City Blocks Affordable Housing Plan

JMaddock — October 22, 2011

I was quite disgusted today to read that the City of Victoria is continuing to block a private developer’s efforts to offer affordable housing units in an unused downtown hotel. [See ‘It’s not going to cost the city a penny,’ Times Colonist, Oct. 22, 2011]

It seems that the City (which is really just another corporation, albeit one that happens to get most of its funding through the use of force) has a clear incentive not to allow new affordable housing units in the downtown core:

“Down the road sits another former Traveller’s Inn being used to house 36 low-income people, its stucco crumbling and its rotted railings propped up with newly painted 2X4s. This building, at 710 Queens Rd., is now known as Queens Manor and was one of two Traveller’s Inns bought by the city for $5.6 million.”

Wherever you come from ideologically, it’s difficult to deny that Victoria is in desperate need of more affordable housing. It’s one of the main talking points in every local election. But it seems that once they are elected, local politicians only support affordable housing that’s publicly funded and managed.

When a private entrepreneur comes along with a viable business model to turn an empty hotel into cheap housing for struggling Victorians, City Hall opposes it. Could it be that politicians only believe in helping people when they have a monopoly on doing it?

I was also a little shocked by at least one councilor’s rational for opposing the private affordable housing plan:

“Coun. Lynn Hunter is worried that the nature of the development could make it a magnet for single men, which could lead to added social costs such as police calls the city will have to pick up in the future.”

Can you imagine if this left-leaning councilor had said the same thing about blacks, natives, or basically any minority group other than “single men?”

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