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City opens 135 new affordable housing geared towards families

February 2 2018

"This type of family-oriented co-op housing in Olympic Village helps us tackle Vancouver's affordability crisis, especially for families struggling to find long-term rental homes within their means."

Buildings downtown Southeast False Creek

Families seeking affordable housing in Vancouver will now have access to Railyard Housing Co-op, a below-market building in Southeast False Creek with 135 affordable homes.

Railyard Housing Co-op was developed by Concert Properties as part of the 6.4 acre Southeast False Creek site called The Creek. The City has selected the Community Land Trust to operate the building. Featuring 135 units, 54 percent are targeted towards families with children: 44 two bedroom and 29 three bedroom suites. Two in-home childcare units will also be included.

"This project is a great example of how the City of Vancouver, the private sector, and non-profits are working together to build more affordable rental housing for people who live and work in Vancouver," said Mayor Gregor Robertson. "This type of family-oriented co-op housing in Olympic Village helps us tackle Vancouver's affordability crisis, especially for families struggling to find long-term rental homes within their means. No city is doing more than Vancouver to get new affordable housing built, and I'm hopeful that with a B.C. and federal government recommitted to housing, we will see thousands of new co-op and rental homes built in the years to come."

Breakdown of units

The breakdown of units in the building includes:

  • 10 units rented at Income Assistance rates to residents participating in the STEP (Supporting Tenants, Enabling Pathways) pilot program, which provides tenants who no longer require supports with the option to move into social housing. This results in vacancies in supportive housing buildings for residents who require high levels of support.
  • 54 units available at rent geared to 30 percent of income for people who earn up to the Housing Income Limits.
  • 71 units rented at the low end of market rent, but must not exceed 90 percent of market rent and 30 percent of BC Housing's moderate income limits.

"We are thrilled to be partnering with the City and Concert Properties to offer so many affordable homes to families in the Southeast False Creek community," said Thom Armstrong, executive director of the Community Land Trust. "The community land trust model is an ideal fit with the City's new Housing Vancouver strategy, and we look forward to our next opportunity to work together."

Larger master-plan community: The Creek

This new below-market building is part of a larger master-plan community being developed by Concert Properties called The Creek, which also includes four market housing buildings containing approximately 450 suites.

The building is targeting LEED Gold certification based on 40 percent reduction in energy consumption, and is connected to the City's Neighborhood Energy Utility that supplies heating energy from sewer heat recovery, resulting in lower greenhouse gas emissions.

"As a company who has been committed to building strong, sustainable communities across Canada since 1989, we are proud to deliver the City this much needed affordable rental housing" said Brian McCauley, Concert President and Chief Executive Officer. "This project demonstrates how developers can be a valued government partner and affordable housing solution provider."

Our housing targets

The City's new Housing Vancouver strategy proposes a significant increase in housing supply in Vancouver: 72,000 new homes over 10 years, with two-thirds of those homes to be rental. In terms of the 10-year targets:

  • 50 percent of new homes will serve households earning less than $80,000 annually
  • 40 percent of new homes will be for families
  • 12,000 will be social, supportive and non-profit co-operative homes and, of those, 4,100 will have supports
  • 20,000 will be secure, long-term market rental homes
  • 4,000 new laneway homes will provide ground level homes for couples and families
  • More ownership options will be available for first time homebuyers, families, and downsizing seniors

Three-year action plan

Actions set out in the City's new Housing Vancouver strategy will not only continue to increase the overall number of rental homes, but also includes actions over the next three years to create more protections for current renters in our city. Those actions include:

  • Providing a dedicated Renter Protection Manager within the City to support renters during renovations and redevelopments of existing rental housing, and improve internal City coordination on redevelopment applications involving existing renters.
  • Reviewing current zoning and development bylaws to support shared living arrangements while ensuring safety and livability standards.
  • Implementing a Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program, which will incentivize the development of 100 per cent rental buildings where at least 20 per cent of the residential portion of the building is permanently affordable for households with moderate incomes earning between $30,000 and $80,000 annually. This program is already underway and will deliver up to 20 rezoning applications by July 2019. City staff will report back to Council on this program with lessons learned and recommendations for future programs to encourage the construction of moderate income rental housing.
  • Launching a new Social Purpose Real Estate Incentive Program, to support non-profits and co-ops who own their land and buildings to redevelop and expand affordable housing. This program will also build on the successful redevelopments seen in the last year with the Lutheran, United and First Baptist Churches, with the City providing additional density, per door grant funding and other incentives to affordable housing providers, churches and other non-profits to redevelop their sites and deliver new affordable housing.

The City is also proposing a request to the province for authority to create "Rental Only Zones," as well as creating opportunities for density bonusing, rather than lengthy rezoning processes, to support faster delivery of new rental housing buildings.

These steps build on the City's recent initiatives to assist renters, including Canada's first Empty Homes Tax, to discourage speculation and incentivize empty units to be rented; and new regulations for short-term rentals, to increase rental supply and protect secondary suites and laneway houses for long-term rental.

Learn more about Housing Vancouver