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Filipinos in Canada demand more affordable housing

Rowena Papasin | TFC News Vancouver

Posted at Nov 15 2023 06:09 PM

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British Columbia is facing its worst housing crisis in years.

B.C. Premier David Eby admitted that it has become a real challenge to find affordable homes in the province.

"That's especially true for people who are vulnerable like migrant workers and others, people who are working in jobs that are lower wage jobs," he said. "So, we need more rental housing to be built."

This is why the government is rolling out new measures to make more affordable homes available.

Among these are the ban on short-term rentals like the AirBnBs a Vrbo, to free up more units for long-term rentals, as well as building more duplexes or four-plexes, and allowing secondary suites on properties zoned for single-family homes.

Homeowners who want to build a secondary suite that they plan to rent out can also get up to 40,000 Canadian dollars in loan starting April 2024.

The loan is forgivable under certain conditions.

"In five years, they have to rent out that unit that they built below market price, like really low price so to help out all these newcomers," said Edwin Lorico of the Design and Construction Management. "In five years, that loan $40,000. You do not have to pay back to the government."

Filipino-Canadians are glad that the government is finding ways to solve the problem. But some said these measures are still not enough.

"Hopefully, the buildings that we’re trying to build now will kind of lessen the problem," said Bernadette Escudero, a restaurant owner. "But I don’t think the problem will ever go away."

Escudero’s business partners note that the shortage of affordable homes and the sky-high rents in Metro Vancouver are driving more people to live farther out.

"You can't afford anything now in Vancouver," said Alex Antonio. "You have to venture out in Abbotsford or Kelowna to get a better price."

Evelyn Lopez, meanwhile, said that buying a home instead of renting has also become increasingly out of reach due to higher interest rates and the high cost of living.

"It's still difficult to buy because wages are still low no matter what we do," she said. "Food is also expensive and banks want only a certain percentage of income to go to the mortgage."

With more immigrants expected to make the province their home in the coming years, Filipino-Canadians urged the government to take further steps to effectively address the housing crisis.

Member of Parliament Don Davies, who represents the Vancouver-Kingsway riding, said the housing crisis is happening not just in B.C. but in many parts of Canada.

He stressed that this is a problem that government should treat as if it’s going to war.

"It's a national shame that a country as wealthy as Canada has people living on the streets," he said. "Or so many people who are doing what they're asked to do, they're working hard, they're paying their bills, and they still can't have an adequate place for them and their families."