Letter-writer Cathy Carey suggests all levels of government need to work together to find a solution to affordable housing. (File photo)

Letter-writer Cathy Carey suggests all levels of government need to work together to find a solution to affordable housing. (File photo)

LETTERS: All of us deserve safe place to live

Why not provide developers with incentives to build fixed-income rental highrises?

An open letter to South Surrey-White Rock MP Dianne Watts.

I’ve been meaning to write for months, but got bogged down in other important issues, i.e. how renters are being routinely swept out of White Rock to make more room for owners with lots of money.

I am one of those renters and have been living in White Rock since 2008. I moved from Fleetwood because the ride home from work on 152 Street was taking longer and longer. I have since retired.

MLA Stephanie Cadieux recently informed me that while the mayor cannot force a developer to build rentals, a bylaw can be introduced whereby a number of the units would be put aside for rentals. That is all nice and dandy, but experience has shown me that rents that are considered ‘affordable’ by some are ‘unaffordable’ for most.

The reason is simple: While mortgage companies will not put forth any money if it is more than 30 per cent of your income, the provincial government deems it acceptable that anyone on a fixed income pay upwards of 50-75 per cent of their income towards rent. When I think of how that affects women and their children, the elderly, the sick, the mentally and physically challenged, I am ashamed to admit I live in B.C., much less Canada.

It is no wonder we have such a large drug crisis in this province. We need housing for everyone.

It is pathetic how developers have been given free rein to continue to build condos, yet no incentives are given to build rentals. Our BC Housing units are full of immigrants that the federal government has invited to Canada, leaving no room for the Canadians who are in need of housing.

For so long, the provincial government has paid mortgages for owners of rental units – houses, basement suites, etc. – and has wasted millions of dollars on damage deposits that never get returned.

I have a proposal that might change all this. Why not provide developers with incentives to build fixed-income rental highrises? The buildings would be owned by the government. There would no need for damage deposits and instead incentives could be provided to renters to keep their units undamaged. There could be designated buildings for singles, single parents, two-parent families, seniors and other buildings for the severely mentally, physically and addicted population. Jobs could be created to teach those who do not know how to clean, how to budget, how to parent etc., regardless of education.

All I know is, everyone – all of us – deserves a safe place to live. What a great legacy it would be for anyone to spend whatever it would cost and get those buildings up within the next two years.

As a Toastmaster, I can continue to speak up about this issue, but I could really use your help, Dianne. We all could.

Cathy Carey, White Rock