Proposed "affordable" East Vancouver rental no place for minimum-wage earners

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      People working full time and also earning minimum wage have to go elsewhere.

      Costs at a proposed “for-profit affordable rental” development in East Vancouver are way out of their budget.

      To afford the cheapest accommodation at an Aquilini Development project on Kingsway and Clark Drive, they have to have at least more than twice the money they earn.

      According to a City of Vancouver staff report, a renter must have a yearly income of $60,000 to $69,999 to afford a studio unit.

      The report explained that affordable housing is the cost of shelter that is “equal to less than” 30 percent of before-tax household income.

      A person working 52 weeks a year on the current minimum wage in B.C. of $12.65 earns $26,312 a year.

      This means that the employee is earning only 44 percent of the barest amount of $60,000 to make renting a studio affordable at the Aquilini Development project.

      That person has to work at least two full time jobs.

      Rent for a studio unit will start at $1,607 on the day (April 2) council holds a public hearing on a rezoning application for 1303 Kingsway and 3728 Clark Drive. Council has to approve the rezoning in order for the development to proceed.

      Until the project is complete and ready for occupancy, the developer can increase yearly rents.

      The affordability of the same studio unit can also be examined by looking at median incomes in the city.

      Drawing from the 2016 Census data, a previous city staff memorandum to council noted that the median income for a single person or one-person household was $38,449.

      This means that people earning about that same amount, which is more than what minimum wage earners get, still cannot afford a studio.

      The median income of $38,449 is only 64 percent of the $60,000 income threshold for affordability.

      Using the same Census data, the staff memo also noted that median income for all households in the city was $65,327.

      Going back to the report regarding the Kingsway and Clark Drive development, a person must earn between $70,000 to $79,999 to afford the rent of $1,869 for a one-bedroom; $90,000 to $99,999 for a rent of $2,457 for two bedrooms; and $149,999 for a rent of $3,235 for three bedrooms.

      The Aquilini company sought a waiver from payment of development cost levies or DCLs for the construction of the 54 rental units on the upper floors of the six-storey building. The ground floor will be used for retail.

      The value of the DCL waiver is more than $1 million.

      “The application qualifies for incentives provided to for-profit affordable rental housing, including additional height and density, a DCL waiver, and a parking reduction,” according to the staff report.

      Moreover, the report stated that the project will contribute to the “achievement of key housing goals” by the city.

      The current council has approved all projects of the same type that have been brought for its consideration.

      The development of “for-profit affordable rental” housing was encouraged by the previous Vision Vancouver administration through incentives like exemptions from payment of DCLs and provision of additional floor space.