Module 2: How Housing Works in BC
What types of housing are there?
At its most basic, the housing system consists of two main categories: ownership and rental.
The focus of this module is rental housing.
Rental Housing: Market, Non-Profit, and Subsidized
Rental housing in BC can be divided into three main categories.
Market housing makes up the majority of rental units. This type of housing is privately owned by an individual or company, and they decide how much to charge for rent. Often they set the rent as high as they can get in order to maximize their profits.
Non-profit housing offers more affordable rents, usually charging just what is needed to cover maintenance and possible future repairs. Housing co-ops are a form of non-profit housing where members are expected to work together to manage and take care of their homes in order to keep rents down.
Subsidized housing usually has even lower rents, because part or all of the rent is paid by the government or another organization. This type of housing is provided for people with low incomes. A whole building can be subsidized, or only certain units in the building. There are also subsidies that aren’t tied to a building or unit but to an individual, which are called rental supplements or portable subsidies—in this case, if people move, the subsidy can move with them.
Check out this graphic to learn more about the types of rental housing in BC!
Subsidized Housing: Supportive, Assisted Living, Transitional, and HIV-Specific
Some types of subsidized housing are designed to meet particular needs.
Supportive housing is for people who need some assistance in order to avoid homelessness and live independently. On-site staff or outreach programs are available to provide support with issues related to housing and health.
Assisted living is a more extensive version of supportive housing for people with health challenges that get in the way of daily living. On-site staff regularly interact with residents and provide food and cleaning services, as well as help with medication and personal tasks such as bathing.
Transitional housing provides increasing levels of housing stability, with the aim of helping people move on to long-term, permanent housing. Transitional housing situations last anywhere from one month to three years. People new to BC, or people who want to discontinue their substance use, move from residential treatment to transitional housing before going into a market rental or subsidized unit.
HIV-specific housing. Some BC communities have subsidized housing specifically for people living with HIV, or units within rental buildings that are set aside for people with HIV.