Vancouver City Councillor

Category — Housing

Help wanted: residents in Jim Green’s affordable housing projects who can help assess his legacy

Are you now or have you ever lived in one of hundreds of affordable housing units that Jim Green helped build in our city? If so, Tyee journalist David Ball would like to talk to you as part of an upcoming series that assesses Green’s hopes for his affordable housing projects against the outcomes, as seen by the residents themselves.

That means you’re a resident or former resident — or you know someone who fits the bill — of the DERA Co-op, Bruce Eriksen Place, the Tellier Tower, Pendera, Four Sisters, Lore Krill, Solheim Place or Woodwards, nearly 1,000 units of social and affordable housing that Green steered to completion.

Ball can be reached at dpball@gmail.com or 778 318-4673. His report is scheduled for completion in time for the annual Jim Green lecture, an annual event that seeks to build and move forward Green’s ideas and philosophy.

January 19, 2015

Building new rental in Vancouver: can Canada’s “rental boom” help Metro?

Just 60 days after a hard-fought civic election in which the NPA vowed to kill Vision Vancouver’s Rental 100 program, Vancouver Sun reporter Barbara Yaffe is fuming that “Vancouver lags behind nation’s rental property boom.”

It’s good news that reporters like Yaffe acknowledge the crisis in rental housing construction and the role rental can play in housing affordability.

Missing, of course, is a reminder that an NPA victory on Nov. 15  would have eliminated a program that has increased annual rental construction from a few hundred units to more than 1,000, a pace Mayor Gregor Robertson wants to maintain for the next four years.

Given Vancouver’s rental program — and a similar effort in New Westminster — it would be interesting to know how much rental is being built in other municipalities like Burnaby and Port Coquitlam, where land costs are lower and new Evergreen Line stations offer fabulous opportunities. My guess is that the number is very low.

Will the national boom help other Metro municipalities? Expansion of the rental stock in Surrey, Burnaby, North Vancouver, Coquitlam and all the rest would be welcome news. [Read more →]

January 13, 2015

New CMHC survey shows rents rising, vacancies falling as tenants face tightening market

Thanks to Tom Durning, of the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre, for forwarding this gloomy CMHC update on Vancouver’s rental housing market: rising rents and falling vacancies are creating a housing crunch for tenants.

Although Vancouver saw more than 200 new units completed last year, rising migration, a strong economy and the high cost of home ownership all combined to reduce rental vacancies.

A key finding of the CMHC study: the region’s new jobs tend to be lower-paying, underlining the “affordability” advantage of rental. It is remains much less expensive to rent a one or two-bedroom apartment than to buy one, despite low interest rates.

This all adds up to a heavy work agenda for the new Renters Advisory Committee approved by council yesterday, to be chaired by Councillor Tim Stevenson.

December 17, 2014

NPA pledge to kill Vision’s Rental 100 would be just in time to miss emerging revival of rental construction

Vancouver’s David and Mark Goodman, veteran observers of the rental real estate sector, say last month’s Canadian Apartment Rental Investment Conference confirmed the widespread industry view that Canada is poised at last for a revival in rental apartment construction.

What’s driving the revival? According to Goodman, it’s precisely the kind of programs Vancouver has pioneered with Rental 100, the program the NPA’s Kirk Lapointe has pledged to kill if he’s elected Mayor.

Here’s Goodman:

Recognizing at last that very little purpose-built rental stock has been added over the last four decades, cities and suburbs have been relaxing fixed municipal charges, providing density and height bonuses, reducing parking requirements and allowing for smaller suite sizes. (Emphasis added.)

Demand for these new buildings among investors and tenants alike appears almost limitless, while low financing and mortgage rates provide strong incentives for construction.

Given sharply escalating condo prices, many potential buyers are instead turning to new purpose-built rentals that feature all the modern and elegant amenities while providing today’s discerning tenants new found financial flexibility.

Normally residing either in condo rentals or in aging 50-year-old structures devoid of amenities, tenants are now seeing the clear advantages of the newer purpose-built rentals, where they may enjoy superior caretaking and management, party rooms, gyms or pools and a sense of community, without the risk of being dislodged by condo owners.

Only Vancouver, of all the Metro municipalities, has a program like Rental 100 to support the expansion of this critical source of less-costly housing, although New Westminster has been developing its own version.

Mayor Gregor Robertson has pledged to continue Rental 100, committing to seek 1,000 new rental units annually. Given the improving economics of rental, this goal may be too low. But if Kirk Lapointe is elected, we’ll go backwards — and miss this positive change altogether.

October 21, 2014