New affordable housing initiative for Columbia Basin

Columbia Basin Trust launches Affordable Rental Housing initiative to aid affordable housing projects.

Affordable housing projects could be cropping up across the Columbia Basin this summer after a joint announcement earmarking $10 million for rental housing ventures was made recently.

Called the Affordable Rental Housing initiative (ARHi), the new program will be available throughout the Columbia Basin, including the Greater Trail region, to help solve the housing crunch afflicting most corners of the Kootenays.

Using a combined $5 million in investment over three years from the federal and provincial governments, a further $5 million has been added to that sum by the Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) through a separate funding agreement with the province.

CBT created the program to leverage extra federal and provincial dollars into the basin, said Delphi Hoodicoff, director of communications with the CBT.

“Our objective is to ensure we can build as many units as possible with those dollars,” she said. “Whatever proposals can come forward to make these units happen, we welcome those submissions.”

With some organizations already working on trying to resolve the issue and address some of the shortcomings, there was a need for a program to fund the work that was already going on out there, she noted, and create opportunities for new developments.

“What we have heard from most communities in the basin is that there is a need for affordable rental housing,” Hoodicoff said. “Whatever may be causing that, whether it is high real estate or lack space and buildings, there is a wide range of reasons.”

The procurement process for the ARHi will be revealed later this week and is expected to answer questions of how the program will work on the ground, how it will accept applications for project funding, who can apply, and how much will be given out.

A request for proposals process will also be announced at the end of the week, giving the information necessary for communities and organizations in the region on how ARHi will work on the ground.

As well, the CBT has not yet released where the greatest need may be in the Columbia Basin for affordable housing, said Hoodicoff, although affordable rental housing is an issue across the region.

There will be two intakes for proposals, one this spring and another next year, after which the program will be assessed to see where it is at and how much money is left in the ARHi pot.

Every creative submission will be examined and given its due in order to support construction of new affordable rental housing projects in communities across the Columbia Basin, Hoodicoff said.