$4 Metro Vancouver tax could help fund hundreds of affordable homes: report

Sep 6 2019, 4:46 pm

An annual tax of $4 on each household in Metro Vancouver could help fund hundreds of new affordable housing units in the region, according to a new report.

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The report comes after Metro Vancouver Regional District approved the 2019- 2022 Board Strategic Plan, outlining strategic directions for each of the organization’s functions, earlier this summer.

According to the report, the housing committee took part in a workshop in early July to explore key issues and opportunities for the creation of the plan.

Among the topics discussed was consideration of a new tax to support new development of affordable housing.

The report noted that the majority of the region’s housing stock was developed in the 1970s and 1980s through federal funding programs, while the remainder was developed through subsequent housing programs.

Currently, the regional district’s housing portfolio includes 49 sites spread throughout 11 municipalities, but “limited government funding over the past 20 years has meant that little affordable rental housing has been built, by Metro Vancouver Housing or other housing providers.”

This, combined with steady regional growth and rising house prices, “has led to a significant demand for affordable rental housing across the region,” the report said.

And while both the provincial and federal governments made commitments to affordable housing in 2016, “years of backlog will require a significant amount of new affordable rental housing to meet demand.”

At the same time, “our buildings are aging and in need of ongoing capital maintenance and renewal,” and “much of our existing funds will need to be invested in renewing and maintaining existing housing, rather than creating new housing,” the report said.

As such, the report proposes that “to support the necessary MVHC equity contribution towards new development projects on member jurisdiction lands, one option is to use the MVRD authority to raise money through the Affordable Housing function.”

And according to the report, “a new annual requisition of $4.0M is anticipated to provide sufficient equity.”

Broken down by household, “this requisition would have a regional impact of approximately $4 per household.”

With an additional $4 million in annual revenue, raised through the regional district’s tax requisition dedicated to the construction of housing on member-owned land leased to MVHC at a nominal cost, “it is estimated that Metro Vancouver Housing can develop 500 new units of affordable housing on municipal lands over the next ten years,” the report says.

It notes that if the approach was supported by the board, it would enable Metro Vancouver to “immediately take advantage of opportunities to partner with member jurisdictions in the development of new affordable housing across the region.”

A discussion on the recommendations is scheduled to take place on September 11, but the tax would still need approval from the regional board before being implemented.

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