The Coalition of Progressive Electors wants to see the city build and own new housing.
Mayoral candidate Meena Wong detailed the party’s proposal for a Vancouver housing authority today (October 29), which the party says would generate 800 units of city-owned housing per year.
Half of those units would be social housing to replace privately-owned single-room occupancy hotels in the Downtown Eastside, she said.
It’s a plan that Wong acknowledges is contingent on senior government funding. But she believes that even without support from those governments, the city would still be able to implement the policy.
“We think that we still have enough resources to build city-owned and maintained, revenue-generating affordable housing on city-owned land,” she told the Straight by phone, noting that affordable would be defined as 30 percent of a tenant's income.
Under COPE’s plan, the authority would be funded through sources including a tax on properties that are vacant for more than a year, amounting to an estimated $10 million annually, $50 million in levies and contributions from private developers, and a “luxury housing tax”.
That levy would be applied to homes valued at more than $1.5 million. For homes valued at $2 million, the tax would translate to an extra $42 a month. Wong said low-income homeowners would be exempt from the tax.
“This is not going to target the low-income people who are housing rich and cash poor,” she said. “It’s targeted towards people with financial means, who are flipping the properties.”
Other funding sources for the authority would include $10 million in property endowment fund revenues, and what COPE estimates would be $50 million in profits generated through the authority’s construction of low-end and regular market housing.
The party is banking on securing another $25 million in funding through lobbying, including senior government funding.
Wong criticized Vision Vancouver’s proposed affordable housing agency, which aims to use city-owned assets to create 500 new “affordable homes” in its first three years.
“Not one unit of affordable housing that the city owns and the city builds and the city maintains,” Wong said of Vision’s proposal.
“Affordability in Vancouver is going through the roof,” she continued. “Young people are moving out and seniors are being renovicted and also redeveloped out of their neighbourhood. We want to put a stop to that. We believe the city has a role to play in providing affordable housing.”
COPE’s proposed authority would consist of elected members representing tenants and community members.