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Vancouver's Housing and Homelessness Strategy, 2012-2021

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A home for everyone

Council has committed to ending street homelessness, while increasing affordable housing choices for all residents.

This includes creating more housing that is accessible, affordable, and suitable for seniors, families, and people challenged by disabilities - regardless of income level.

The Housing and Homelessness Strategy lays out the City's overall direction for housing, including what we need, and how we will achieve it over the next ten years.

The strategy identifies the different kinds of housing necessary to meet the needs of all our residents, as well as ways to improve and preserve the housing we already have.

Read about this initiative in-depth

Related projects

Advisory boards and committees

Progress with this initiative

2014 progress update on the Housing Strategy

May 26, 2015 - Through policies and partnerships, the City has leveraged almost 10,000 new units of housing geared to low and middle income households, ranging from social and supportive housing, to new laneway, secondary suite, and market rental homes.

Changes in low-income housing

April 16, 2014 - Staff updated Council on challenges with low-income housing during 2013.

New fire hall to include 31 units of non-market housing

December 18, 2013 – Council appointed the YWCA Metro Vancouver as a lease holder for 31 units of non-market rental housing as part of the new Fire Hall No. 5 building. Low- to moderate-income single mothers and their children will live in the units once they are completed. Using civic land and facilities to encourage partnerships in non-market housing is a Council priority and part of the larger Housing and Homelessness Strategy 2012-2021.

2013 actions toward ending homelessness

October 8, 2013 – The General Manager of Community Services and the Assistant Director of Housing Policy presented 2013 homeless count data, along with details of the 2013/2014 temporary winter shelter and interim housing strategy.

Four new winter response shelters announced

October 24, 2012 – The Mayor and Premier announce that the City and Province will open four temporary winter response shelters to meet the needs of people living on the streets during the cold and wet weather season.

The winter response shelters will provide more than 160 spaces for homeless people from the beginning of December 2012 to the end of May 2013.

Mayor's Task Force on Housing Affordability releases final report

October 4, 2012 – The Mayor's Task Force on Housing Affordability presented their final report to Council on 3 October and 4 October, 2012. Task Force recommendations provide a framework for progress, delivering a set of bold and pragmatic actions to confront out city's lack of affordability. Council directed staff to implement the Task Force's action plan with revisions to Actions 1, 2, 3, and 13.

Interim Rezoning Policy approved by Council

October 3, 2012 – City Council approved an Interim Rezoning Policy for Affordable Housing, aimed at encouraging innovation and enabling real examples of ground-oriented affordable housing types. These will be tested for potential wider application in order to provide ongoing affordable housing opportunities.

More Homes, More Affordability program launched

August 9, 2012 – The City is seeking proposals to build an estimated 500 new units of affordable housing on six City-owned sites, as part of the new "More Homes, More Affordability" program. This program will use partnerships to build below-market housing, which will then be operated through long-term leases with the City.

re:THINK winners announced

July 30, 2012 – re:THINK winners were announced at a free event on Monday, July 30 at VanDusen Botanical Garden.  The City received almost 70 ideas and 8,000 votes. Winning entries will be submitted to the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability, and will be included in the final report to Vancouver City Council. Spacing Magazine will also publish the winning entries in their Fall 2012 national edition.

re:THINK Reveal

July 5, 2012 – The City unveiled the "Re:THINK Housing" competition entries, during a short program hosted by CBC Radio One's Shiral Tobin at the Roundhouse Community Centre.

"re:THINK HOUSING" open ideas competition launched

June 28, 2012 – As part of the work being done by the Mayor's Task Force on Housing Affordability, the City has launched an open ideas competition. Aimed at anyone who is interested in affordable housing, the competition is designed to generate a broader discussion of possibilities for Vancouver's housing crisis.

Rental 100: Secured Market Rental Housing Policy

May 15, 2012 – Council approved the Secured Market Rental Housing Policy, which will encourage new secured purpose-built rental housing, and builds on the lessons learned from the STIR (Short Term Incentives for Rental) pilot program.

