The B.C. NDP budget adds funding for construction of 1,700 rental units for low-income people. (Black Press files)

NDP funds 2,000 housing units for homeless

Extra 1,700 rental homes also in B.C. budget

Modular housing for homeless people and additional government-funded rental housing are among new spending initiatives in the B.C. NDP government’s first financial plan.

Finance Minister Carole James presented the budget update Monday, with $291 million over two years to build and operate 2,000 modular housing units for homeless people, with round-the-clock staffing and support services.

Another $208 million goes towards construction costs for 1,700 new rental housing units, to be targeted for lower-income families and seniors. Those units are in addition to previous B.C. programs, with buildings operated by non-profit societies and operation funded by rents.

James outlined B.C.’s continued strong economic performance, much of it driven by booming construction and taxes from increasing employment in urban areas. Even with $1.8 billion in additional ministry spending over the next three years, the budget forecasts surpluses of more than $200 million each year.

“Housing starts do not solve the affordability crisis that we’re facing,” James said, describing the new measures as a first step toward a comprehensive affordable housing and poverty plan.

B.C.’s Residential Tenancy Branch is getting $7 million more to reduce what James called “a crisis” in rent dispute backlogs that has increased as rental markets have tightened. The money funds 30 more positions for handling claims and investigating landlords and tenants who are “repeat offenders,” she said.

The budget also introduces the $100-a-month increase in social assistance rates, to take effect with assistance cheques that are delivered later this month. The cost is estimated at $472 million over three years to increase the rate for 190,000 people, bringing the monthly rate up to $710 for a single employable person and $1,133 per month for someone on disability assistance.

Allowable earnings for assistance recipients are also increased by $200, bringing the total to $600 a month earned without deduction.

Just Posted

Day of Remembrance honours road traffic victims

People killed or seriously injured on Canadian roads remembered Sunday in Kelowna

Community Leader Awards: Coach Dean Kennedy

Kelowna Capital News Leader of the Year series on those that give back to the community

Snowfall warning between Merritt and Hope

As much as 20 centimteres of the white stuff is expected along a stretch of the Coquhialla

Double book launch in Kelowna

Authors Sharon Thesen and Erin Moure read from their new works Thursday at library

Westbank Opry announces Christmas show

West Kelowna music fans are encouraged to bring a food donation to help the less fortunate

Drones used in search for clues about missing women

A volunteer search party was supported by professional drone operators

‘An officer and a gentleman’: Const. John Davidson is laid to rest

Thousands attend memorial service for slain Abbotsford Police officer

Making a difference at Okanagan Boys and Girls Club

Kelowna company president rolls up sleeves with local organization

Letter: Is it time to privative ICBC and BC Hydro?

West Kelowna letter-writer says it’s time the government gives up control of the corporations

VIDEO: Coquihalla closed both directions near Merritt

Detours are available via Hwy. 8 and Hwy. 1

VIDEO: The Last Jedi is going to be the longest ‘Star Wars’ movie yet

Newest movie in the franchise will beat Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week.

PHOTOS: Procession and funeral for Const. John Davidson

Thousands attended celebration of life for Abbotsford police officer

B.C. Liberal leadership candidates debate different paths for party

Third debate held Sunday, Nov. 19 at Nanaimo’s Vancouver Island Conference Centre

Most Read