Maple Ridge is in urgent need of affordable housing for seniors and families, according to the city’s recently released Housing Needs Report.
According to the report, in the five years from 2015-2020 the number of Maple Ridge applicants on BC Housing’s waitlist for non-market housing increased by 49 per cent. As of 2020, seniors represent the largest category on this waitlist at 39 per cent, followed by families at 30 per cent.
The province requires cities to collect data, analyze trends and present a report that describe current and anticipated housing needs in their communities by April 2022, to be updated every five years.
Maple Ridge’s report says:
• Household income is above regional averages, yet housing affordability challenges persist, particularly for renter households.
• While Maple Ridge has the lowest housing prices in Metro Vancouver, the benchmark price of a single-detached home has risen substantially, and is increasingly out of reach for median-income earning households.
• There is a disproportionate number of renter households in housing need.
Coun. Kiersten Duncan was ruled out of order by Mayor Michael Morden, after she said council isn’t doing enough.
“It frustrates me a little, because I feel like this is just another report, and we’re not doing anything,” said Duncan.
She said council should choose properties, and work with the province and organizations in the community on affordable housing projects.
“We can’t just keep talking about how we’re going to deal with homelessness and we’re going to help people, we have to actually do something,” said Duncan, and added the previous council she was on had implemented more than 600 units of affordable housing.
“I don’t feel that this council has been fighting for affordable housing, or special needs housing, or housing for people with disabilities,” said Duncan.
“I’m so sick and tired of just talking about doing things, and not actually getting anything done.”
Morden “paused” Duncan in the online meeting and countered that council has created a reserve for affordable housing.
“This council has done many things in order to facilitate housing,” he said, but agreed the city needs to do more.
“What is that, and who should be doing it, is the big question,” said Morden.
Coun. Judy Dueck said council completed a housing action plan in 2015, and the issue has been “front and centre.”
“This is something that every municipality is struggling with. It’s no secret that Metro Vancouver is one of the most expensive places in the world to live,” said Dueck, and added council has initiatives under way that cannot be publicly discussed at this time.
She suggested the situation may be worse than the report says.
“I’m also concerned that this is 2016 data that we’re using, so what’s it going to look like [after] the next census,” said Dueck.
BC Housing is in the middle of a series of virtual dialogue sessions for Maple Ridge residents, to discuss the local housing continuum and identify their priorities. The third and final session will be held on Feb. 25 from 1:30-3 p.m. Sessions will be held by BC Housing via Zoom and are limited to 25 participants each. For more information or to register see letstalkhousingbc.ca/maple-ridge
The online sessions will provide information about the full scope of BC Housing’s funding opportunities, with a focus on affordable housing.
“We need more affordable housing, especially for seniors and families,” said MLAs Lisa Beare and Bob D’Eith in a statement. “The city’s recently completed housing needs assessment is a reason why BC Housing is holding these engagement sessions. We look forward to what proposals come out of these sessions that will help address the housing needs of Maple Ridge residents.”
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