Mayor, Council Give Green Light to Pursue Affordable Home Ownership Pilot

Today, Mayor Gregor Robertson and Council approved in principle an Affordable Home Ownership pilot program, the first of its kind in Vancouver that will allow young families to enter the housing market and put down roots in the city. The pilot targets moderate and middle income working households who face a shortage of affordable family-sized units in Vancouver, in a housing market with a less than one per cent rental vacancy rate.

“The Affordable Home Ownership Pilot is the latest in a series of steps Council is pursuing to relieve some pressure on young working families who want to enter Vancouver’s housing market,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “This pilot program will help fill a gap in our housing market for working families, and the City will continue to look at all options available to invest and improve affordability for our residents.”

The development of an Affordable Home Ownership program emerged from the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability last term.

Under the program, first-time buyers who have lived in Vancouver for the last five years would be eligible to participate in the program. At least one buyer must work in Vancouver, and cannot have owned property before. The eligible household income for the program ranges from $67,540/year (single and couple households) up to $96,170/year (households with at least one dependent child).

Levels of discount for buyers will vary but the City is targeting that households pay no more than 35 per cent of their income on housing costs. The City would maintain an ownership stake in the housing as a way to bring the cost down, with the City and owner sharing in any equity gains.

City staff will immediately submit a Vancouver Charter Amendment to the Provincial government in order to move forward with pursuing pilot options. Staff will report back to Council with a framework for the pilot and final recommendations later this year, likely this fall.

You can see the staff presentation here.

The Affordable Home Ownership program is the latest measure Council has adopted in creating affordable housing options to make Vancouver a place everyone can call home. Other actions on housing include:

  • Directing staff to work with AirBNB and other listing services to collect data on the frequency and volume of short-term rental housing;
  • Approving a record 1,300+ new rental homes in 2015;
  • Offering 20 sites of City-owned land worth $250 Million to senior governments to use for affordable housing;
  • Starting construction on the first below-market family rental building in the City in Southeast False Creek;
  • Researching the impact of empty homes in Vancouver’s housing market;
  • Calling for both a speculation tax and a luxury sales tax to create a more level playing field in the housing market;
  • Bringing in the strongest tenant protections of any municipality in B.C. to Vancouver;
  • Directing staff to increase family unit requirements in new housing projects;
  • Approving new incentives to create 2 and 3 bedroom units in new rental housing projects; and
  • Providing four City land sites to enable Vancouver’s first Community Land Trust.