Renters earning less than $63,000 qualify at East Vancouver church’s social housing project

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      An East Vancouver social housing project is up for public hearing by city council.

      Thirty-one percent of the units in the development will be for people who cannot afford to rent an equivalent unit in the private market.

      The rest of the 69 percent will be rented out at market rates.

      Based on the City of Vancouver’s definition of social housing, in which only a minimum of 30 percent has to be dedicated to non-market renters, the entire housing development will be considered as social housing as a whole.

      The rezoning application filed by the British Columbia Conference Property Development Council of the United Church of Canada proposes a total of 104 units.

      Thirty-one percent or up to 32 of the units are for renters earning below the Housing Income Limits or the yearly HILs set by B.C. Housing.

      According to B.C. Housing, HILs “represent the maximum gross household income for eligibility in many affordable housing programs”, and are “intended to reflect the minimum income required to afford appropriate accommodation in the private market”.

      Twenty-seven out of the 32 units are studios.

      These 27 units will be for renters with a gross household income of less than $51,500 per year.

      Using 30 percent for housing as a standard measure for affordability, an income of $51,500 means a person can afford to pay $1,287.48 in monthly rent.

      Five out of the 32 units are two-bedroom units.

      These five units will be for renters with a gross household income of less than $63,000 per year.

      Again using the 30 percent for housing as affordability measure, a household earning $63,000 can afford a monthly rent of $1,575.

      The development is in the Grandview Woodlands neighbourhood at the northeast corner of Semlin Drive and East 12th Avenue.

      The property is currently occupied by the Lakeview United Church.

      The project involves a six-storey building, with a new church on the ground floor, and housing above the place of worship.

      “The application proposes an L-shaped multi-use building consisting of 104 social housing units and the returning Lakeview United Church, with an estimated congregation of 70 people,” Theresa O’Donnell, the city’s deputy director of current planning, wrote in a report to council.

      According to O’Donnell, the housing component of the project meets the city’s definition of social housing, and qualifies for an exemption in the payment of development cost levies or DCLs.

      The estimated waiver of DCLs for the 104 housing units is estimated to be more than $1.8 million.

      O’Donnell also reported to council that the floor area of new church is also expected to qualify for an exemption.

      The estimated waiver of DCLs for the church is around $153,046.

      “The affordability requirements for the site will be secured through a Housing Agreement…together with a long-term lease to the non-profit housing operator which will ensure that a minimum of 30 per cent of the units are rented to households which earn under the BC Housing Income Limits (HILs) levels for rents that are no more than 30 per cent of household income,” O’Donnell wrote.

      The city planner added that “consistent with Council policy on social housing projects, the project is expected to be self-sustaining over the long-term and does not require further operating subsidies and property tax exemptions from the City”.

      The public hearing on the rezoning application is scheduled on Tuesday (May 26).

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