What is affordable housing and how can it be achieved in Vancouver? What is needed to provide housing that accommodates a range of demographics including seniors, families, and the younger generation? These seem to be conversations that are tiptoed around by many politicians. Indeed, it’s an issue that should only be tackled by the brave, as it is certain to cause upset to the real estate market as we know it in Vancouver.
Many confuse affordable housing with non-market or social housing. Yes, there is a significant need to provide housing for our most vulnerable citizens, as well as those who live on government assistance, or are homeless. However, there is another, larger group of people who find housing out of reach in Vancouver—and the current Vision mayor and council have swept them under the carpet.
Over the past six years, our current mayor has promised to make housing affordable for young people, seniors and families. On paper, some of the people who fall into these categories may be living on more than a modest income. However, they still are unable to afford to own or rent a home in Vancouver. To combat this issue, the current Vision council created a task force on affordable housing, and, along with it, buzzwords that look great on paper—things like “Rental 100”.
However, they have failed to deliver affordable housing to people who need it. That is a fact.
I am 31 years old, and live in a dual income household—a condominium in East Vancouver. I chose to live in a smaller space to be able to afford a home in the city. My story is not unique—many of my friends and colleagues who used to live in Vancouver have been forced to move away from the city because of growing families or rising rent. Simply put, they can’t afford to live in the city where they work and grew up.
Affordable ownership was included in the considerations proposed by the developer for the fall 2013 plan for residential housing at Oakridge Centre. The proposal at the public open house considered 2,900 residential units, including 390 units of market rental, 280 social housing units, and 100 units of affordable ownership.
Council approved this project—without including the affordable ownership units.
In our city, developers often are seen as the bad guys. However, it is the city that sets policy and decides what hoops need to be jumped through for a project to pass. Time and again, we’ve seen that affordable housing is not a priority of Vision Vancouver.
There are ways to achieve affordable housing in our city. Adopting creative solutions such as adjusting the amount developers are required to pay in fees to the city would help reduce the cost of homes. This is not a one-solution issue; there are many possible ways to combat the problem.
However, without proper conversation, opportunities to create affordable housing will be missed. There needs to be real dialogue about affordable housing for those who cannot afford housing and also do not qualify for non-market or social housing units. As a city councillor, I would make affordable housing a priority and would look for practical solutions to address this crisis, which affects students, seniors and families.
Until then, I will continue driving out to the Tri-Cities, the Fraser Valley, and beyond to visit many of my friends who would like to live in Vancouver but cannot afford to.
On November 15, I am asking for your support. Please elect me as a city councillor, along with Kirk LaPointe for mayor and the rest of the NPA team, so we can create real dialogue—and real solutions—to this growing problem.