A BRIEF SUMMARY OF ROB DUNCAN’S HOUSING PLATFORM
Victoria’s HOUSING EMERGENCY is the main focus of Rob Duncan’s campaign for Mayor of Victoria, and Rob proposes an array of different strategies and solutions for energetically addressing the different aspects of the crisis. To read the policy in complete detail, please see the Housing page on this site.
NOT ONE CRISIS BUT THREE. Victoria’s housing emergency can be seen as three distinct but inter-related crises:
(1) a HOMELESSNESS AND NONMARKET SOCIAL HOUSING crisis
(2) a RENTAL market crisis
(3) a REAL ESTATE market crisis
HOMELESSNESS AND NONMARKET SOCIAL HOUSING
HOUSING is a BASIC HUMAN RIGHT, and HOMELESSNESS is both a POLICY CHOICE by government, and a HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION.
When Super InTent City was happening in downtown Victoria a couple of years ago, a one-day count of Victoria’s homeless population produced an estimate of 1387; a few months after that count, a judge agreed that a promise to create 326 new units of supported housing (57 % of which were in CONDEMNED BUILDINGS, & another 15 % of which were actually TENTS, in either a gym or a courtyard) was sufficient to justify an injunction closing the camp. Victoria presently needs more than a thousand units of supported housing. Homelessness still has never been seriously addressed in Victoria.
Funding from the Province is available for MOBILE MODULAR HOUSING (that can be taken down and moved quickly and easily), but in the longer term, the City should focus on purpose-built supported housing and integrated subsidized housing. In the short term, as well as mobile modular housing, Victoria needs a MUNICIPAL CAMPGROUND, and should revisit the idea of MINIATURE HOUSES (in clusters of 10 or 12 in selected locations).
Victoria needs more nonmarket subsidized housing, including housing for single parent families, women and children fleeing violence, and seniors, in particular.
Even when they CAN find housing, far too many tenants in Victoria are paying more than the benchmark for affordability, 30 % of their income for rent.
RENTAL MARKET CRISIS
Victoria’s vacancy rate has been effectively zero for years. Victoria needs a proactive Mayor who will assert the public interest in working with developers and builders. There are a number of strategies the City can take to address the emergency in the rental market, including:
(1) REQUIRE inclusion of 20 % affordable rental units in all multi-unit residential developments, and
INCENTIVIZE inclusion of additional rental units,
(2) by fast-tracking development applications,
(3) by permitting additional stories (promoting increased density), and
(4) with property tax reductions.
(5) Encouraging and fast-tracking creation of secondary suites, and encouraging greater density.
(6) Requiring that any rental housing that’s demolished must be replaced with at least as many units of new rental housing (potentially as part of a larger development with greater density that includes some condominiums as well as the required number of rental units).
–> Establish a HOUSING SECURITY FUND to assist those at risk of homelessness to keep their housing.
–> Assist with the establishment of a TENANTS’ UNION to protect the rights of tenants and enhance their ability to protect themselves from unfair landlord practices.
REAL ESTATE MARKET CRISIS
Mayor and Council should work with the provincial government to facilitate:
(1) Increase Foreign Buyer’s Tax from 15 % to 30 % (not 20 %) for Victoria. If the tax wasn’t effective at 15 %, it won’t be effective at 20 %.
(2) Annual Foreign OWNER’S Tax in Victoria, partially refunded depending on income tax paid by the owner(s) in BC.
(3) Empty Homes Tax for Victoria on homes that are not occupied, regardless of whether the owner is a BC resident or pays income tax in BC. Keeping homes unoccupied should be strongly discouraged.
(4) Increase Property Transfer Tax on properties worth $2M or more (instead of $3M) to 10 % instead of 5 % (from 3 %) in Victoria.
Another measure the City can take is to encourage renting, to reduce runaway demand & the market distortions this causes.