2013 sets record for new Vancouver rental housing

New year-end statistics show that 2013 set a record for new Vancouver rental housing for the second consecutive year, after a decade of limited rental construction and with rental vacancy rates among the lowest in Canada.

“Another record year for new rental housing shows that Vancouver is on the right track in our support for renters, and that our rental incentive programs are delivering results," said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “City Hall remains focused on enabling new rental housing to help people who can't afford to buy in Vancouver, particularly seniors, students, and young families.”

Year-end statistics for 2013 show that 1,097 units of new rental housing were approved this year, after a previous record high of 1,021 units approved in 2012. Zero units were approved in 2008 and 2009, and an average of 328 in 2010 and 2011.

In 2009, the City launched the Short-term Incentives for Rental (STIR) program, a pilot program that provided incentives for the creation of new rental housing. In 2012, the City established the Rental 100 program, which built on STIR and provides incentives such as reduced parking requirements and expedited permitting for 100% rental buildings.

In 2013, the biggest new rental project approved was 133 units through the STIR program at 1600 Beach Avenue. 58% of the units are targeted to families with children. It is only the second new purpose-built West End rental building in a decade (in a neighhourbood with Vancouver’s lowest average vacancy rate of .85%).

According to CMHC, the rent for a one-bedroom purpose-built rental unit in Vancouver is 37% cheaper than renting a one-bedroom condo.

“Making housing more affordable means residents and families can live closer to where they work, which reduces commuter congestion, helps attract world-class talent, and strengthens the economy and livability of our city,” added the Mayor. “There’s a lot more work to do, but we’re committed to building a Vancouver that is affordable for residents of all ages and backgrounds.”

Vancouver has also seen two consecutive record years for new laneway housing permits, with 348 permits issued in 2013 following 350 issued in 2012. Just 18 were issued in 2009, followed by 192 in 2010 and 229 in 2011. Laneway housing is required to be rental.

More than 52% of Vancouver households are renters, with Vancouver providing nearly half (46%) of the rental housing in all of the Lower Mainland and more than a quarter (27%) of the rental housing in all of British Columbia. The City of Vancouver is now 1,917 units above its target for new rental housing by the end of 2014.

2013’s record for new rental housing builds upon City Hall’s consistent work to make housing more affordable in Vancouver. These steps include:

  • Launching a Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability
  • Enabling significant new affordable housing on City-owned land with an innovative partnership that is creating 355 new affordable rental units on 4 City-owned sites in Southeast Vancouver
  • Hiring a new Chief Housing Officer for the City of Vancouver
  • Approving the development of an arms-length Affordable Housing Authority
  • Approving Vancouver’s first-ever co-housing project
  • The opening of Vancouver’s first Rent Bank, to support renters in crisis with short-term loans
  • Launching the Online Rental Standards Database, which enables renters to search out buildings that have current safety issues
  • Hosting the ‘re:THINK Housing’ international ideas competition to solicit ideas from around the world on how to create new affordable housing