British Columbia Temporary Abuse Shelter: The Gift That Keeps On Taking

Blue Above, Blue green below the view is cut by a line of misty Olympic mountains across the Strait of Juan Da Fuca
Victoria photo by Ash is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
With sun, sea and mild temperatures (usually) Victoria B.C. has all the ingredients — unusual for Canada — to keep house prices high and affordable housing hard to come by.

Five or so years ago, US media stories appeared on a regular basis that touted a clever Internal Revenue Service (IRS) program that purports to ‘give’ rather than ‘take’ from those in need of truly affordable housing. It is the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC, pronounced  ‘lie tech’). The vocal expression of the term ‘lie’ turns out to reflect a gloomy truth.

Five years ago and more, LIHTC created affordable housing, committing builders/owners to build housing and hold it affordable for a number of years. In exchange builders/owners got substantial tax relief. But when initial builder/beneficiaries ‘age out’ of the program, they can hike the rents and chuck out any tenants who can’t afford the rent.

The ‘lie’ implicit in LIHTC was the idea that this tax-break for builders was helping solve America’s exploding affordable housing crisis. It wasn’t. It was just postponing the crunch.

Subsequent tinkering with the LIHTC program extended the date when the poor reached their comeuppance to arrive later. That quelled some of the disquiet about a program that offered a temporary solution to a growing and apparently permanent low income housing crisis by helping builders laugh all the way to the bank.

Waving a sad farewell to this American so-called solution to a housing crisis, shift your attention to the city of Victoria in the Province of British Columbia, where programs as cynical as LIHTC support some of the most vulnerable low-income citizens of all — victims of domestic violence. Unlike American LIHTC programs that play complex financial games with business entities and tenants, a simple, absolute approach is taken to the needs of vulnerable citizens. Housing is offered, but it is transitional (temporary), and well below what is needed at that.

And so arbitrary definitions of the period of care appear to be randomly decided by care providers. At the end of that arbitrary time period, someone else (also a survivor of domestic abuse) gets to move in.

The consequences? Read more on this brutality towards vulnerable people in the Province of British Columbia, in CTVNEWS: Victoria women say transitional housing rule pushed them into homelessness