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City approves plans to transform how affordable housing is delivered across Vancouver

June 21 2018

“We’re dramatically ramping up the right supply of new homes for Vancouver residents, building more rental options for households with moderate incomes, creating more family-sized homes, and providing more social housing for low-income residents.”

West End apartments

Yesterday Council approved the creation of a $2-billion Vancouver Affordable Housing Endowment Fund, which will have a clear mandate to preserve and grow affordable housing in the city.

The Fund will be a consolidated portfolio containing city-owned land and owned and/or operated buildings and assets, with an assessed value of over $2-billion. It will focus on delivering the Housing Vancouver targets of 72,000 new homes over the next ten years, with an emphasis on 12,000 social, supportive and co-operative housing for lower and middle income households.

“Vancouver is leading the country in building new rental housing, and today’s approval of the Vancouver Affordable Housing Endowment Fund and Financial Strategy will accelerate our efforts to create more affordable housing for people who live and work in Vancouver,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “We’re dramatically ramping up the right supply of new homes for Vancouver residents, building more rental options for households with moderate incomes, creating more family-sized homes, and providing more social housing for low-income residents.”

The Fund is part of a newly approved financial strategy that will take five approaches to deliver much needed affordable, social and supportive housing in the city. 

  • Continue to secure social housing through inclusionary housing policies
  • Acquire new housing sites to sustainably deliver future homes
  • Increase the social housing requirement on large sites from 20% to 30% (consisting of 20% social housing, and 10% moderate income rental housing for households that earn between $30,000 and $80,000)
  • Support non-profit housing societies by enabling non-profit ownership of social housing  in the Downtown Eastside, and create the Social Purpose Real Estate Program to develop incentives for non-profit housing, faith-based and other charitable organizations
  • Pursue a multi-year partnership and investment plan with senior levels of government to deploy city land for use in building affordable housing

“This fund will allow the City to deliver the maximum amount of non-market housing for residents by leveraging the assets we currently own,” says Gil Kelley, General Manager of Planning, Urban Design, and Sustainability. “Combining these assets will significantly enhance our ability to deliver on Housing Vancouver targets, acquire new housing sites, increase support for social and non-profit housing, and better align with housing partners and senior levels of government.”

Housing Vancouver progress report

A Housing Vancouver update presented to City Council shows that Vancouver is leading the region in the creation of rental and social housing. Six months after the launch of the ambitious strategy, the City is on track to deliver 72,000 new homes over the next ten years.

With an emphasis on creating more of the right kind of homes for residents, the city approved over 7,100 units in 2017, including:

  • 1702 social and supportive homes
  • 822 purpose-built rental units
  • 591 laneway rental homes
  • 3827 condominiums
  • 189 townhouses

To ensure new rental housing continues to be created to meet the Housing Vancouver targets, and accommodate the city’s majority share of renter households (53 percent), approved new measures include:

  • Using our new authority from the Province to zone for rental only area as a means to allow additional density for rental housing
  • Removing the 20 project limit under the existing Affordable Housing Choices Interim Rezoning Policy for rental projects to encourage additional rental developments
  • In order to track the progress of Housing Vancouver over the next 10 years, City staff have developed the Housing Vancouver Annual Progress Report and Data Book. This progress report establishes benchmarks to measure how the city is performing on key housing affordability outcome measures, and provides a summary of implementation actions already underway. The accompanying Data Book provides a comprehensive resource on data and indicators related to housing demand, supply, and affordability in Vancouver. The annual Progress Report and Data Book will be presented to City Council each spring.

2017 Highlights

Additional highlights from the past six months include:

  • Approval of Cambie Corridor Phase 3, which will deliver 32,000 homes to be built, including 5,400 rental homes and 2,800 units of social housing. It will enable 4,200 homes over the next ten years, comprised of rental housing, townhomes and condominiums. 1,000 of these units will be slated for below-market rental or social housing.  
  • Expanded protection against the loss of rental units through an updated Rental Housing Stock Official Development Plan, which protects approximately 53,000 units of market rental housing in multi-family areas across the city.
  • The Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program, which is supporting the development of rental units for individuals and families earning between $30,000 and $80,000 annually. The City is currently reviewing 20 proposals for new rental projects that are anticipated to deliver up to 3,000 rental homes, 20% of which would be targeted to households with moderate incomes. 
  • The Empty Homes Tax, the first of its kind in North America, will generate an estimated $30 million in revenue. The City has collected $18 million to date, and after first-year project and operating costs are deducted there is currently $8 million available to allocate to affordable housing initiatives.
  • Over 1,100 short-term rental business licences have been issued, with 400 short-term listings either converted to long-term rental units or delisted in the first six weeks of the City’s short-term rental regulations being enacted.
  • Opening more than 280 permanent social and supportive housing units in 2018, with nearly 620 more units expected to open this year.
  • As part of a $66 million commitment by the BC government to build 600 units of temporary modular housing in Vancouver, over 500 temporary modular homes on eight sites are at various stages of development. 156 homes are already occupied.

Background

Housing Vancouver is the 10-year housing strategy for the City of Vancouver to foster a diverse, vibrant community. The strategy is based on 3 core principles: creating more of the right supply of housing that is affordable for people who live and work in Vancouver; protecting our existing affordable housing into the future; and ensuring support for vulnerable residents.

These principles are enacted through housing targets designed to meet the needs of Vancouverites of all incomes, with a 3-year action plan that includes over 110 actions. 

Key priorities

  • Creating 72,000 housing units over the next 10 years to shift to the “right supply”
  • Prioritizing the creation of rental housing to meet the greatest need. Two-thirds of new homes will be rental, with 20,000 purpose-built market rental units over the next 10 years
  • Seeking to retain housing diversity, with nearly 50% of homes for households earning less than $80,000 per year
  • Setting the ambitious target of 12,000 social and supportive housing units, to respond to households with a range of incomes, including very low incomes or those who are at risk of homelessness
  • Putting an emphasis on family housing, with approximately 40% of new homes to be suitable for families
  • Enabling more types of housing suitable for families and downsizing seniors, with 10,000 units targeted that includes townhouses, row houses, and infill housing

For more information, view the Council reports: