Draft City of Vancouver 2019 budget delivers $78 million social-housing windfall

Several projects have been identified as high priorities

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      The City of Vancouver plans to invest $78 million in affordable-housing initiatives next year.

      The amount represents almost 14 percent of proposed capital expenditures totalling $568 million in the draft 2019 city budget. Affordable housing is the third-biggest capital item after water and transportation infrastructure.

      “As a growing and diverse city, Vancouver needs to continue to increase the availability and range of affordable housing choices for all residents,” the draft budget states. “This is a critical step in promoting economic development while building a healthy, resilient and sustainable city that has safe, inclusive and creative communities.”

      The document continues: “Responding to Vancouver’s current housing affordability crisis is the most significant challenge facing the City today.”

      In 2019, the city intends to spend $36.6 million buying land for social and affordable housing. This is the biggest allocation from its $78-million proposed capital budget for housing.

      The city will also continue with the redevelopment of the Roddan Lodge and Evelyne Saller Centre in the Downtown Eastside, with a budget for next year of $10 million. A new 11-storey building with 213 social-housing units, plus a relocated Evelyne Saller Centre, will be developed at 124 Dunlevy Street, replacing Roddan Lodge, a six-storey building with 156 single-room-occupancy units.

      In addition, the city plans to buy affordable-housing properties in the Downtown Eastside, with a budget of $7.5 million. As well, the city’s Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency will get $3.2 million from the $78-million budget for affordable housing. This will provide the capital support for its projects in 2019.

      In a separate paper, which deals with the budget outlook for 2019–2023, the city identifies 3510 Fraser Street as one of the housing projects that will get money for next year. A six-storey building will be developed at the site, with a seniors’ centre at ground level and 58 housing units for seniors on the upper floors.

      Going back to the main budget document, the city will also allocate $3.2 million as capital grants to nonprofit partners to “enhance viability and affordability of their non-market housing projects”.

      Moreover, the city will provide $2 million in capital grants for the upgrading of single-room-occupancy units.

      “Capital expenditures of $568 million are budgeted for 2019 to complete or advance progress on a number of ongoing and new multi-year capital projects, including significant investments in key priority areas,” according to the budget document.

      In addition to capital expenditures, the city’s operating budget for next year is proposed at $1.5 billion.

      The budget will be presented to council on Tuesday (December 11). Council will vote on the budget on December 18.