Ensuring greater accessibility in public housing

Released: Wednesday, June 2, 2021 11:30 AM

The Province, through BC Housing, has partnered with the SAFERhome Standards Society to create a new certification program that will improve liveability and accessibility in existing and future public-housing buildings.

“Everyone, regardless of their age, size, ability or mobility, should be able to live comfortably in their homes, without barriers,” said Dan Coulter, Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility, on behalf of David Eby, Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Housing. “With this partnership, we’re making sure we’re building homes that work for everyone and proving it’s possible for all developers, public and private, to do the same. This is a necessary step to ensure that homes meet people’s needs, now and into the future.”

The SAFERhome Certification Program will support a review of all BC Housing units built since 2019 to ensure they are either accessible or can be renovated easily to improve accessibility with minimal costs. Approximately 2,000 existing units and 8,000 new units soon to be completed will be inspected and potentially certified. Certified homes will be added to a public registry managed by the SAFERhomes Standards Society.

The SAFERhome Standards Society, a non-profit, public-interest organization, will operate the new program. The society encourages safer home environments and a better standard of living for all people through its certified building standards and training programs. Certification will be given to homes that meet SAFERhome’s standards. These include universal design elements, such as standard light switch and door handle heights, wider hallways, consistent shower and bath control positioning, and reinforced walls.

“BC Housing is leading the country when it comes to incorporating universal design into their housing,” said Colin Doylen, board director, SAFERhome Standards Society. “They are future-proofing homes by including SAFERhome standards into their building and design guidelines. This proactive and inexpensive approach to housing represents a new model for future home design that meets the needs of British Columbians, from young children to grandparents, to live a safe and supportive lifestyle.

The program will employ graduates of the Rick Hansen Professional Access Consultant Program as inspectors. They will receive training through the SAFERhome training program.

The inspection and certification process will begin in June 2021 and is expected to be completed by spring 2022.

Quick Facts:

  • The Province is providing a grant of $75,000 to the SAFERhome Standards Society to support inspection and certification costs.
  • In 2019, BC Housing updated its design guidelines to make sure all new public housing can be altered to improve liveability and accessibility and meet the needs of all future residents.
  • The 2019 BC Housing Design Guidelines and Construction Standards applies to all affordable housing projects whose capital budgets are funded by BC Housing, regardless of project type.

Learn More:

Information about the 2019 BC Housing Design Guidelines and Construction Standards is available on the BC Housing website:

Learn more about SAFERhome Standards Society: https://saferhomestandards.com/

A map showing the location of all announced provincially funded housing projects in B.C. is  available online: https://www.bchousing.org/homes-for-BC

To learn about the steps the Province is taking to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable homes for British Columbians, visit: https://workingforyou.gov.bc.ca/