Provincial Liberal Minister Rich Coleman may be planning on shifting focus from funding social housing to handing out rent supplements. But an independent report commissioned by B.C. Housing Corp. while the New Democrats were in power concluded those supplements are more expensive than the housing projects they'd replace. According to The Vancouver Sun's Francis Bula, the 1998 study - which was written by David Black of Ekos Research Inc. - "compared the actual costs of 32 pairs of housing units - a social-housing apartment or house and a private one where the tenant was getting a government rent supplement - for the last 20 years. In each case, the study's statistics revealed that social housing starts out being more expensive for government, because it is paying large subsidies to make rent affordable for tenants in expensive new buildings. But typically, after about five years - not the 22-36 years that has been assumed in other studies - market rents start to go higher than the monthly cost of social housing, so people getting rent supplements need larger and larger supplements each year to make the housing affordable."
"Black said market rents tend to rise higher than social-housing costs because private landlords have a goal of getting a return on their investment, which social-housing managers don't. As well, people donate time to help manage social housing, which doesn't happen in the private market." That validity of that study was subsequently challenged in estimates by Ted Nebbeling, who was then the Liberal's employment and investment critic.