under an “affordable housing” calculation, a landlord can charge up to 30 per cent of $70,000, which works out to $1,750 per month. That’s $21,000 per year – 42 per cent of that family’s take-home pay.

That is not affordable, or sustainable. Is it any wonder there’s a housing crisis?

affordable housingEditorials

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Comox to Texada ferry run suspended for now as pandemic precaution

BC Ferries not making schedule changes of regular Comox-Powell River route

Comox Valley centre offering free online meditation and mindfulness teachings

The Comox Valley has a well-kept secret in the Sherab Chamma Tibetan… Continue reading

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

Comox Valley Farmers’ Market set for online shopping

An online store will complement the market and is set to start taking orders soon.

Comox Valley Food Bank set to reopen

The organization closed last week due to concerns around COVID-19

Comox Valley grocers going extra mile during coronavirus

We have had numerous requests to post a fluid article directing consumers… Continue reading

Evening world update: U.S. restrictions extended 30 days; NY deaths near 1,000

Comprehensive world update, with the latest developments in the COVID-19 crisis

‘It’s up to us: Recently-returned B.C. couple urges Canadians to take COVID-19 seriously

Garrett Kucher and Tory Apostoliuk make it home after almost a week of lockdown in Spain

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

Speed, alcohol not ruled out as factors in crash that left one person dead

Police watchdog, Campbell River Major Crimes Unit are investigating

Canada will make sure masks sent by China meet quality standards: Trudeau

Chinese Embassy tweeted that China was sending 30,000 medical masks along with gowns, gloves and goggles

Cumberland has new waste collection service

Emterra begins new collection service as of March 30

B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Hand sanitizer and markers to keep lines two metres are apart are needed, province says

Most Read