Earlier, we reported provincial Liberal minister Rich Coleman hadn't consulted social housing advocates about possible changes to the way the province shelters its most vulnerable citizens. But this isn't the first time the member from Fort Langley-Aldergrove has given those advocates the nervous Nellies. Back in 2000, The Vancouver Sun reported organizations such as the B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association were preparing election material defending the construction of social housing. The reason: according to Francis Bula, "The preparations are prompted by a vague but strong sense that the Liberals intend to stake out a new position on housing that would put less emphasis on funding social housing and more on providing rent subsidies to enable lower-income tenants to rent from private landlords."
"The main evidence for that sense, so far, is conversations and public statements from Liberal housing critic Rich Coleman. Coleman's policy paper on housing hasn't made it through caucus or been fleshed out with detailed numbers. But he has posed public and private questions about the cost of B.C.'s housing program, currently the richest in the country. Coleman contends the $200 million the province is spending to build 2,400 units of social housing in the next two years could be used more effectively. He claims that if the province took that money and put it into rent subsidies instead, it could serve 10,000 families instead of 2,400." Minister Coleman is refusing interview requests seeking clarification about his present social housing plans, despite having already discussed them with industry interests.