Concerns raised about rising cost of rentals for low-income earners: Vancouver MP

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is promising to build more affordable housing and protect existing units from disappearing from the market. Glen McGregor with one of the way's Trudeau is trying to boost his slumping support from younger voters.

A Vancouver NDP MP is sounding the alarm when it comes to rent-geared-to-income housing units, saying incoming changes by the federal government will lead to a severe shortage within the affordable housing market in this country.

Vancouver East MP Jenny Kwan says she’s learned that as of March 31, 2028, Ottawa will be cutting subsidy funding to non-profits that operate buildings that include units for those on a fixed income. Once those suites are vacated, she says the price of those units will be bumped to market rates.

For example, a rental suite that’s going for $650 right now could be increased to $1,800 or more.

Kwan adds these changes are happening right now at some buildings in Metro Vancouver as non-profits try to bank money to prepare for their funding to be slashed in the future.

“Effectively, that would mean thousands of affordable homes will be lost in Canada. From my perspective, this makes no sense at all, especially when we have the housing crisis to the magnitude that we have,” she said.

Kwan’s blaming the federal Liberals for this.

“In this instance, it’s particularly outrageous because they’re giving with the right hand, making all these announcements, running around saying, ‘We’re investing in housing and all of that,’ but with the left hand, they’re actually taking away. In this instance, they’re going to be eliminating a significant number of rent-geared-to-income affordable homes,” the MP explained.

Kwan claims for every one unit of new affordable housing that’s built, 11 are lost.

“And this is one of the ways that they’re losing it,” explained Kwan. “They’re losing it because the federal government is refusing to continue to provide the much-needed subsidy to existing affordable homes and non-profits will have no choice but to rent those affordable homes at the market rate.”

She stresses current residents of these suites should not expect to lose their homes — right now.

“The landlords are non-profits. They’re not going to want to push people out, that’s the last thing they want to do. People won’t be displaced in that way, but the affordable housing stock will be lost,” said Kwan, who added the country’s affordable housing stock is among the lowest of G7 nations.

Kwan feels the solution is for the federal government to continue providing the subsidy.

Speaking in Vancouver in February, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced up to $2 billion in additional financing to help build thousands of mid-class homes in the city and around the province.

The money was in addition to $2 billion previously announced by the B.C. government to build affordable units.

Housing is already a hot topic ahead of this fall’s provincial election and will be a key focus of the federal government’s budget on Apr. 16. CityNews will have in-depth coverage of both, on-air and online.

-With files from Cole Schisler

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