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Archive for ◊ Affordable Housing ◊

Vancouver’s new Affordable Housing Agency has identified seven sites to build an estimated 800 units of affordable housing, with a priority on new homes for families.

A staff report to City Council today outlined the VAHA’s business plan, including its organizational structure, housing targets, projected rent mix and land for development. Council has dedicated $62 million in the 2015 Capital Plan to invest in affordable housing, with the expectation of leveraging up to $250-300 million from other partners.

“Our Affordable Housing Agency is one of many tools we’re using to get new housing built that meets the needs of Vancouver residents, especially families,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “By using city land to leverage investments from non-profits, the private sector and senior levels of government, we’re pursuing yet another option for enabling the new affordable housing that our city needs.”

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Increasing family housing near parks and schools, and setting higher requirements for three bedroom homes in rezonings, are two of the new policies City staff are pursuing as part of efforts to increase housing for families in Vancouver.

“There is a clear need for more family housing in Vancouver, and City Hall is doing everything we can to make sure new housing is built that meets the needs of Vancouver families,” said Mayor Robertson. “Family housing is crucial for both the health of our neighbourhoods, as well as supporting our growing economy, so that we can attract and retain people who want to work in Vancouver.

“We’re going to keep looking at new ideas to meet our affordable housing challenges head-on, and make sure we’re providing opportunities for young people to put down roots in Vancouver.”

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Today City Council approved new incentives to get more family housing built in Vancouver. The changes build on the success of the City’s Rental 100 program, which provides incentives for the construction of rental apartments instead of condos and has generated almost 4,000 new rental homes.

The staff report shows a significant lack of family housing in Vancouver. Out of 55,800 rental housing units in Vancouver, there are just over 500 three bedroom units – less than 1%. The City will allow Development Cost Levies to be waived on the construction of new three bedroom rental units, with a size limit of 1,044 square feet – in line with BC Housing Standards for affordable housing.

“We need more housing built for families in Vancouver, and this is one tool the City can take to make it happen,” said Mayor Robertson. “Given how few units there are, it’s clear we cannot leave it to the housing market to generate three bedroom homes. Families need a place in Vancouver and that means providing a wider range of housing options.”

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Following a successful three-year pilot project to assist low-income renters in crisis, Mayor Gregor Robertson is highlighting the success of the Vancouver Rent Bank. Council will vote next week on a grant of $99,200 to contribute to the program’s operations for two more years.

“In a city where 52% of households rent their homes, far too many families know what it’s like to face an unexpected crisis and stay afloat in paying the rent,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “The Vancouver Rent Bank has proven itself as a remarkably successful tool to help low-income renters keep their homes in times of incredible difficulty. It’s a program that prevents homelessness and provides housing stability for families in need, and I look forward to supporting it again next week at City Council.”

The Vancouver Rent Bank is a multi-partner initiative jointly funded by the City of Vancouver and a variety of community partners. In 2012, City Council approved a grant of $148,800 over three years to support its operating costs.

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Following a public hearing last night, the City of Vancouver’s by-law for social housing now includes legal requirements for affordability of the units, strengthening the protection of low-income housing in Vancouver.

“By putting firm affordability requirements in place, Council is making sure that more social housing is going towards people on low incomes,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “These changes reflect what we heard from hundreds of workshops and community consultations during the development of a new Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Plan. This is a significant step and one that adds to our work to build and protect affordable housing in Vancouver.”

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This morning I took part in the City’s annual homeless count. I’m proud that as a City we set an ambitious goal seven years ago to end street homelessness. While I’m disappointed today that we’re not closer to zero than we are, as a city we’ve made progress. No one ever said it would be easy, but I know Vancouverites want and expect us to set important goals and take action.

The projects we’ve invested in have helped save lives, including over 500 units of permanent, interim, and shelter housing added in the last year alone. Interim housing at the Ramada on Hastings now provides warm homes for 40 people. Taylor Manor offers 56 people housing and mental health supports. The Quality Inn on Howe Street is housing more than 100 people, many of whom were homeless in Oppenheimer Park last fall. The 14 sites in partnership with BC Housing are giving hundreds of people safe, permanent homes throughout Vancouver.

These are homes for some of our most vulnerable residents. People on welfare, foster kids, people who deal with addictions and mental illness who would otherwise be on the streets. I’m proud that we’ve enabled homes for them, and the successes we’ve seen are directly related to setting a bold goal and taking action.”

I remain fully committed to building a Vancouver where no one is ever forced to sleep outside at night, both by continued work with our partners and by taking action with every resource at the City’s disposal. We’ve come a long way since 2008, and we’re going to keep following through on what we as a City can do: providing space for shelters, investing in interim housing, and providing land for social housing with the Province.

- Mayor Gregor Robertson