Vancouver Greens look south to Portland for affordable housing ideas

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      Tiny houses and wood-frame construction are some of the housing ideas that the Green Party of Vancouver wants to see the city looking at.

      Those are two of the proposals that are outlined in the party’s municipal-election platform. As part of a list of almost 20 policies related to housing, the Greens are vowing to “encourage other affordability measures such as wood-frame multi-unit housing construction”.

      In a phone interview with the Straight, Green council candidate Pete Fry cited the environmental performance, architectural form, and lower costs of the model as advantages. He noted that the B.C. building code allows up to six-storey wood-frame complexes.

      Fry sees this kind of scale of new housing as being more amenable to communities than adding towers to residential areas.

      “I think it’s something worth incentivizing, and I think it’s a gentler form of densification that kind of meshes a little bit better with neighbourhoods,” he said.

      Another model that Fry wants the city to examine is the tiny-house movement. He said the housing form is currently in “a little bit of a grey area”.

      “I would want to see some kind of sensitive legislation that recognizes the value of these small-footprint houses, a), for the environment, and, b), for affordability,” he said.

      Fry is interested in models supported in Portland, including tiny-house communities for low-income residents or people at risk of homelessness.

      “I think it’s just having your own space,” he said. “Obviously, you probably want to aspire to something a little bit bigger after a period of time, but it would be infinitely better than, say, an SRO.”

      But he’s also interested in the more “informal nature” of tiny houses.

      “I think that’s what a lot of the tiny-house activists are looking at right now, is the notion that if it’s cool with your neighbours, you could park a tiny house in your backyard and hook it up and really not require a permit to do so.”

      The concept is one of several Portland examples that the Greens are seeking to emulate in Vancouver.

      Another proposal is for Vancouver to ask the B.C. government to allow the city to introduce an “AirBnB tax”, with revenues directed to affordable housing.

      “It’s something I’d like to see us look at,” Fry said. “It seems like a no-brainer, and it’s an easy win…I like the idea of it going to affordable housing.”

      Comments

      7 Comments

      yeah

      Nov 5, 2014 at 2:53pm

      Of course they are looking for ideas elsewhere since they seem to not have any ideas of their own.

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      unhappy

      Nov 5, 2014 at 2:58pm

      Here's a solution to the problem of ridiculous housing prices. 30% cash down payment to purchase a property. Mortgages shouldn't be allowed to include rental suite income in their calculations. Watch the cost of housing return to reality. Crazy house prices only help the banks and real estate agents.

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      OMG

      Nov 5, 2014 at 4:06pm

      @unhappy

      "Crazy house prices only help the banks and real estate agents."

      ....and the ordinary citizens who are selling their property. For some reason they are always left out of this conversation, despite being the largest group benefiting from these prices. It's a little hard to demonize mom, dad and sis so banks, realtors, flippers and offshore Asian investors are easy targets.

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      hello

      Nov 5, 2014 at 7:24pm

      yes...the baby boomers in this city are selling their houses to " offshore money " and the offshore money then flips them out to new offshore greater fools who then flip to other offshore greater fools and we have ended up with a city that is in some areas largely empty and way overvalued after lot values have risen 400 % in ten years. huge chunks of our new condos which at 600 sq feet are supposed to be affordable housing alternatives.....not if you are a family by the way , are treated as safety deposit boxes for offshore money launderers. because of this....the horny home buyers in their 30's and 40's who live and work in the city are paying 1 million for pretty much any 33 foot lot west of new west . they are over leveraging...renting out basement suites , thinking that prices are rising for normal economic reasons and will continue to do so forever. Our municipal , provincial and federal politicians have let us down. if you want affordable housing , stop allowing offshore money to be laundered through our housing market. and for the new horny local buyers....well...higher interest rates in the future will take care of that problem.

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      unhappy

      Nov 5, 2014 at 9:34pm

      OMG when these mothers and fathers bought these properties they were purchased as homes, not as things to flip for a quick buck. The fact that real estate has been artificially driven through the roof and beyond the means of most of a generation only proves my point. Back in the day, with normal housing prices, mom and pop could still downsize and afford a smaller property and still have money left over. Banks would be paying interest for those that save.

      Based on your flippant answer I assume your a banker, real estate agent, or a property developer.

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      OMG

      Nov 6, 2014 at 8:12am

      @unhappy

      "Based on your flippant answer I assume your a banker, real estate agent, or a property developer."

      I can see right now that you have a massive chip on your shoulder. I am none of these and you have no idea what you are talking about. BTW if you want to talk about 'back in the day' look at the history of land sales and speculation in Vancouver. It's been a speculators dream ever since the CPR announced that Vancouver would be the terminus for the railroad back in 1885. Since then it's been a roller coaster ride and there were other points in history when land prices skyrocketed way past the point they are now - with adjustment for inflation obviously.

      Most property is bought and sold by ordinary people. Who do you think lives in the many houses and condos in Vancouver? They are the ones buying and selling the houses and the main reason (still) that the house prices are so high is that people want to live here and quite a few are able to pay for a property. It's not rocket science.

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      RUK

      Nov 6, 2014 at 9:18am

      @unhappy

      But I agree with OMG that the people left out of the conversation are the owners who are the primary beneficiaries. It doesn't matter what horse you have in this race (and I am an owner), it is just true. Normally when things cost too much we blame the seller, no?

      To be nuanced a bit, I don't think that vendors should feel guilty about selling their crappy grandma cottage fixer-upper, bring your ideas 33x100 teardown for a million bucks.

      The problem is not where the money comes from. Is it dirty foreigners and crims? Well, (a) that's for FINTRAC to worry about, not me, (b) our perverse modern economy actually generates plenty of millionaires around the world, and why wouldn't they want to buy in a pretty, good-water-having burg like ours?

      The problem is what it does to the current and future affordability of residence in Vancouver and the metro communities around it.

      And before we fix that, let's discuss what we mean by reside. Private ownership, rental, tenants in common, co-operative housing? All on the table, IMO. Fixable, IMO.

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