Vancouver housing authority proposed by COPE
Coalition of Progressive Electors city council candidates outlined their proposal for the creation of a Vancouver housing authority today (November 17), which they say would be charged with tackling the need for affordable housing.
Candidate Tim Louis said the arms-length housing authority would work with community groups and non-profit developers to buy and sell housing units at cost.
“We need an independent housing authority and we need to be working with the other levels of government to create the affordability necessary, and this housing authority is a way we can do it, using the city land and partnering with other organizations, non-profits, equity co-ops and other mechanisms to create this affordable housing,” Ellen Woodsworth told reporters in front of city hall.
RJ Aquino added that the authority would enforce inclusionary zoning regulations, requiring every new development above six stories to include at least 20 percent affordable rental units.
While the plan for a housing authority doesn’t have the endorsement of Vision, which is running a common slate with COPE in the November 19 election, Woodsworth said she thinks that Vision would support the idea.
“Obviously the City of Toronto has a Toronto housing authority that’s arms-length to the city and it’s been very successful,” she said. “I think we need a made-in-Vancouver model.”
The councillor added that the city is seeing a “deepening” housing crisis.
“We are addressing the homelessness situation, but shelters are not homes,” she said. “Both COPE and Vision want to address the real solution, which is affordable housing.”
The commitment for a housing authority was first included in COPE’s release of their full election platform on November 8.
Vision Vancouver councillor Kerry Jang called the local housing authority proposal “a good idea”.
“I think it’s absolutely something worth pursuing,” he told the Straight by phone.
Jang’s party also raised the topic of homelessness today, taking aim at Non-Partisan Association mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton’s voting record on the issue.
According to Vision, Anton was the only member of council to vote against support for emergency shelters in December 2009, and against the city’s 10-year affordable housing and homelessness plan.
Anton said she voted against the housing plan out of objection to what she argued was a change in the city’s goal from ending homelessness to ending street homelessness.
“He watered down the city’s commitment,” she told the Straight by phone. “How could I vote for that?”
Anton said the NPA would prefer to pursue permanent housing over shelters, including beginning construction on the remaining supportive and social housing projects on city-owned sites.
Jang responded that Vision has “always said it was street homeless”.
“When we took office, we used the best practices in urban health…they told us very clearly, focus on the most vulnerable, and the most vulnerable are those who are actually sleeping on the streets right now,” he said. “That was where we put our focus as the first step.”