Vancouver housing report shows progress in some areas, big gaps in others

Apr 5 2019, 11:48 pm

Two years into its Housing Vancouver strategy, the city said it is making steady progress towards delivering 72,000 new housing units by 2027.

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“Overall we’re moving towards the 10-year targets, with approvals and completions for social and supportive housing, family housing, laneways and market condominiums well above the annual targets,” said Gil Kelley, General Manager of Planning, Urban Design, and Sustainability.

In the past two years, a total of 15,404 units have been approved across the city. This includes:

  • 3,640 social and supportive homes
  • 1,300 laneway homes
  • 1,851 purpose-built rental homes
  • 8,338 condominiums
  • 275 townhouses.

Still, areas identified in the report where more focus is required include purpose-built rental for all income levels, and in particular, more housing options for residents earning less than $50,000 per year.

housing plan

Secured market rental housing approvals by income range served, 2018. (City of Vancouver)


housing plan

Condominium and townhouse approvals by income range served, 2018 (City of Vancouver)

The report noted that for purpose-built market rental housing, progress toward affordability targets is determined using certain assumptions:

  • For developer-owned below-market housing, including housing delivered under the Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program, affordability will be based on specified rent levels, which are set to be affordable to singles earning $30,000- $50,000, and families earning $50,000-$80,000, assuming 30% of gross income is spent on rent.
  • For purpose-built market rental housing, affordability is based on assumptions regarding rent levels in newly-constructed rental housing. Studio units are assumed to rent at levels affordable to singles households earning $50,000-$80,000 per year, one bedroom units are assumed to rent singles households earning $50,000-80,000 per year on the eastside and $80,000-$150,000 per year on the west side. Units for families (two-bedroom and three-bedroom) are assumed to be affordable to family households earning $80,000-150,000 per year, assuming 30% of gross income is spent on rent.

And while he said he is “pleased” by what he sees in the report, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said the city needs to “work harder to create more affordable options – especially for minimum and low-wage households.”

In this case, Kelley said some options being considered by the city include looking at how and where to introduce rental-only zoning, working with other levels of government to encourage lower-income rental homes, and “continuing to enhance our rental incentive programs.”

According to the city, Housing Vancouver is the 10-year housing strategy “to foster a diverse, vibrant community.”

The strategy is based on three core principles:

  • Retaining the diversity of incomes in the city;
  • Shifting current housing production toward rental housing in order to meet the greatest need;
  • Setting ambitious targets for housing for very low-income households, which are achievable with coordinated action from the city and partners.
Eric ZimmerEric Zimmer

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