An expert from UBC says our province simply isn’t doing enough to support people who need social housing.
The university’s School of Community and Regional Planning Director Penny Gurstein says the B.C. government is too focused on getting homeless people off the street when there are other housing areas that need attention as well.
“When you look at waitlists for B.C. housing, you see that there’s a huge demand for some kind of government assisted housing, and it’s just not there,” she says.
Gurstein is heading up a new study that shows public housing across Canada has fallen by five percent over two decades – from 640,778 units in 1990 to 607,038 in 2011.
Currently, provincial governments are solely responsible for providing funding for public housing, and she says if we want things to get better in B.C., it needs to start on a federal level.
“If there was a national housing strategy, then we could actually see that some of our tax dollars are going towards supporting housing programs,” she adds. “The only kind of housing policies the federal government has is around supporting homeownership – but with half of Vancouverites renting, it’s difficult to save up to buy a home.”
“If it’s not seen as a priority federally, it won’t be seen as a priority provincially.”