The City of Vancouver is taking steps to build 400 new affordable homes on four city-owned locations, worth $50 million.
Rental rates will be slightly below market rate, and even cheaper, if the city gets a helping hand from senior levels of government.
Mayor Gregor Robertson says new housing will be include a mix of SRO replacements and multi-family units with rents from the shelter rate of $375 to $2,000.
“We have new homes on West Pender Street for the people in the downtown east side community for lower and middle incomes, there’s senior residences that will be possible on the Fraser Street site, there’s home for families on the Main Street and Southwest Marine Drive site.”
Looking for a government commitment to lowering rates
He says if the province and federal government step up, the city can lower rates.
“They are doing the work saying they will have more definitive commitments by the next budget, we want to make sure we have as much in the process and ready to be funded by the federal government to make sure that the money flows.”
Robertson was asked if he considered $2,000 affordable for low income families.
“If we do get partnership from the provincial and federal government, we can bring the rents down, we are able to put forward a measure of affordability with these sites.”
Location and unit details
- 177 West Pender Street: Up to 100 homes for people on low to moderate incomes as part of the commitment to deliver the objectives of the Downtown Eastside Community Plan.
- 3510 Fraser Street: Approximately 60 homes for seniors, with the potential for a senior center on the ground floor.
- 2221 Main Street: Approximately 130 rental homes for working families and singles.
- 55-79 and 87-115 Southwest Marine Drive: approximately 100 rental homes, with a target of 50 per cent of the units allocated to families.
The city is looking to break ground this year, with completed dates two years after.
The rental vacancy rate is among the lowest in Canada, at 0.6%.
Empty homes tax a contributing factor to affordable housing
While Vancouver City Council is on summer break, Robertson says staff are hammering away at the city’s empty homes tax.
“Vancouver staff are working with provincial staff on next steps with the empty homes and working with all the elements of that. We very badly need access to provincial data.”
Robertson stood his ground, saying he wants the tax implemented as soon as possible.
A look back: what has the City of Vancouver contributed to affordable housing so far?
The capital financial plan for 2015-2018 has a proposed investment of $125 million allocated to affordable housing, according to the City of Vancouver.
In February 2016, the City committed $250 million in city-owned land for the development of affordable housing in partnership with the Provincial and Federal governments.
To meet their target of creating 2,500 units of affordable housing by 2021, Vancouver’s Affordable Housing Agency aims to have 500 units under construction by the end of 2017, and an additional 500 units by the end of 2018.
A large portion of the investment in affordable housing is also set to restore exiting housing and re-create it to be functional and usable for those in need.
Take a look at the progress made to meet the City’s goals