It’s no secret that Vancouver’s housing is unaffordable. It is after all the most expensive city in North America and kids graduating college/university these days are faced with the harsh reality of living in the far flung ‘burgs or leaving the city altogether. The city cannot afford to lose young families and entrepreneurs, after all the creative class is what brings life into any city. Knowing this, mayor Gregor Robertson’s Task Force on Housing Affordability attempts to deal with this very dilemma. The city has outlined a number steps that can be taken to increase and protect the stock of affordable housing in Vancouver.
The following was outlined in a press release.
Key recommendations in the report include:
1. Bring a new level of strategic direction to affordable housing development in Vancouver by creating an arms-length, city-owned affordable housing authority, as is done in cities around the world.
2. Make transit hubs the priority for locating major new affordable housing developments.
3. Expand creation and development of stacked townhouses and rowhomes in ‘transition zones,’ to have better neighbourhood continuity between large towers and single-family homes
4. Incentivize all new housing built at ground level to be ‘suite ready,’ vastly increasing the potential for new secondary suites
Following six months of work, the 18 member task force comprised of real estate experts, academics, home builders, elected officials and not-for-profit housing managers released Bold ideas towards an affordable city. The launch of the Task Force was the first action taken by Mayor Robertson this term, and the report is the kind of comprehensive direction the City needs if we are to make a dent in Vancouver’s affordability challenge, said the Mayor.
“The Task Force’s work is pragmatic, thoughtful, and outlines clearly where the City can do more to encourage and protect affordable housing,” said Mayor Robertson. “As a father of kids in high school and university, my wife and I are very concerned about how they can afford to stay in Vancouver – a challenge I know is shared by families throughout the city. There is no easy solution to the lack of affordable housing in Vancouver but it is a challenge that we have to try and address, and it will continue to be a top priority for this council.
“No single step will change our housing problem overnight, but I’m confident that if we move forward on the Task Force’s recommendations, we can make progress.”
The Task Force set the benchmark of affordability at a range of $21,500 annual income for an individual, up to a combined annual household income of $86,500. The report is neither a call for unbridled free market development nor an expansion in government control or subsidies, but rather a targeted approach that recognizes where the housing market is coming up short for Vancouverites, and how the City can speed up the creation of new affordable development.
“The question the task force repeatedly came back to was ‘where will our children live in Vancouver?’ said Task Force co-chair Olga Ilich. “To answer it, the City needs to enable a range of housing that is broader than condominiums and single-family homes. People want choice – the opportunity to scale up if they are starting a family, and downsize as they retire. The report we’ve produced aims to cover a wide-range of needs, and I’m hopeful that City Hall will act on it to address a problem as urgent as the lack of affordable housing.”
As the mayor stated, there is no easy solution. Recognizing that this is a problem is a good first step for the city.
Image by Shogun_X