In the current housing market there is a great need to create more affordable rental properties, as insufficient is built. The Community Housing Land Trust Foundation is proposing to use community assets and partnerships to allow a more prompt supply of affordable housing for those who are most in need.
Collaborative housing project
Through a groundbreaking project between housing co-operatives, not for profit housing associations, City of Vancouver, BC Housing and the Vancity Credit Union, the aim of the proposal is to develop 358 housing units, all of which will be affordable and available to a diverse mix of Vancouver residents in need2. The City of Vancouver is providing the Community Housing Land Trust leases for 99 years on four sites, allowing it to develop affordable housing. This is partly possible thanks to a $4 million contribution from not for profit partners, a the tailored mortgage provided by Vancity and construction financing through BC Housing .
Meeting the city’s housing needs
As part of the scheme Tikva Housing will provide 32 homes for low income families, in the style of townhouses. This will be next to two blocks of flats on SE Marine Drive developed by the Fraserview Housing Co-operative, which will offer 278 homes for families and singles on a low to moderate income. The co-operative will also provide a further 90 properties, comprising townhouses and two and three bed flats for families. Finally, 48 one bed properties will be available via the Sanford Housing Society, with priority given to residents living with mental health problems. The availability of commercial property at the Kingsway site allows this to be sold to help bring down the costs at all four sites. If all goes to plan, construction will get underway in spring 2015, with residents able to move in 2017.
Why the project is so important
The price of housing in Vancouver is not only the most expensive in Canada, but according to a recent international survey it is the second least affordable globally3. When compared to the average income, homes in Vancouver cost ten times this, with housing three times the average income considered affordable, and experts predict that the cost of living in the city is only going to increase further4. A consumer debt report for Canada released earlier this year stated that Vancouver residents were those with the highest levels of debt, and is on the increase even though levels of borrowing in other major cities are relatively stable5.
Tikva Housing aims to help the Jewish community. Although poverty rates among Jewish people are highest in Montreal, Vancouver isn’t far behind with a poverty rate of 16.1%6. This is a particular issue for members of the community suffering from physical and mental health problems, disabilities, seniors, lone parents and recent immigrants. Tikva Housing focuses its efforts on providing accommodation for families and singles aged 18 to 55 who are on a low income and at risk of homelessness. While the need for affordable housing among people with a disability is particularly strong, all of Tikva Housing’s property is designed for residents who can live independently.
What the City is doing
The City of Vancouver recognises the needs of its low income residents and is investing in a number of schemes to help this vulnerable group of residents7. It has plans to put more resources towards building affordable homes, including supportive housing for residents with additional needs. For residents who are homeless, the city also provides shelters and community centres where free or low-cost meals are available, along with other amenities. Assistance is also available for renters, with programs such as the Vancouver Rent Bank able to offer short-term funding to people who risk eviction or utility disconnection due to financial hardship. Efforts are also being made to increase the chance for renters to own their own home. For residents who have a mortgage, but are struggling to keep up with repayments, financial advice and assistance is also available. While it is always essential to speak with the lender, financial advice can help residents with money worries to budget and prioritise their debts to make sure that they do not fall behind with their mortgage repayments.
Looking to the future
Although it is difficult for low income families and singles to save for a deposit and obtain a mortgage to secure a home of their own, in ten years time this will become even harder. In Vancouver the average home in 2024 is expected to cost over $990,000, requiring a 5% down payment of close to $50,0008. As the affordability of homes in Vancouver is predicted to grow even further out of reach over the next decade, proposals such as that led by the Community Housing Land Trust Foundation will become even more important for the city’s residents.
This article was written by Emma Crosby
1 “Community land trusts and affordable housing development,” British Columbia Land Summit, accessed October 22 2014
2 “Land trust projects,” Community Housing Land Trust Foundation, accessed October 22 2014
3 “Vancouver’s housing 2nd least affordable in the world,” CBC News, accessed October 22 2014
4 “Vancouver real estate,” Dustan Woodhouse, accessed October 22 2014
5 “Delinquency rates drop as consumer debt surprisingly remains nearly the same during the fouth quarter,” Trans Union, accessed October 22 2014
6 “Jewish poverty increasing in Canada,” The Canadian Jewish News, accessed October 22 2014
7 “Housing and homelessness,” City of Vancouver, accessed October 22 2014
8 “Think house prices are unaffordable? It gets worse,” The Globe and Mail, accessed October 22 2014