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Affordable housing in Victoria


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#21 Holden West

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Posted 03 October 2006 - 11:07 PM

B.C. unveils new housing strategy

Last Updated: Tuesday, October 3, 2006 | 2:53 PM PT
CBC News

The B.C. government plans to offer rental assistance in the form of subsidies to as many as 15,000 low-income families and homeless individuals as part of a new provincial housing strategy.

The strategy, called Housing Matters B.C., is designed to assist B.C. residents in obtaining affordable housing, Housing Minister Rich Coleman said Tuesday in Victoria.

"We are making a huge shift in British Columbia today," Coleman said. "One that starts to say we actually believe in people."

The minister said $40 million in rental aid will be provided annually to working families with an annual income below $20,000.

"I think it's important that we start to break the back of the affordability of housing for a lot of people in B.C. and I hope it's oversubscribed," Coleman said. "I hope it's massively successful."

The program will give qualified families direct cash payments to help with their rent, instead of making them wait for public housing.

Eligible families can apply for assistance based on their household size, income, rent and location.

As an example, Coleman said a family of five living in the Vancouver area with an annual income of less than $20,000 and a monthly rent of $875 would receive about $110 in subsidies.

Opposition disappointed

NDP Leader Carole James called the new strategy a complete failure.

"I think the public will be very disappointed," she said. "This does nothing to address the issue."

James says rent subsidies may help, but they're just one part of a much bigger picture.

She points to a government discussion paper last year that talks of the need for more than $3,100 a year in supportive housing.

Program inadequate say activists

Some social activists are dismissing the new program as inadequate.

Jean Swanson, spokesperson for the Carnegie Community Action Project, told CBC News that she's appalled by the minister's announcement.

"It was amazing that Coleman actually acknowledged that people in poverty and children are suffering and having poor nutrition and poor educational outcomes because they're poor," she said. "Yet this government is standing by and doing nothing for the very poorest of the children, the ones who are on welfare."

Swanson says people on social assistance are not eligible for the rental assistance program because they already receive shelter allowances.

However, under the government's new strategy, it is promising to spend $10.7 million on building 450 subsidized housing units for the homeless.

Another $13 million will be spent to construct 550 assisted living units annually over the next 35 years.

The strategy also includes an expanded outreach program to assist the homeless with financial support and government housing.
With files from the Canadian Press
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#22 Holden West

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 09:45 PM

Times Colonist editorial

(Copyright Times Colonist (Victoria) 2006)

When shelter consumes half the family budget, the government needs to take drastic measures

The new housing programs announced by the B.C. government are useful and welcome, but it's a stretch to claim they represent a strategy aimed at the critical issues of homelessness and affordability.

Housing Minister Rich Coleman signalled the direction the government hopes to go in tackling the housing problem with his announcement.

But the plan looks more like one of those pretty sketches developers prepare to sell their latest project than a blueprint that can be used for building.

The largest element of the plan is a $40-million commitment to send out rent subsidy checks to about 15,000 of the province's poorest families. People with children who are trying to live on less than $20,000 a year can apply for the subsidy program. The amount they get will depend mainly on their income and number of children. A family of four on Vancouver Island getting by on $12,000 a year would get the maximum subsidy, about $182 a month.

The theory is that the government is helping poor families keep their housing costs to 30 per cent of their income.

But there is a problem, especially for needy families in the capital region. The government assumes that a family of four can find accommodation for $705 a month and the subsidy is based on that ceiling.

There is another problem. Coleman said the subsidies are needed because children are suffering from malnutrition and health and learning problems as their families struggle to pay the rent on limited incomes. But the program excludes families on welfare, which provides a maximum $590 a month for housing for a family of four. The plight of those children should be just as important.

Coleman bills the plan as "a huge shift" from past policies. Instead of stressing -- and funding -- the construction of affordable housing units, more money will go directly to renters who will make their own choices.

There were other measures, including more money for shelters and seniors' housing and a modest program to provide outreach support to connect the homeless with needed services. But outreach programs can do little when there is simply no supported housing available for people ready to get off the streets.

Coleman promises more to come.

Some affordable housing projects are providing a few units on large amounts of valuable land. Selling parts of those properties to pay for a higher density project makes sense, he says.

The theory behind the announcement makes sense. It recognizes that there is no one solution to the problems of housing affordability and homelessness.

Subsidies, more affordable housing units, supported housing for those unable to live on their own, shelters and transitional housing are all needed.

But the reality falls far short of what's required. Homelessness and the struggle to get by in an increasingly expensive housing market condemn thousands of British Columbians to a desperate existence. More than 60,000 households are spending more than half their income on housing today.

The government has taken a first step. There's a long way to go.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#23 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 09:51 PM

OK, if you are on welfare and have no hope of finding/lookig for a job, don't live in an expensive city.

I'm on ROLL tonight.
<p><span style="font-size:12px;"><em><span style="color:rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;">"I don’t need a middle person in my pizza slice transaction" <strong>- zoomer, April 17, 2018</strong></span></em></span>

#24 Holden West

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 09:53 PM

^Yeah, go up to Gold River where it's cheap to live and get a good job at the pulp mill, or at one of the many new schools they're building up there.





