Office of the Mayor
May 9, 2013
Vancouver – Mayor Gregor Robertson is urging City Council to support an innovative proposal for 355 new units of affordable rental housing on four City-owned sites, which would deliver on a key recommendation of the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability.
The proposed new affordable housing will include a minimum of 273 units with rents significantly below market rates, with priority for all 355 units going first to those who currently live in Vancouver. 48 units will also primarily serve persons living with mental illness.
“Vancouver has an urgent need for more affordable housing that fits with our neighbourhoods and makes our city more livable for seniors, students, and young families,” said Mayor Robertson. “With 355 new units of secure and affordable rental housing, this proposal represents a significant step toward meeting that need. It’s encouraging to see such strong and early progress after the work we’ve done to enable innovative affordable housing solutions throughout Vancouver.”
After a comprehensive, public procurement process initiated in August 2012, the winning bid for the partnership to build and operate the new affordable housing units is a consortium of non-profit partners led by the Land Trust, a non-profit charity established by the Co-op Housing Federation of BC. The investment of four City-owned sites – provided to the Land Trust for a long term lease – has leveraged $76.2 million in capital funding commitments from the non-profit partners. The City will not provide any operating subsidies or property tax exemptions.
Leasing land at a nominal fee to facilitate the creation of new affordable rental housing was a key recommendation from the Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability.
The Land Trust’s average rent is planned to be $769 per month for a one-bedroom unit, 20% below the Housing Income Limit metric established by BC Housing. Part of the affordability is generated by an internal subsidy which redistributes the operating income from 82 units of market rental housing at one site to the below-market units at other sites. Construction is targeted to begin in March 2014, with residents moving in by the end of 2015.
“Confronting the challenge of housing affordability has been a top priority of my work as Mayor, and I urge all of City Council to join me in supporting this unique opportunity to make our city more affordable for those who live and work in Vancouver,” added the Mayor.
The City of Vancouver has taken a number of steps to make housing more affordable in Vancouver and to support renters and residents in need. These include:
- Approving a record 1,021 new rental housing units in 2012
- Launching a Mayor’s Task Force on Housing Affordability
- Approving the development of an arms-length Affordable Housing Authority
- Approving Vancouver’s first-ever co-housing project
- The opening of Vancouver’s first Rent Bank, to support renters in crisis with short-term loans
- The creation of the Rental 100 Program, which provides incentives for the development of new, 100% rental buildings
- The launch of the online Rental Standards Database, which will enable renters to search out buildings that have current safety issues
- Hosting the ‘re:THINK Housing’ international ideas competition to solicit ideas from around the world on how to create new affordable housing
The full staff report and recommendation can be found here, including details on the locations of the 4 sites:
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