Even with Vancouver’s big strides in providing housing options for everyone, rising home prices and rents remain huge issues in the city.
A progress report about the city’s Housing and Homelessness Strategy 2012-2021 offers a picture of how the municipality has been responding to challenges.
On the agenda of council Thursday (May 27), the document notes that with the exception of supportive housing, the city has exceeded its 2012-2014 targets for social housing by 107 percent; secured market rental housing, 252 percent; and secondary market rental suites and laneway houses, 138 percent.
The report notes that even before the strategy was adopted in 2011, many of the city’s programs over the last six years were premised on the “principle that rental housing is the most affordable option across all income groups”.
It also indicated that as of 2014—marking the end of two three-year council terms—close to 10,000 new rental units have either been built, are under construction, or have been approved for development.
Also, according to the report, nearly 20 percent of housing started in the city from 2010 to 2014 were rental compared to the rate of five percent from 2005 to 2009.
Even though new rental supply has been created, the rental market remains tight.
According to the report, vacancy rates decreased from one percent in 2013 to 0.5 percent in 2014 “reflecting ongoing population growth and demand for housing”.
Average rents across all bedroom types rose 2.8 percent over the same period, from $1,144 to $1,176.
The document also stated that rents in newer units built since 2005 increased by two percent across all bedroom types from $1,529 to $1,559.
The report also goes into the rising cost of homeownership.
Citing figures from the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, a single detached home on the East Side of the city had a benchmark price of over $1 million in March 2015, a 14 percent increase from the year before.
Also on the East Side, a townhome in the same period was $532,600, representing a six percent increase from the same month of last year.
Prices for apartments on the same side of the city fell slightly by one percent, but a typical condo in March 2015 was still a substantial $316,000.
Prices on the West Side are greater, especially for single-family homes that were going for $2.4 million in the same period referenced in the report.
There may be a faint glimmer of hope for those who are thinking of owning a piece of the city.
According to the report, “over the next year, the City will be looking at a variety of options to potentially enable broader access to ownership for households who currently cannot access this due to high cost”.