Councillor Adriane Carr takes aim at costly rental projects subsidized by Vancouver taxpayers

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      A key housing program by the previous Vision Vancouver administration may face a major overhaul.

      Coun. Adriane Carr is expected to play a major role in the review of Rental 100, which subsidizes developers of what are supposed to be affordable market rentals.

      In the previous council, Carr successfully introduced a motion to audit projects completed under the program and its predecessor, the Short Term Incentives for Rental, or STIR.

      A staff report on Carr’s motion is expected in the spring, and the Green councillor anticipates that the new council may introduce significant changes.

      “The likelihood is very high that this council will,” Carr told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.

      The changes are expected to focus on making sure that rents are affordable in such projects that are supported by various incentives from the city. These incentives include waivers on paying development cost levies, or DCLs.

      “I’ve seen a lot of interest in making sure that the rental housing that we build—and especially the rental housing that’s subsidized by DCL waivers—is coming in at rents that people can afford,” Carr said.

      The rental-incentive guidelines for 2018 provide a picture of what the city considers “for-profit affordable rental housing” under Rental 100.

      In order for projects on the East Side to be eligible for DCL waivers, proposed starting rents should be at or below $1,496 for a studio, $1,730 for a one-bedroom, $2,505 for two bedrooms, and $3,365 for three bedrooms.

      For West Side developments, the maximum starting rents are $1,646 for a studio, $1,903 for a one-bedroom, $2,756 for two bedrooms, and $3,702 for three bedrooms.

      These rents apply starting on the day of the public hearing by council. Developers can increase rents every year, based on the maximum rate allowed by provincial legislation, until the project is completed. This means that the first tenants will be moving in with rents higher than those presented to city council.

      Moreover, the starting rents apply only to first tenants. Developers can charge as much as they want for subsequent tenancies.

      “People have actually come to me to say, ‘Look, you, as a council, passed these projects. The rents that were listed in the report to council were never the rents that got charged. These projects got delayed or whatever and it just took time and then the rents even from the very beginning were not those rents,’ ” Carr said.

      “And the other thing they say is that ‘Yeah, people come in and then they somehow get people to move out and they jack the price way up,’ ” Carr continued. “So both of those concern me, of course, especially because in those Rental 100 projects and the previous STIR program, you know, we forgave, like, just millions of dollars of tax money.”