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Affordable housing continues to be a challenge

By Don Fennell and Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 3:11 PDT, Tue October 13, 2020

Richmond South Centre

Downtown Richmond has experienced rapid growth in recent years, and now contains an abundance of high-density housing. But keeping housing affordable remains a major issue for residents of the riding.

Created in 2015 from redistributing parts of other ridings, Richmond South Centre is geographically the city’s smallest. It was previously held by longtime BC Liberal MLA Linda Reid, who announced her retirement earlier this year. In a time of change, the continued construction and development in the riding poses new challenges for the two candidates in this election.

“There needs to be an increase in supply of affordable housing in the Richmond South Centre riding,” says BC Liberal candidate Alexa Loo. “The only way to achieve that is to redevelop existing locations within this area.”

A current city councillor herself, Loo points out that redevelopment must be approved by council, although the province can provide developers with incentives. A quicker solution is rent subsidies, she suggests.

“This allows people to find the home that suits them, and supports them to afford it,” she says. “When they earn above the threshold to receive a subsidy, they do not have to move as they are able to afford more.”

In 2017, the outgoing Liberal government announced $12 million in funding for 80 affordable housing units as part of a complex on No. 2 Road at Westminster Highway. Richmond’s Pathways Clubhouse Society was selected to receive the funding. Also in 2017, the Liberals announced loans to assist first-time home buyers, a program that was cancelled in early 2018 after minimal use.

BC NDP candidate Henry Yao says while some progress is being made to address housing affordability in the riding, people are still struggling to buy and rent in Richmond.

“The BC NDP is putting the brakes on skyrocketing prices,” he says. “We want young people to stay, not move away.”

Yao says the speculation tax is “starting to work,” and that thousands more condominiums were used for long-term rentals last year. 

“But there's still much more to do.”

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