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New approach to explore deeper affordability in new rental apartments

July 23 2017

Mayor Gregor Robertson at a press conference about a proposed pilot project to require 20% of homes in new rental buildings in Oakridge Municipal Town Centre to be long-term affordable

Proposed pilot at Oakridge Municipal Town Centre would require 20% of homes in new rental buildings to be affordable long-term

Mayor Robertson today highlighted a new proposed approach to deliver affordable rental homes for renter households making $30,000-$80,000. The approach would be launched as part of the Cambie Corridor Plan Phase 3 and could require new rental buildings to include minimum 20% of homes designated as long-term affordable. This could yield 1,000 new affordable homes in the Oakridge Municipal Town Centre, as part of the more than 4,000 new affordable (and 11,500 overall) homes projected in the Cambie area by 2041.

"Vancouver doesn't just need supply, it needs the right kind of supply local people on local incomes can afford," says Mayor Gregor Robertson. "The City is doubling down on affordable housing backed by the principle that no one should spend more than 30% of their income on their home. We're putting a big focus on rental housing and prioritizing innovative ideas like this pilot project that will ramp up the City's delivery of affordable housing for renters across the spectrum."

Rents connected to tenant incomes

To guarantee affordability – benchmarked by the City at no more than 30% of household income spent on housing – rents will be directly connected to tenants' incomes, between $30,000 and $80,000 per year. We are currently analysing feasibility of this approach. We estimate that rents for the new, mandated affordable rental homes could range from:

  • $850 to $1,000 for a studio
  • $1,250 to $1,500 for a one-bedroom
  • $1,700 to $2,100 for a two-bedroom

In exchange for the long-term affordability through a housing agreement, developers may be allowed extra density, parking relaxations, or Development Cost Levy waivers.

Part of the Housing Vancouver Strategy

The new approach is part of our update to the Housing Vancouver Strategy – our new way to deliver the right supply of housing to match local needs and incomes – being presented to Council on Tuesday. We are exploring developing a new pilot program to expand this approach, and if successful, the pilot could be expanded city-wide to provide potentially thousands more mandated affordable rental homes.

This fall, Council will be making final decisions at a public hearing about short-term rental regulations and zoning changes to allow more density on single-family lots across the city in exchange for character retention.

Housing Vancouver is a culmination of several initiatives from the City that tackles the housing affordability crisis, including:

  1. Resetting housing targets to be geared to income bands, to deliver a more appropriate supply of housing that meets local needs and incomes
  2. Investing $80M in the 2017 Capital Plan for affordable housing – the most ever
  3. Approving a record number of new rental homes
  4. Bringing in Canada's first Empty Homes Tax
  5. Proposing regulating short-term rentals, like Airbnb
  6. Pursuing modular housing on city-owned sites
  7. Offering 20 sites of City-owned land worth $250 million to senior governments to use for affordable housing
  8. Increasing family home requirements in new housing projects to 35%
  9. Providing four City-owned sites to enable Vancouver's first Community Land Trust