Task Force on Housing Affordability releases initial recommendations

March 12, 2012 – The Mayor's Task Force on Housing Affordability released its initial recommendations, which include a list of Quick Actions for the City:

  • Fast track applications
  • Use inclusionary zoning
  • Leverage City assets
  • Wield influence

Read the Task Force progress report

The Housing and Homelessness Strategy three-year plan is released

28 July 28, 2011 – The Housing and Homelessness Strategy is being implemented in 3-year "action plans," tied to capital planning. The first 3-year plan, which covers 2012-2014, is now being implemented.

Key actions of this plan include:

  • Complete all 14 supportive housing sites across the city, and ensure they can be accessed by local homeless
  • Enhance an ongoing incentive program to provide more secure market rental units throughout the city
  • Protect, update, and enhance existing single room occupancy hotels, supportive, social, and purpose-built rental housing
  • Ensure shelters, support, and social housing are located in neighbourhoods where they are most needed
  • Improve the quality of existing services for the homeless and specific vulnerable populations

Download the three-year plan

Council presentations

During the course of developing this strategy, staff planners gave Council two presentations: a preliminary report, and their final recommendations. Here are their presentations:

Report cards on strategy targets

Final reports

Public involvement

In the spring of 2011, planning staff conducted the "Talk Housing with Us" engagement program.

This program gave housing stakeholders, experts, and interested community members the opportunity to present ideas, seek advice, and engage with one another to find solutions to the challenges of housing affordability and homelessness.

Over 400 people participated in the workshops, meetings, and roundtables. In addition, 2,400 people visited the related online discussion forum.

Here are some of the key documents from this process:

Background research

Here are some of the key research documents planning staff used when creating the overall housing strategy:

How the City will achieve the goals of this initiative

The Housing and Homelessness Strategy lays out the City's overall direction for housing for the next 10 years.

The strategy will be implemented through a series of 3-year action plans that will correspond to the City's capital plan cycle.

Here are the strategic directions for the first 3-year plan, from 2012-2014:

Strategic direction #1

Increase the supply of affordable housing.

Related priority actions

  1. Optimize the City's use of land, capital grants, incentives, and other resources to leverage and support housing partnerships.
  2. Refine and develop new zoning approaches, development tools, and rental incentives.
  3. Pursue a new business model to enhance affordable housing delivery.

Strategic direction #2

Encourage a housing mix across all neighbourhoods that enhances quality of life.

Related priority actions

  1. Protect the existing rental stock.
  2. Target low barrier shelter, supportive, and social housing.

Strategic direction #3

Provide strong leadership, and support partners to enhance housing stability.

Related priority actions

  1. Enhance support to renters.
  2. Strengthen the focus of the Urban Health Initiative on homelessness.
  3. Demonstrate leadership in research and innovation to create improved housing options for our diverse population.
  4. Focus efforts with partners on preventing and eliminating homelessness.

How staff will measure progress

Staff will establish baselines to measure and evaluate progress, and to help fine-tune priority actions, or shift focus, as necessary. A report card will be presented to Council each year to track progress.


The 2021 targets for the Housing and Homelessness strategy include:

  • 2,900 new supportive housing units
  • 5,000 additional new social housing units
  • 11,000 new market rental housing units
  • 20,000 market ownership units

Work leading up to this initiative

Before the start of this initiative in 2011, the City had already made significant advances in the efforts to end homelessness and provide affordable housing for all.

Here are some key accomplishments since 2009:

  • Increased shelter capacity during winter months
  • Funded the renovation of 200 units to reduce street homelessness
  • Secured capital funding from the Province for 1,500 supportive housing sites on 14 City-owned property
  • Mobilized the community to provide better support to the homeless
  • Launched the Urban Health Initiative, which focuses on issues such as care in low-barrier shelters, hoarding, mental health training for frontline staff, and food initiatives
  • Developed the Short-Term Incentive for Rental (STIR) program, which encourages the development of new market rental housing
  • Enabled the development of 750 new secondary suites and laneway housing units
  • Rezoned the Cambie Corridor to require 20% affordable market housing on sites targeted for rental housing

Housing and Homeless Strategy 2012-2021 (3.02 MB)

Read the complete Housing and Homelessness Strategy, and learn how Council is ending street homelessness while providing affordable housing for all residents.

Mayor's Task Force on Housing Affordability

The Task Force recommended bold and practical ways to improve housing affordability for low- to moderate-income households.

Housing and Homeless Strategy 2012-2021Affordable Housing Choices PolicyRental standards databaseWinter Response Shelter Strategy