A gathering of interests

Rental housing and construction industry representatives are cheering changes to the way the government shelters its most vulnerable citizens - a proposal that was questioned earlier this week by social housing advocates. In an interview with Public Eye, Rental Owners and Managers Association of British Columbia chief executive officer Al Kemp said he was "100 percent in favour" of public statements by provincial Housing Minister Rich Coleman that seem to suggest the province will shift focus from funding social housing to handing out supplements so low-income families can live in private sector dwellings.

"What we basically advocate - and the minister is saying the same thing - is that government should get out of providing housing except for people with special needs," explained Mr. Kemp. "The private sector is not good at having an apartment building with a renter who has schizophrenia and goes off her medication or an elderly renter who really needs assistance because she doesn't even remember to turn the stove off."

And why should government put the brakes on constructing and managing social housing? "Like anything," said Mr. Kemp, "the private sector does it more effectively and cost-effectively." He also said government just doesn't have enough money to keep up with the demand for those dwellings - a demand that can be met with private sector vacancies.

And British Columbia Apartment Owners and Managers Association chief executive officer Lynda Pasacreta added that rental supplements allow families "get to choose the neighborhoods they want to live in and choose the community they want to live in" - rather than confining them to a social housing project.

So, said Mr. Kemp, "there's a whole bunch of reasons we think its good government policy - good practice...And obviously it doesn't hurt our industry."

The two associations have been lobbying the government to introduce rental supplements since the Campbell administration's first term in office. "Rich and I have had informal conversations or coffee conversations over the last five or six years," - even before the minister became responsible for social housing, said Mr. Kemp. "And this is one of the things we talked about."

The Canadian Home Builders' Association of British Columbia has also lobbied the government about this matter. And it was at their annual crystal ball session where Minister Coleman, who previously ran a real estate management and consulting company, elaborated on his social housing proposal.


Of course they're in favour, I'd worry they'll discriminate against low-income renters, whether they can pay or not.

"And obviously it doesn't hurt our industry."
- Al Kemp, CEO Rental Owners and Managers Association of British Columbia

Obviously Kemp is a business person and not a politician.
Poor little Ritchie C. will be squirming in his boots when he reads Kemp's comment.

Let me guess, they are itching to develop the land in places like Kits and other neighbourhoods where 35 years ago the citizens put in trust land for seniors and those with disabilities. They can hardly wait to get their hands on these mortgage free properties which are provincial assets. Once again funnelling money from the poorest to their pals.

Let's hope, if they are successful, that we will know what they are sold for and they don't marginalize seniors having them leave their communities after years of participating in them and in many cases paying the taxes that went to their housing before they lived there. And, let's hope they do not give them smaller subsidies for rural communities effectively making them worse off. But, we saw what they did to people married for 50 years in care homes and moving people miles from their families. I don't know how these people can look in the mirror.

Has anyone seen the huge ICBC property now being developed on Broadway? What did they sell it for? And, to whom? That's just one example. There are many. Three levels of gov't with the same ideology, who will help the vulnerable?

Some of these old people would find it too overwhelming to find a new apt and move. Are they going to provide a social worker to aid these people? Or, leave people in their 70's and 80's to fend for themselves. What a disgrace this government is.

News flash to the 'industry'. Many people housed deemed capable of living in the private sector aren't. And, will forget to turn the stove off. You can count on it.

News flash to the 'industry'. Many people housed deemed capable of living in the private sector aren't. And, will forget to turn the stove off. You can count on it.

How did our country breed such a low class of people who think of nothing and no one but themselves? And, don't think twice of stealing community assets for their own gain. Really, I can't understand it.

will they subsidize a Vancouver person $800/month and an Abbotsford person $500? You can't trust private industry to pursue anything but $. Government still has a role in these areas to pursue a more complex result.

Oh, as if they'll keep on funding the supplements.

Saw Sam Sullivan's comment in the 24 hours today. He cheats to get in and then causes untold suffering for people who need our social safety net. Meanwhile, he allowed us to pay for him when he needed it and still is.

Honestly, Canada has been taken over by the worst among us.

Mr. Holman,

Your recent comments on the subject of rental allowances have been drawn to the attention of the Canadian Real Estate Association in Ottawa by one of our British Columbia real estate boards. We appreciate the attention you are giving to this topic in advance of an anticipated debate this spring in your legislature.

Support for rent supplements and shelter allowances form a significant part of our industry's position on federal housing policy, and have been included in each of our Pre-Budget Submissions to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance in 2004 and 2005.

We include our own thoughts on the topic as presented to the Government of Canada in our 2006 Pre-Budget Submission last fall:

"Income subsidies: short-term solution, long-term need: REALTORS would welcome a commitment to the use of income subsidies as a permanent tool of federal policy under the new Canadian Housing Framework, including an analysis of the potential effectiveness of subsidization of mortgage payments for low-income homeowners."

"CREA recommends that the federal government ask CMHC to design the most efficient form of income subsidy that can alleviate housing need."

"CREA recommends that the government incorporate income supplements into the Canadian Housing Framework; and that the government allocate a portion of the annual housing budget for income subsidies."

We were subsequently delighted when Liberal Housing Minister Joe Fontanna announced last year that federal monies could be used for this purpose by the provinces.


James W. Brennan
Director, External Relations
The Canadian Real Estate Association

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