Federal and provincial housing ministers emerged from their meeting in Victoria Tuesday with a promise to create the first Canadian housing strategy in 40 years.
With house prices soaring out of reach of many people in urban areas and a scarcity of rental units, Jean-Yves Duclos, federal minister responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, has promised B.C. a $150 million share of the Justin Trudeau government's first budget for housing initiatives.
Duclos said housing affordability is a problem from low-income renters to people attempting to buy homes in urban areas, and is increasing with an aging population. While there little comparison between someone struggling to pay rent and a family trying to save for a down payment, he said it is all connected.
"If affordable housing is not there, it will put pressure on social housing," Duclos said. "If social housing is insufficient, it will create pressure on shelters. If market housing doesn't work efficiently, it will create pressure in other sections of the housing spectrum. No one government can address that alone."
Coleman said the $150 million budgeted for B.C. in the latest federal budget can be shared between upgrading existing provincial housing, building new social housing and matching provincial funds set aside for housing for aboriginal people.
When word of the ministers' meeting at a Victoria hotel was made public, a group of protesters using a bullhorn and public address system descended on the hotel to chant and yell demands for social housing.
They briefly attempted to force their way into the hotel, but were dispersed by police. They then returned to the tent camp that took over a lawn next to the Victoria courthouse last fall.