Melissa De Genova: Affordable housing is a conversation that requires real solutions

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      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.

      Melissa De Genova is a Vancouver park board commissioner and NPA city council candidate.

      Comments

      We're now using Facebook for comments.

      6 Comments

      Humour me just this once

      Oct 6, 2014 at 2:47pm

      Can someone from the NPA actually state a position? Voters are not going to elect you based on vague, cloudy feel-goodery (particularly given your party's past record on affordability and housing). What concrete, substantive things will you do if you're elected?

      Stephen

      Oct 6, 2014 at 2:56pm

      De Genova faults Vision Vancouver for failing to address the lack of affordable housing, but offers no solutions of her own, just platitudes. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. Her sole suggestion: "adjusting the amount developers are required to pay in fees to the city". In other words, more hand-outs to developers.

      It seems to me COPE is the only party addressing this issue. Its call for a tax on speculators holding vacant properties and its plan for housing built and owned by the city (which works well in Europe) come as a breath of fresh air. The NPA, on the other hand, offers more of the same. No thanks.

      Dean Luca

      Oct 6, 2014 at 5:31pm

      Sounds great, but how can we trust the NPA do actually do anything to address the problem? Kirk and party silent on issue. No plan. Why not promise to reinstate 20% of developments to affordable housing? Again nothing of substance from NPA. I'm voting Green, enough of this nonsense with civic parties wholly funded by developers.

      MD

      Oct 7, 2014 at 8:32am

      Dean Luca
      "Sounds great, but how can we trust the NPA do actually do anything to address the problem? Kirk and party silent on issue. No plan. Why not promise to reinstate 20% of developments to affordable housing? Again nothing of substance from NPA. I'm voting Green, enough of this nonsense with civic parties wholly funded by developers."

      Nice to see the Green bots out in force this morning.

      This almost exact comment, less the second sentence, is posted verbatim under another NPA candidate letter in this same paper, under a different name. See the George Baker article.

      So, are you "Dean Luca", or are you "Dave p", or are you just following a cut and paste script with no one over at Green Party HQ having had enough good sense to tell you to jumble it up a bit to make things look a little less obvious?

      When the campaign is this level of amateur hour, I expect amateur hour government.

      SouthVancouver

      Oct 7, 2014 at 1:22pm

      It is becoming noticeable that only Green and COPE are offering any real solutions in this campaign.

      @MD Instead of just calling people amateurs, perhaps you could offer Vision’s response to Dean Luca’s reasonable proposal: Why not promise to reinstate 20% of developments to affordable housing?

      Shafted Resident

      Oct 13, 2014 at 1:13pm

      Melissa! You're going to win! The ruthless nature of Vision's actions simply make them a non-contender in this election. They've had six years to do something about the issues that negatively impact our city. If Moonbeam cared about breakfast for kids or swimming lessons for our children or any of the other bull shit promises, then those things would be in place by now.

      With Vision, all we can expect is more towers stacked everywhere, less road space for goods and services to be delivered, more sabotaging of emergency response, and nothing done about affordability. Yup! Just keep just trashing the buying power of Vancouverites Gregor!