What's that you say?
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#25 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 09:54 PM

Live in Coombs
<p><span style="font-size:12px;"><em><span style="color:rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;">"I don’t need a middle person in my pizza slice transaction" <strong>- zoomer, April 17, 2018</strong></span></em></span>

#26 Holden West

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 10:13 PM

Live in Coombs


Except that there aren't any homes for sale in Coombs. You could live in Parksville but you'll need to spend $10,000 a year on a car.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#27 Holden West

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Posted 23 October 2006 - 05:13 PM

There were homeless demonstrations in downtown Victoria and Vancouver today. Tear gas was used to flush protesters out of the Janion Building on Store St. I saw it on TV and the most shocking thing was seeing activity inside the Janion for the first time in my life.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#28 larrobb

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Posted 23 October 2006 - 08:40 PM

now that you mention it- first time i've seen any action in the Janion too. good on Victoria Police for 'nipping it in the bud', as ol' Barn used to say.

#29 m0nkyman

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Posted 23 October 2006 - 08:58 PM

Yeah, 'cause squatting a building that has been essentially abandoned warrants such heavy handed tactics... NOT!

#30 gumgum

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Posted 23 October 2006 - 09:02 PM

The kooky old lady thay owns that building MUST sell it.

#31 G-Man

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Posted 24 October 2006 - 06:43 AM

I predict it will fall down before it ever gets fixed up.

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#32 Caramia

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Posted 24 October 2006 - 01:30 PM

I keep hearing business men say there should be disincentives for leaving a building empty. Well, having it squatted is a pretty good disincentive. What annoys me is that taxpayers footed the bill for the police to pull people out of the Janion building. If you are going to leave a place empty while it crumbles to the ground you should at least have to pay for its security and clean up.
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#33 Holden West

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Posted 24 October 2006 - 01:48 PM

Yes, I'm surprised he was able to gain access since it was pretty common knowledge a big squatting event was imminent.

Regarding the term "homeless" mentioned in the "Rate the Core" thread, it seems that term is useless in describing the reality of how people are living. Between folks like us that have secure homes and folks that are permanently on the streets there are many living in-between. Perhaps "insecurely housed" or some other euphimism would be a more accurate way to label people in these circumstances.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#34 Caramia

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Posted 24 October 2006 - 03:26 PM

Good point. Social science literature calls them "underhoused."
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#35 gumgum

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Posted 24 October 2006 - 04:23 PM

I keep hearing business men say there should be disincentives for leaving a building empty. Well, having it squatted is a pretty good disincentive. What annoys me is that taxpayers footed the bill for the police to pull people out of the Janion building. If you are going to leave a place empty while it crumbles to the ground you should at least have to pay for its security and clean up.

Good point.
The police chief and the mayor should really be asking themselves: why are we wasting our resources on this eccentric old lady that insists on holding on to this place?
Let em' squat there.
I'm fed up with this woman. Let her worry about the mess she's created.
Like you said, it would be a good incentive for her to get rid in the very least.

#36 mikedw

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Posted 24 October 2006 - 04:27 PM

I keep hearing business men say there should be disincentives for leaving a building empty. Well, having it squatted is a pretty good disincentive. What annoys me is that taxpayers footed the bill for the police to pull people out of the Janion building. If you are going to leave a place empty while it crumbles to the ground you should at least have to pay for its security and clean up.


This loon, Clara Beatrice Kramer, owns the Janion and the Northern Junk buildings on the other side of the bridge. I think this Janion thing is a collision of two of Victoria's archetypes: old people with money and riff-raff who would rather be poor than working.

When she was willed these properties, she was told to never sell them. So, she took this one step future and decided not to lease or sell it.

Victoria doesn't have an abandonned building bylaw. However, police can and do hand bills to business owners for alarm calls. There is no reason they can't hand Kramer the bill for yesterday's policing (e.g. 10 cops X 4 hrs. X their median wage). Police can do whatever they want: hand the bat a bill. If she doesn't take them to court and doesn't pay, the bill can go to collections and/or be attached to her taxes.

Also, a developer could sue for the sale of the property but I think they can sue for a property that makes up a portion of the project (e.g. sue for the last house on the block) but not sue for a property that makes up the whole of project.

My Janion plan:
Level 1, front: night club
Level 1, back: restaurant
Level 2: offices
Level 3: condos

#37 Caramia

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Posted 24 October 2006 - 04:31 PM

She has indicated that she is willing to lease it, but in the state it is in you'd have to be very wealthy to take on that lease. The roof has been compromised for years, and the renovation costs for a Heritage building like that would be millions... for property you are giving back at lease end. Who'd do that?
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#38 m0nkyman

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Posted 24 October 2006 - 05:12 PM

She has indicated that she is willing to lease it, but in the state it is in you'd have to be very wealthy to take on that lease. The roof has been compromised for years, and the renovation costs for a Heritage building like that would be millions... for property you are giving back at lease end. Who'd do that?


someone with a 99 year lease....

#39 Caramia

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Posted 24 October 2006 - 05:25 PM

True, it would have to be that long to be worth it. I've got no idea if she'd be willing to go for that kind of lease. I'd heard a few deals almost went through... anyone know details? I've also heard there may be some negotiation in the works recently, but know no specifics.
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#40 aastra

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Posted 24 October 2006 - 05:45 PM

I still don't see why it would be difficult to develop it along with the properties on either side of it. Plenty of potential there for condos and commercial space. More than enough to cover the cost of restoring the building to some degree, methinks.

Again, make an allowance for a few extra stories in height in order to get the process happening. Can't the city do a pro-active rezoning? "Hey, developers. You know that old Fogg n' Sudds lot? You can build a junior highrise like Corazon there now. No hoops to jump through."

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