The provincial government says it will spend $950 million and provide $2 billion in low-cost financing to have hundreds of rental homes built on under-used public land, which would then be provided to middle-income earners living in those communities.
The announcement is the latest under the province's Homes for People program, which was announced last April and promised a multi-pronged approach to supply new types of housing in the province, combat rampant speculation and address the ongoing problem of many British Columbians not having appropriate, affordable housing.
In Tuesday's announcement, the province said it would bring down building costs, speed up the development process and offer low-cost land, financing and grants for projects.
B.C. Builds would partner with non-profit housing providers, public agencies, First Nations and community groups to build rental housing on sites such as parking lots near community centres, open areas behind hospitals and land next to long-term care homes, it said.
The program aims to have construction begin on the projects 12 to 18 months from conception compared to the typical three to five years, said the province.
B.C Builds homes, which will range from studio apartments to three- and four-bedroom units — a type of housing lacking in B.C. — would be made available to households earning between $84,780 and $191,910 a year, with their income tested ahead of move-in to determine if they qualify.
For B.C. Builds projects in partnership with non-profits and First Nations, at least 20 per cent of units must rent at 20 per cent below market rents, the province said.
It added that rents will be determined on a community-by-community basis.
The new income-tested housing will operate in addition to other similar programs such as B.C.'s supportive housing fund, Indigenous housing fund and the community housing fund.
On Tuesday, the province said 20 sites have already been identified for housing under the program.
It gave an example in North Vancouver, where a site owned by the city at 225 E. Second St. that's being developed by non-profit housing provider Catalyst would have an 18-storey mass-timber building constructed on it.
It would include 180 units for middle-income earners who are employed in North Vancouver, with a minimum of 20 per cent of the units renting 20 per cent below market rates.
The building will be on the same site as the North Shore Neighbourhood House, which provides community services including care spaces for 37 children.
In a busy legislative session last fall, the B.C. NDP announced housing-related initiatives or legislation meant to restrict short-term rental accommodations, fast-track building approvals, build more housing at transit locations and have standardized designs for small-scale, multi-unit homes, such as townhomes, triplexes and laneway homes, in order to expedite cities' permitting processes.