Hootsuite executive says Vancouver needs more rental housing to attract top tech talent

Jul 13 2019, 3:15 am

The availability of housing is an overwhelming obstacle for the true potential of Vancouver’s growing tech industry, according to Hootsuite vice-president Stefan Krepiakevich.

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Last week, he spoke at the public hearing for the 121 market rental homes proposed for the site at 3833 Fraser Street, which was ultimately approved by city council in a 7-3 vote.

“What is it like to run a business in Vancouver and attract top talent like engineers, sales people, and marketers to a city where they can’t afford to rent apartments?” Krepiakevich told council, setting the stage for the business community’s perspective.

“It is very hard as a technology company to attract and keep top talent and grow a business in Vancouver… As a city, we need to be increasing the supply of rental units so that a city like ours can grow, foster, and build great companies that have high paying jobs that can support families.”

Krepiakevich says a typical salary at Hootsuite allows its workers to live in market-priced rental homes, with software engineers and developers seeing a salary range starting at $80,000, growing higher based on skillset and experience.

3811-3833 Fraser Street Vancouver

Artistic rendering of 3811-3833 Fraser Street, Vancouver. (Integra Architecture / Strand Development)

“These workers would 100% be able to rent in this development, but they won’t be able to buy in the market. They can’t come to a city and afford a $1 million condo or $1.5 million house. But they can afford $2,000 in rent, that is for sure,” he added, emphasizing that workers would be able to pay for the rents at this particular building.

“I would love to bring more people to this city. I would love for great, smart, and innovative people to come to Vancouver, but they just can’t afford to live here. And if they can’t afford to live here, then we’re not going to create great companies in this city.”

Krepiakevich also said he is seeing many people come to open houses for rental homes and “willing to pay incredible amounts of money to live close to the city.”

He made the following assertion: “You just need to increase the supply, that is the bottom line. There needs to be more rental units available… You’re going to have companies moving to other cities if you don’t increase the availability and supply of rental homes close to the city.”

Hootsuite, one of the Vancouver tech industry’s anchor companies, currently employs approximately 600 people in the city.

As of last fall, Vancouver’s rental vacancy rate was 0.8%, which means only eight out of every 1,000 markets were empty and available for rent. The lack of supply causes an upward shift in rental rates, severely contributing to the housing affordability issue.

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