Emerging Housing Directions update report goes to City Council July 25 (Tues): What’s there, what’s missing?

City HallThe City of Vancouver has put a positive spin on its “Emerging Housing Directions” policies which will be presented to City Council at a regular council meeting on Tuesday, July 25, 2017.

 

In a media release today entitled “Residents support City’s Emerging Housing Directions to deliver more rental, housing options across the city: 10,000 residents provided input on the future of housing in Vancouver” the City says that residents have told the City that “affordability is their top priority, that the City’s new housing strategy should prioritize housing based on what local residents can afford, and that the City’s Emerging Directions for its Housing Vancouver Strategy are on the right track.”

Comment: As such a crucial topic for citizens at all levels of the housing spectrum, this report merits good public attention. What is in there? What is missing?

For example, will the City speed up permit processes for new buildings and renovation, which could put thousands of housing units on the market more quickly (see “Invisible housing crisis“)? Will it relax its crackdowns on unauthorized rentals and instead facilitate and encourage owners to get up to code — which could potentially add thousands more units (see “Legalizing secondary suites” on a motion buried by Council in March)? There will be opportunities for further public input for the final Housing Strategy to be adopted in the autumn of 2017.

It will also be interesting to see how Vancouver’s strategies fit with policies to be introduced under the province’s new housing minister, Selina Robinson.

Here is a report on proposed priorities for Housing, approved by Council in March 2017. http://council.vancouver.ca/20170328/documents/rr1.pdf

The City conducted a survey that found for their next move owners will be looking for townhouses, rowhouses and duplexes (46%), while renters would be looking for low-rise apartments (58%), mid-rise apartments (43%) and townhouses/rowhouses/duplexes (40%).

City staff report back to Council on July 25th will include detailed results of public consultation, preliminary interim targets for housing in the city across the next ten years, and early actions to achieve those housing targets. The City seek further public input in the fall on these targets and actions, which will be incorporated into the final Housing Vancouver strategy.

More information: http://www.vancouver.ca/housing

Background (from City of Vancouver):

On March 28, 2017, City staff presented City Council with the proposed new housing priorities. The full council report Vancouver Housing and Homelessness Strategy Reset – Housing Vancouver Emerging Directions can be found here: http://council.vancouver.ca/20170328/documents/rr1.pdf

Research over the past three months included:

The Big Conversation

Residents from across the city – renters, home owners, seniors, youth and families – were invited to attend the public dialogue session, The Big Conversation – The Future of Housing in Vancouver, on June 17th at the Hillcrest Curling Centre. Over 300 people registered in advance and 175 people between the ages of 20 to 60 attended the event. A total of 42 per cent of attendees were renters and 24 per cent of attendees were living at home or struggling to find housing.

Online Questionnaire

From May 26 – June 23rd, both residents and non-residents of Vancouver were invited to complete online surveys and to provide feedback on the City’s emerging priorities. Of the over 10,000 respondents, nearly 2000 had left Vancouver within the last four years.

While the City continues to finalize its new ten-year housing strategy, it remains dedicated in its efforts to act to address the housing crisis and has increased its efforts by launching the following programs and initiatives:

  • Approving over 6,500 rental homes for young people, families, and seniors
  • Requiring 35 per cent of homes in all new apartment buildings to be for families (two or more bedrooms)
  • Bringing empty homes back into Vancouver’s rental housing supply by applying a 1 per cent tax to empty and under-utilized residential properties via the Empty Homes Tax
  • Proposing new regulations for Short-Term Rental accommodations
  • Providing new opportunities for social, rental, and family housing through Community Plans, and the Cambie Corridor Phase III Planning Program
  • Providing more diversity of housing options (such as infills and laneways) through a review of duplex areas in Grandview-Woodlands and Mt. Pleasant
  • Offering 20 sites of City-owned land worth $250 million to the Provincial and Federal governments to build affordable rental housing
  • Opening Vancouver’s first temporary modular housing development, in partnership with Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency (VAHA), to provide self-contained homes for 40 low-income tenants

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