NewsMLA Leonard, Mayor Wells respond to “affordable” housing criticism SHARE ON: Jon Gauthier, staff Wednesday, Feb. 5th, 2020 Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard and Courtney Mayor Bob Wells respond to criticism from residents of the Comox Valley,(Vista Radio Stock Image)A large number of Comox Valley residents aren’t happy with an “affordable” housing development.The province recently announced that 56 rental units will be built at 621 Crown Isle Boulevard.They’re priced for people with a household income between $48,000 and $74,000, with rent capping at 30 percent of income.Many in the area have taken to social media to say this is not “affordable” housing in any way.“Not exactly affordable housing for those whose incomes are less than $30,000 and truly need help,” wrote one person on the MyComoxValleyNow.com Facebook page.Others said the homes “don’t match up with local paycheques for the majority who need housing.”Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells says the focus of the project isn’t to address the affordability problem in the valley, but rather to provide more options for people in that middle-income bracket.“At the end of the day, the two biggest issues we have in the Comox Valley are affordable housing and housing availability. When we talk about this Housing Hub project it really is shooting for that availability. For people who are professionals who are making a larger wage to be able to find something, it is still difficult. I think that’s really what this is trying to accomplish in getting that middle-market looked after,” says Wells.Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard echoed that statement explaining that the new project will help address a specific need in Courtenay.“The purpose of these particular rentals is to be 30 percent of income and that’s the cut off for what is considered to be affordable. So folks who are in decent-paying jobs, have families, are often paying 50,60,70 percent of their earnings to housing and this is going to bring things back into line so that they can have lives with their families,” says Leonard.She added that the lack of supply is the reason rent prices are higher than what people would like to see.“It’s a clear lack of supply that is driving up the cost of rents and introducing more rental housing in this market is really a key piece to being successful in providing affordable housing.”The province says construction is expected to start next month on the 56 rental homes in Courtenay’s Crown Isle neighbourhood thanks to a partnership with WestUrban Developments.The project is also built through BC Housing’s HousingHub, which works with local communities, governments, non-profit and private-sector partners to help create new affordable rental housing and homeownership options for middle-income individuals and families.