Tax shift will increase residential rents, non-profit housing providers and landlords warned City of Vancouver

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      Affordable housing providers and landlords opposed the two percent tax shift from commercial to residential properties in Vancouver.

      They warned Mayor Kennedy Stewart and members of council that the shift will increase rents for tenants.

      The B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association (BCNPHA) and Co-op Housing Federation of B.C. (CHFBC) wrote in a letter that the shift would be “at the expense of residential properties that are being used to provide affordable housing”.

      The letter was signed by BCNPHA CEO Jill Atkey and CHFBC executive director Thom Armstrong.

      According to Atkey and Armstrong, their organizations represent 118 non-profit and 112 co-op organizations.

      They told the city that “thousands…would ultimately bear the cost of additional taxes through their housing charges and rents”.

      The letter was dated April 29, 2019, the same day council approved in a close 6-5 vote the two percent tax shift.

      Melissa De Genova was one of the five who voted against the tax shift.

      De Genova told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview that the adverse ripple effect of the shift on residential tenants is one of the reasons why she did not support the measure.

      In their letter, Atkey and Armstrong stated that the tax shift would be “cross-purposes with the City’s desire of seeing 12,000 new social, supportive and non-profit and co-op homes built over the next 10 years”.

      “We admire the City’s approach to date in supporting and incentivizing the development of new purpose-built rental and affordable housing but an across the board tax shift of 2% would have significant, negative impacts for the community housing sector and could jeopardize plans for that increased supply,” the two housing advocates wrong.

      They stated that the two percent tax shift represents an additional “burden” ranging from $6,000 to $12,000 per year for a new housing development.

      This means an increase in rents or housing charges of $6 to $12 per unit per month.

      “This may seem like a small amount for many, but for residents in need of affordable housing, it could mean the difference of having a child attend a field trip or needing to stay behind,” according to Atkey and Armstrong.

      LandlordBC CEO David Hutniak sent Mayor Stewart and council a separate letter dated April 25, 2019.

      “We are facing a rental housing crisis, and if this proposed tax shift were to proceed it would place further undue cost pressure on rental housing providers and contribute significantly to the affordability and supply challenges across the City,” Hutniak wrote. “The unintended consequences of this proposed tax shift are that residential renters will ultimately suffer.”