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Homemade housing crisis

We have a housing crisis.

The lack of affordable housing has been a significant concern for many residents in Kelowna-Mission, and it is something that I am working tirelessly to address.

Last week in the Legislative Assembly, I told the story of an 81-year-old senior who is on the brink of homelessness as they cannot afford housing, and have been on the waiting list for seniors subsidized housing for the last two years.

They are hopeless and homeless.

I wish that this was an isolated case. Tonight, on my way to the airport, I spoke to a constituent in his 70s who is no longer able to make ends meet. His rent has almost doubled this last year, as his unit was turned into a seasonal rental, sending him looking for another rental home in town.

He showed me his budget, and after looking through it, I was filled with indignation knowing that society is asking him to subsist below any minimum income job. But it is also $500 over what would be required for assistance. Again, seniors being required to live in poverty.

This is a familiar tale. Young adults are living with parents for longer as they cannot afford to move out. Most will not be able to afford housing ownership as right now it takes an income of $250,000 per year to qualify for an average home – that is if they could save up the down payment. A recent study found that it would take 22 years to save for a 20% down payment currently.

So what was the current NDP government’s answer to this homemade crisis?

Almost six years ago they produced a 30-point plan that focused on lowering the demand for housing. Over 13 new costs and taxes increased the cost of housing, and made it less affordable while making it more difficult to build.

A year and a half ago, the Premier (then Housing Minister) finally admitted that taxes were not going to get us to more affordable housing.

The NDP plan also promised 114,000 new affordable housing units in 6 years.

To date, just under 10% of those units have been completed, with 2300 units having already underway when they took over government.

So what does this leave us with?

Currently, we are sitting with the highest price rental and market housing in North America here in BC.

Here in Kelowna, we are #4 in the highest rental rates in Canada.

This is why we have seniors living in their cars, and young adults living with their parents or sharing five bedroom houses with 10 people.

What’s the answer?

We need to focus on creating opportunities for economic growth in our community. This means supporting local businesses, attracting new investments, and creating great paying jobs for residents of Kelowna-Mission. By working together with local business leaders and community organizations, we can create a thriving economy that allows young adults to afford the housing that is required.

We also need government to get out of the way.

Too many needless processes that overlap with others, and too many fees and costs.

In addition, governments don’t commit to stable timeframes for issuing approvals, which can increase risk and further drive up the costs of housing, making it unattainable.

We need increased funding for affordable housing projects, but also projects that are done in a less costly way.

The provincial government run BC Housing Society builds housing at some of the highest prices in the province. These are taxpayer funds, and they need to be spent wisely.

We need local organizations and community groups to identify creative solutions to the housing crisis. We need to work with developers to ensure that additional capacity is brought on, and housing units can be built faster.

All of these measures can help to increase the supply of affordable housing in our community, which is essential for ensuring that everyone has access to safe, comfortable, and affordable housing options.

It is unacceptable to have our seniors not have a place to live, or to have them live in poverty because of the exorbitant cost of rent.

It is not acceptable to have young people without the dream of owning their own home.

It is time that real action is taken to deliver results on our housing affordability.

Together, we can ensure that seniors and other vulnerable populations have access to secure, attainable, and suitable housing options, and that everyone in our community has a place to call home.

My question to you this week is this:

What other solutions do you see for our lack of housing affordability?

I love hearing from you, and I read every email I receive.

Please email me at or call my office at 250-712-3620.

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