The City of Vancouver is looking toward building a website where neighbours can report vacant homes in their area.
Mukhtar Latif, Chief Housing Officer for the City, delivered a memo to the Mayor and Council on April 20 proposing a new framework to identify how many vacant homes are in Vancouver and where they are located.
The action is a response to the ongoing issue of homes and properties left unattended throughout the City, most notably on the West Side and in high rise condominiums Downtown.
“There is significant public interest in the issue of homes being left vacant given affordability challenges across the housing continuum and very low rental vacancy rates together with the potential impact on vibrancy of neighbourhoods,” Latif states in the memo.
The Chief Housing Officer also details the known reasons for why homes may be vacant, including development timing, property is in the process of being sold or rented, property is being renovated, property is being “flipped”, domestic investment property, international investment property, probate, part-time living or that the owner is in hospital.
Citing that the most recent studies on vacant homes apply only to condominiums, Latif and his department plan on utilizing BC Hydro, the 2011 National Household Survey and the public to identify the exact number of vacant single-family homes, length of time the properties are left vacant and reasons for why they’re empty – all through the use of a public data website.
“We are also working with City of Vancouver Communications and 311, and with community groups to develop a digital site where the public can report vacant homes in a coherent fashion, thus allowing us to potentially match it up with BC Hydro data,” the memo reads.
There is no word on the project’s next steps, but the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency is accepting proposals from consultants on how to assist with their investigation into the empty home problem.