Will housing, homelessness and poverty be big issues in this year’s municipal election in the City of Delta?
That could be the case as a recent survey found those are the dominant issues for British Columbians, regardless of where in the province they live.
The survey conducted by Research Co. for BC Non-Profit Housing Association, the Co-operative Housing Federation of BC and the Aboriginal Housing Management Association found those issues transcend all demographics, ages and genders.
A recent news release by the BC Non-Profit Housing Association noted the findings are grounded in the increasingly severe lack of housing affordability in B.C. where approximately 23,000 people experienced homelessness in 2019, and 20 per cent of renters spend over half of their income on housing and utilities.
“These results and the importance of this as an issue should send a clear message to all incumbents and candidates seeking municipal office this fall that they need to bring a real commitment and real ideas to the table,” said Mario Canseco of Research Co. “The need is great, and the research shows that voters will be prioritizing candidates that will commit to taking concrete action to address local housing needs.”
The survey found that 39 per cent of British Columbians rate housing, homelessness, and poverty as their number one concern. That is more than double the closest second place issue, healthcare, at 18 per cent.
“With upcoming civic elections, voters should remember that municipalities shape the future of communities and the type of housing options that will be available decades into the future,” said Jill Atkey, CEO of BC Non-Profit Housing Association, in the news release.
“While the challenges are clear, there are also solutions. British Columbia’s non-profit housing sector has the solutions and expertise to be an essential partner for local governments to help solve the housing crisis.”
Work is underway on several fronts in Delta when it comes to poverty and housing.
A recent report to council on the city’s Poverty Reduction Action Plan, which has a series of recommendations that are to be incorporated into Delta's Social Action Plan, notes that while poverty is not endemic throughout the city, there are more than 10,000 Delta residents currently living below the poverty line.
City staff are in the process of updating Delta's Social Action Plan and will be working with each department to utilize information from a poverty needs assessment.
The implementation of the recommended actions is contingent upon the availability of adequate resources and the continuous commitment of senior levels of government to support municipalities in this work, according to Delta staff.
The survey by Research Co. found that 73 per cent of respondents support streamlining municipal permitting and rezoning processes to fast-track development of rental housing, with a specific focus on affordable rental housing.
It also found that 77 per cent support contributing public land to non-profit and co-op housing developments for new affordable homes.
The Research Co. survey also found 67 per cent support waiving development cost-charges (DCC) for non-profit and co-op housing developments.
Delta council last month approved a new bylaw aimed at encouraging more affordable non-profit housing by waiving development cost charges, a recommendation which originally came from the new housing action plan.
According to Delta staff, such developments typically do not have the same available capital as for-profit developments, meaning that DCCs can represent a significant financial barrier to the provision of important affordable housing.
The Research Co. survey results are based on an online study conducted from June 12 to June 14, 2022, among 2,000 B.C. adults.