VANCOUVER– Housing Minister Rich Coleman’s dismissal of new report on the state of social housing shows that he is out of touch with British Columbian families that are facing the housing crisis, say the New Democrats.
“Minister Coleman’s dismissal shows that he doesn’t care about housing pressures facing average families,” said New Democrat housing critic Shane Simpson .
This week, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a report, entitled “Unpacking the Housing Numbers.” The report outlines the government’s dismal record on social housing, contradicting the Minister’s overly cheery rhetoric.
Coleman dismissed the issues raised, stating that other programs make up for housing shortfalls in this province.
“While the government has taken some steps to address homelessness, they have done less than nothing when it comes to supporting families with new units. This latest report shows a net loss of over 2,800 independent social housing units in B.C. over the past five years,” Simpson said.
“For Minister Coleman to turn a blind eye to this report just highlights the failure of the Minister to take the needs of B.C. families seriously,” Simpson said.
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s analysis of core housing needs in B.C. shows that over 133,000 households face serious problems with housing availability and affordability. This includes 60,000 families.
“Addressing the lack of affordable and secure housing is a critical piece in ending the high level of child poverty in our province,” Simpson said. “Yet Rich Coleman and the B.C. Liberals are ignoring that problem. In fact they are tearing units down like at Little Mountain or converting them to other uses. Studies are clearly showing that this is the wrong direction.”
The report shows a net gain of about 280 units over the past five years in B.C. This compares to an average of 1,000 – 1,500 units annually between the mid 1970’s – early 1990’s. While a number of provinces are joining with advocates and academics to call for a new national housing strategy, the B.C. government has been silent.
“Sadly, the B.C. Liberals have been silent in calling on the federal government to address the housing problems in this province and across Canada. I suspect it has to do with an ideological opposition to government involvement in housing issues. If so, it’s shameful. If the B.C. Liberals actually want to help deal with the record levels of poverty in our province, they wouldn’t ignore reports like this. They would take action,” Simpson said.