New data that looks at the housing situation in the City of Vancouver is set to be presented to city council on Tuesday, as part of what’s known as the Housing Vancouver Progress Report.
“Vancouver is in the midst of a housing crisis, with serious impacts on residents and the city’s health, diversity, and vibrancy,” reads the report.
The report says that in the last decade, housing prices in the city have “far outpaced growth in local incomes,” with composite prices in East Vancouver seeing increases of 141%, and 121% on the city’s west side, while median household incomes increases totalled under 40% between 2005 and 2015.
Today, the city’s residential property market “continues to be highly active, with benchmark ownership housing prices increasing at a rate of 20% in Vancouver Eastside between 2016 and 2017.”
Affordability is contributing to severe challenges for vulnerable residents, the report said.
The city’s population of unsheltered homeless residents increased by 22% (122 people) and the population of sheltered homeless residents decreased by 5% (79 people) between 2017 and 2018, with seniors, Indigenous people, and youth overrepresented among homeless residents compared to their share of the overall population.
Rental options remain low
At the same time, it notes, rental vacancy rates in purpose-built rental housing remain extremely low (0.9% in 2017 city-wide) and rents continue to grow at a higher rate than the allowable maximum rate set by the provincial government.
The report also highlights evidence of changes in the income distribution in Vancouver that “may suggest loss of renter households at the lower end of the income spectrum.”
The share of renter households earning below $30,000/year fell from 34% in 2005 to 28% in 2015, while the share of renter households earning over $80,000/year increased from 13% to 28% in the same period.
This despite the fact that between 2013 and 2017, Vancouver saw the highest amount of new rental unit construction out of any major city in Canada.
A 10-year plan
In light of these findings, the City said the Housing Vancouver strategy is a 10-year plan to foster a diverse and vibrant city.
The strategy is based on three core principles: create the “right supply” while addressing speculative demand; retain the existing rental stock; and ensure support for vulnerable residents. These principles are enacted through new targets for housing to “meet the needs of Vancouverites of all incomes,” as well as a three-year action plan, which includes over 110 actions.
The report also noted that Housing Vancouver targets “indicate the amount and affordability of new housing required in the next 10 years to ensure a diversity of incomes and household types in the city.”
These targets, it adds, “were set based on a number of factors, including building typology, incomes served, unit types (ex. number of bedrooms), and household tenures to ensure new housing being delivered is the “right supply” that meets the needs of current and future Vancouver residents.”
Of the 72,000 new homes anticipated as part of the new targets, 50% are targeted to serve households earning less than $80,000/year, two-thirds will be available for renters, and 40% will be family sized units.
“We’re playing catch-up for many years where very little new affordable housing was built,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.