6 ways to address the housing crisis: the City of Vancouver resets its housing strategy

Jun 16 2017, 12:43 am

We all know that Vancouver is in the midst of a housing crisis as serious affordability challenges are affecting all types of households across the city. The City of Vancouver has realized it needs to do more to help residents so they are taking action and creating a new housing strategy to meet the needs and incomes of the people who live and work in Vancouver.

Based on extensive research over the last year, the city has identified six new ways to improve housing in Vancouver, and is now seeking public feedback on the proposed plans.

Create more of the right type of housing based on what people can afford 

Family at home in kitchen /City of Vancouver

To keep families, young people, workers, and seniors in Vancouver, the city wants to focus on building new homes to match what residents need and with pricing based on what they can afford.

New homes will be built in the right locations throughout the city, close to transit, school and amenities such as shopping centres, community centre, and parks. As well, the Rental 100 incentive program, which encourages developers to create buildings where 100% of the suites are rentals, will be expanded to provide more rental homes including rental homes priced for local residents.

Provide a diversity of housing in neighbourhoods across the city

To increase the availability of housing in Vancouver, the city is looking at new types of housing for family neighbourhoods – such as rowhouses, townhomes, duplexes, high and mid-rise apartments, and laneway and coach homes. This will help families at every stage of life, and across different income levels to find the housing they need.

Ensure a healthy rental market through renter security and protection

With a less than a 1% rental vacancy rate, Vancouver’s renters are struggling to find the homes they need. The city is exploring new tools and incentives to bring down the cost of new rental housing and to increase availability of permanent rental homes, as well as encouraging landlords to reinvest in and maintain their existing rental apartments. The city will continue to both advocate for stronger provincial renter protections and assist renters who have had to move due to redevelopment.

Provide city-owned land to build new rental housing

The city continues to work with the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency (VAHA) to create 1,000 affordable rental homes on eight city-owned properties, in addition to another 3,800 homes rental homes on an another six major city-owned properties. As part of the new housing strategy, the city will continue to look for sites for innovative housing like Vancouver’s first modular housing development at 220 Terminal Avenue, which currently provides interim homes for 40 residents on low and fixed-income.

The contribution of city-owned land offsets the high cost of acquiring land for new rental building developments, which is often a major barrier to creating housing in our city. However, further support from senior levels of government is needed to assist in actually building new rental housing.

Prioritize delivery of projects designed to provide affordable rental homes 

Men at home in kitchen/City of Vancouver

To provide more affordable rental housing and social housing faster, the city is launching a one-year pilot program to speed-up permit approval times for buildings that include below-market affordable rental housing.

Prevent, support, and increase pathways out of homelessness

The city shares responsibility and leadership in reducing homelessness. Recent partnerships with other municipalities in the region have allowed the city to expand support and services to help our most vulnerable residents access and maintain stable housing. An immediate focus is on single room occupancy (SRO) hotel conditions, and working with the Metro region to develop a homelessness action plan. Senior levels of governments, including the federal, provincial, and regional governments continue to be essential partners in sharing the responsibility to address homelessness.

What’s next?

From now until June 23, the city is collecting feedback from residents about the recently proposed priorities and actions to address Vancouver’s housing affordability crisis.

Learn more about the proposed plans and complete the online housing questionnaire by visiting vancouver.ca/housing.

Residents can also register to attend the below discussion event on June 17.

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