Category — Housing
A recent Tyee forum called Generation Rent featured four renters telling their real-life housing market stories. All four would support increased density, with some qualifications, to generate more rental housing; none seemed aware of Vancouver’s increasingly successful efforts to add hundreds of new units to rental stock.
In today’s Tyee: my summary of what Vancouver is doing for renters and how other municipalities are following suit.
November 28, 2013
Checking rental math: how private sector rental construction in Vancouver increased 10-fold since 2008
Hard as it is for some people to believe, Vancouver’s Rental 100 program is driving dramatic increases in rental housing construction, now matter how you do the math.
Jak King, chair of the Grandview Woodlands Area Council, questions Vision Vancouver’s assertion that the city saw more than 1,000 units committted last year compared to zero in 2008.
But the numbers are clear in the city’s 2013 budget backgrounders, page 139. A few private sector rental units were delivered, a larger number of public sector ones as well, but the total new private sector rentals committed in 2008 and 2009: zero.
The CMHC calculation makes the same point with different numbers. The CMHC says 269 units of all types were delivered in 2008 and 780 in 2012. That, too, is a big increase.
King wonders how many were affordable. That depends on the building, but rental housing is inherently more affordable than home ownership, which is why it is so important to have more of it.
November 21, 2013
The stories told by four renters at last night’s Generation Rent forum, organized by the Tyee Solutions team, underlined the continuing crisis of affordability, insecurity and dubious building maintenance afflicting many renters.
That the crisis continues is unsurprising: a long-neglected housing market cannot be overhauled in a day.
What was a wake-up call was the lack of information many on the panel had about how closely Vancouver’s policies reflect the solutions they propose. What’s more, other municipalities, like New Westminster and Burnaby, are beginning to implement their own rental housing strategies. There is hope. Thousands of new rental units are being built.
The tenants’ stories were diverse and compelling. For Joe Thompson, who now lives in affordable housing at City Gate, finding stable, long-term housing enabled him to turn around his life. Two of the other tenants had stories with less certain happy endings: a Mount Pleasant couple fearful the discovery of their chihuahua would trigger eviction from their perfect apartment; an artist and mother of two, husband in high tech, determined to raise her children in the city, now in a lovely home but with a uniquely progressive and supportive landlord who might someday sell.
The most unusual story: Jocelyn Wagner’s tale of five (or was it seven?) room mates, all professionals, who joined together in a social media strategy to land a $3,500 shared rental in West Point Grey that met their needs.
Many solutions were canvassed, but to take just one example: all four tenants expressed support, with some qualifications, for densification of the city as a way to produce additional rental housing supply.
What they did not know is that Vancouver’s Rental 100 program, along with renewed community plans supporting more growth on arterials, are showing dramatic successes along those lines, exceeding the city’s rental housing goals by almost 2,000 units. [Read more →]
November 14, 2013
A single use ticket suitable for distribution to the homeless “can be developed and will be implemented” under the Compass card program, Translink CEO Ian Jarvis told a Homeless Action Week transportation forum Wednesday.
Jarvis said Translink is “committed to work with the community and community organizations to find solutions” that will allow service agencies to continue their support to homeless transit users after the Compass card and Faregates become operational.
As things stand, single use tickets are often distributed by service agencies but many homeless riders commute without paying, risking an expensive fine they cannot afford. Those days will be over after the Compass card is implemented, unless Translink makes new arrangements.
Translink tackled the problem in the wake of a motion I proposed to Vancouver council in July after community service organizations realized their only access to transit could be eliminated by the new fare programs.
Karen O’Shannacery of Lookout told the meeting that talks were proceeding well with Translink but community groups were making little headway finding a provincial agency ready to provide necessary funding. The existing program is subsidized by BC Housing. Translink and the Transit Working Group made a joint trip to Seattle to see what programs are in place in the King County transit system. [Read more →]
October 17, 2013