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Building more middle-class homes in British Columbia

Press Release

February 20, 2024

The cost to build homes in Canada is too high, and the time it takes to finish projects is too long. To help solve these challenges, and to help build homes middle-class Canadians can afford, the federal government is partnering with the Province of British Columbia on the recently announced BC Builds initiative.

As announced last week, British Columbia’s BC Builds program will provide more than $2 billion in provincial financing and will commit $950 million to build thousands of middle-class rental homes on government, non-profit, community-owned, and underused land. The Province will partner with non-profits, local governments, First Nations, and homebuilders to identify available land and, using lower government borrowing rates, offer low-cost financing to build more homes.

Today, the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, alongside the Premier of British Columbia, David Eby, announced that the federal government will provide up to $2 billion in additional federal financing, increasing the impact of British Columbia’s BC Builds program.

Combined with the Province’s investment, the $2 billion in low-cost loans, available through the Apartment Construction Loan Program, will help build a minimum of 8,000 to 10,000 additional new homes for the middle class. As more land is secured, thousands more units will be built – fast‑tracking construction and ensuring that more of these homes are available at below-market rates.

The BC Builds program focuses on a few simple ideas:

  • Building on government, non-profit, community-owned, and underused land;
  • Streamlining the process to cut development approval timelines from 3-5 years to 12-18 months; and
  • Creating homes middle-class Canadians can afford with the aim that middle-income households are spending no more than approximately 30 per cent of their income on rent.

This historic contribution of federal financing to BC Builds will be the first of its kind in Canada. This will help create more housing that is affordable for working Canadians, bring down the cost of home-building, and ensure that middle-class households have affordable homes for their families.

BC Builds has identified 20 initial sites on government, First Nations, non-profit, and community-owned land throughout the province. With innovative programs like BC Builds, along with federal investments, we can help get more homes built for Canadians, faster and at prices they can afford. The Government of Canada will work with the Government of British Columbia over the coming months to ensure that we get the best outcomes possible for British Columbians.
Quotes

“Canada needs more homes that the middle class can afford. That’s what today’s announcement with British Columbia is all about. Our investment, through the BC Builds program, will use public land to create more affordable housing, bring down the cost of construction, and ensure that we build more homes, faster so that Canadians – from teachers, to nurses, to construction workers – can afford to stay in the communities where they work.”

The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada

“All levels of government need to work together to solve the housing crisis. With the federal government’s contribution and partnership on BC Builds, we can create even more lower-cost, middle-income homes through the program. That’s good news for our economy and for our future, but most importantly it’s good news for British Columbians looking for a decent place to live.”

The Hon. David Eby, Premier of British Columbia

“British Columbia’s BC Builds initiative is exactly the type of ambitious and innovative program we’re ready to support. It will help build more homes for the middle class, faster and at prices they can afford.”

The Hon. Sean Fraser, Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities

“Teachers, nurses, construction workers, and other middle-income people need more housing options in B.C., and with several BC Builds sites identified and dozens of interested partners, we are well on our way to getting the additional housing they need built. We are in a housing crisis that requires support from all levels of government. BC Builds will ensure that middle-income housing will get built, faster and more in line with what households earn.”

The Hon. Ravi Kahlon, British Columbia’s Minister of Housing and Government House Leader

Quick Facts

  • The funding for a partnership with British Columbia would come from the $15 billion announced by the federal government in its 2023 Fall Economic Statement, where it committed to creating 30,000 more purpose-built rental housing units through the Apartment Construction Loan Program (ACLP). The Fall Economic Statement also outlined the federal government’s commitment to leverage this funding to encourage provinces and territories to develop ambitious housing plans that serve the needs of Canadians and the communities they live in.
  • BC Builds is part of the Government of British Columbia’s $19 billion housing investment. Since 2017, the province has delivered nearly 78,000 homes across British Columbia. BC Builds program details include:
    • All BC Builds units will aim to accommodate middle-income households, ensuring that they spend no more than approximately 30 per cent of their income on rent;
    • The rent for BC Builds homes will not exceed the local market rates, and in many cases, will be lower;
    • All households living in BC Builds homes will undergo income testing upon move-in;
    • BC Builds will take a community-based approach, recognizing that “middle-income” varies by community; and
    • BC Builds projects aim to deliver more two-, three- and four-bedroom homes, at below-market rents.
  • Totalling over $40 billion in funding, the ACLP spurs the construction of rental housing by providing fully repayable, low-interest loans to builders and developers. The program focuses on communities where there is a need for additional rental housing supply, and it also encourages housing that is energy-efficient, accessible, and makes more efficient use of urban space. Since 2017, the ACLP has committed over $17 billion in loans to support more than 46,000 new rental homes across the country.
  • The ACLP is part of Canada’s National Housing Strategy (NHS). Launched in 2017, the NHS is a 10-year, $82+ billion plan to give more people in Canada a place to call home. It includes a range of complementary programs and initiatives that address diverse needs across the entire housing continuum. Progress on programs and initiatives is updated quarterly at www.placetocallhome.ca. The Housing Funding Initiatives Map shows the variety of housing projects that have received funding commitments.
  • The NHS also includes the Housing Accelerator Fund, a $4 billion initiative designed to help cities, towns, and Indigenous governments unlock new housing supply. To date, the federal government has signed 49 Housing Accelerator Fund agreements to fast-track an estimated total of over 600,000 housing units over the next decade.
  • Since the creation of the NHS, the Government of Canada has committed over $38 billion to support the creation of almost 152,000 units and the repair of over 241,000, and provided affordability support for close to 500,000 households. The NHS prioritizes those in greatest need, including seniors, Indigenous Peoples, people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, and women and children fleeing violence.

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