In a recent Q3 update, Housing Vancouver revealed the need for a stronger focus on rental units, with purpose-built rental approvals currently below the 10-year 20,000-unit target set by the City of Vancouver. To address the shortage, the government says it will be focusing efforts on incentivising the creation of much needed rental stock in the coming months.
In the first three quarters of 2019, the City approved 2,987 units of housing, including: 601 townhouse units; 364 laneway houses; 529 social and supportive housing units (427 of which are located on City land, and 300 of which are in partnership with the Vancouver Community Land Trust); and 649 purpose-built rental units, most of which were approved through the city’s rental incentive programs.
Over half of the new housing units approved were family-sized, containing two-plus bedrooms, as part of dedicated programs to encourage larger family-oriented housing.
According to the Q3 update, the period saw fewer purpose-built rental projects coming forward for council approval than in previous years, as well as fewer social and supportive housing approvals.
Approvals for housing that meets the needs of households earning under $80,000 per year are also below Housing Vancouver targets. This level of affordability typically requires partnerships with other levels of government and the non-profit and private development sectors.
To deliver more rental units and better meet targets, the City plans to focus its efforts on the following steps:
• Rental Incentive Program Review to explore the effectiveness of the programs in delivering new purpose-built market rental housing;
• Implementation of the Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program (MIRHPP), with 4 applications (approximately 240 rental units and 61 MIRHPP units) anticipated to reach Public Hearing in winter 2019;
• Major Project sites anticipating submission of rezoning applications to deliver additional social and below-market and market rental housing, including Heather Lands and the Oakridge Transit Centre;
• Additional city land sites to be developed in partnership with the Community Land Trust for social and co-operative housing;
• Launch of newly approved Community Housing Incentive Program (CHIP) which will provide capital grants to non-profit housing providers developing their land with a focus on deepening affordability in social housing projects;
• Ongoing Broadway Planning process which includes exploring opportunities to enable more social, market and below-market rental housing close to transit and amenities;
• Expo Line Station areas from Nanaimo to Boundary Road to be explored as an early planning initiative under the Vancouver Plan planning process to enable delivery of social, market and below-market rental housing choice
• Development of an Affordable Housing and Community Spaces Incentive Program to create opportunities for additional non-market housing.
Full reporting on progress towards targets for all of 2019 will be presented to Council early in 2020 through the annual Housing Vancouver Progress Report and Data Book.
As the City of Vancouver’s 10-year housing strategy, key priorities for Housing Vancouver include: creating 72,000 housing units over the next 10 years, and prioritizing rental housing to meet the greatest need.