The City of Vancouver is moving to “reset” its housing strategy to meet demand over the next 10 years.
According to a staff report to council, the city expects that 47,800 rental and ownership homes are going to be needed between now and 2026.
Although the same number of units is projected to be developed in the next decade, it will not consist of the “right supply”, Kathleen Llewellyn-Thomas, general manager of community services, wrote in her report.
“Housing being delivered over next 10 years will not provide the kind of housing or affordability needed by our population by 2026,” Llewellyn-Thomas noted.
Meeting the demand for affordable homes is key to maintaining the social diversity of the city, hence the requirement for a reset of the housing strategy it adopted for 2012-2021.
As Llewellyn-Thomas stated in her report included in the agenda of council on Tuesday (March 28), “a ‘Reset’ will find new ways to address housing affordability for residents”.
“The Right Supply of housing for local residents is urgently needed,” Llewellyn-Thomas wrote. “A new housing strategy for Vancouver will require targeted responses and ongoing commitments from the City and all its partners to ensure Vancouver continues to be a liveable city.”
According to her report, demand for rental homes by singles and families will grow by 24,600 units until 2026.
In addition, singles and families wanting to buy their own homes will account for a demand of 23,200 over the next decade, for a total of 47,800.
While the development industry can produce about the same number of rental and ownership homes, Llewellyn-Thomas noted that it’s not the right supply.
Citing an example, she stated that the business-as-usual scenario “results in an over production of approximately 10,000 ownership condominiums and under supply of affordable rental over the next 10 years”.
Llewellyn-Thomas pointed out that although there may appear to be a surplus of 2,200 new rental units by 2026, some “9,500 rental homes will require deeper levels of affordability to meet the demand for people earning less than $50,000”.
The business-as-usual approach will also not meet the demand of families wanting to own a home.
A total of 7,300 homes fit for families are expected to be developed by 2026, about 10,000 units short of the projected demand of 17,000.
Llewellyn-Thomas noted in her report that the city has been producing a lot of homes.
“Over the last 10 years, new housing starts have been strong, averaging approximately 5,000 units per year. 2016 was a record year in Vancouver, with 9,800 new housing starts – this represents 35% of all starts in the Metro Vancouver region,” she stated.
However, supply hasn’t met what residents actually need.
As Llewellyn-Thomas wrote, “Vancouver doesn’t just need supply, we need the Right Supply.”
In her report, Llewellyn-Thomas identified five “emerging directions” for a reset of the city’s housing strategy.
One is to link housing affordability targets to incomes.
The second is the creation of “more of the Right Supply” by expanding “rental housing supply at transit-oriented hubs, corridors and near arterials”.
The third is the creation of “new types of affordable homes” in existing single family neighbourhoods.
Another is to provide more city lands for affordable housing projects.
The fifth is to prioritize the delivery of affordable housing projects through a one-year pilot that will cut processing times for rezoning and permit applications.
These new directions require approval by city council.
In her report, Llewellyn-Thomas underscored the gravity of the housing situation, and the need for action: “2017 is a pivotal moment for Vancouver in facing its housing affordability crisis. Other liveable cities around the world are experiencing increasing housing market pressure due to global flows of money, people and jobs."