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Adequate housing is a fundamental human right. Everyone from low-income residents and newcomers, to seniors, young people and growing families, should have access to housing that is adequate, secure, and affordable. The existing housing system is not meeting the needs of Vancouver’s current or growing population. It will require partnerships from all levels of government, community and the private sector to address needs and improve our housing system.

Directions and Policies

Direction 1.1: Housing Need

Plan for and accommodate existing and future housing need.

The City and region have experienced a decoupling of incomes and housing costs, with low- and moderate-income people most impacted. Vancouver has persistent homelessness, with over 2,000 people without a home in 2020 and many more living in unsafe or inadequate conditions. With a growing population, limited increases in income, and not enough housing created in recent decades, we need to plan for and accommodate housing needs.

Policies

1.1.1 Update the Housing Vancouver Strategy every five years so that it:

a) Meets the provincially-mandated Housing Needs Assessment requirements
b) Identifies housing targets to help meet existing and future housing need
c) Explores demographic-based housing strategies to meet diverse housing needs
d) Identifies equity-based geographic housing metrics to measure progress
e) Identifies short- and long-term strategic housing priorities; and
f) Identifies implementation actions to address strategic priorities, along with timelines and ongoing monitoring and evaluation.

1.1.2 Work with other municipalities in the region and Metro Vancouver to promote affordable and diverse housing types to meet regional housing needs.
1.1.3 Strengthen partnerships provincially and nationally to support delivery of funding and programs to meet existing and future housing need.

Direction 1.2: Geographic Equity

Ensure opportunities for inclusion of low and moderate-income households and diversify the housing stock across all residential areas.

Housing suitable for low- and moderate-income households is not equitably distributed across the city as most of the city is zoned for low density housing that is not affordable to most households. Adding more housing diversity in these low density areas will mean more people of all incomes, ages and famliy types will have access to housing throughout the city, contributing to more inclusive, vibrant and healthy neighbourhoods.

Policies

1.2.1 Adopt supportive land use policies and zoning to enable more diverse housing of all tenures across every residential neighbourhood.
1.2.2 Enable social and purpose-built rental housing off major streets and near transit, green spaces, schools, and other amenities and services.
1.2.3 Enable more Missing Middle housing options in low-density neighbourhoods, including single-lot and multi lot redevelopments.
1.2.4 Improve multi-family housing options to better meet the diverse needs of households, including for families with children, intergenerational households, persons with disabilities and seniors, through improved building design and forms.

Direction 1.3: Address Homelessness

Address homelessness by ensuring every person has access to permanent secure housing with a range of diverse supports.

Homelessness in Vancouver has increased over time. The causes of homelessness are complex, and the solutions need to take a holistic approach. Indigenous Peoples are over-represented among people experiencing homelessness, making up 39% of the total Homeless Count in 2020, and only 2% of the general population. Government and community interventions are needed to ensure adequate policy and resources are in place to address homelessness.

Policies

1.3.1 Work with urban Indigenous organizations to prioritize services, supports and affordable housing options for Indigenous Peoples experiencing homelessness and at risk of homelessness.
1.3.2 Work with Indigenous partners, non-profit providers, Provincial and Federal governments and health authorities to provide a diverse range of housing options, emergency services and supports to people experiencing and at risk of homelessness.


Indigenous homelessness
is not defined as lacking a structure of habitation; rather, it is more fully described and understood through a composite lens of Indigenous worldviews.

Source: Thistle, J. (2017.) Indigenous Definition of Homelessness in Canada. Toronto: Canadian Observatory on Homelessness Press.

Direction 1.4: Community Housing

Significantly increase the supply of social and supportive housing and support the growth of the community housing sector.

The community housing sector is made up of nonprofit housing providers that own, develop, or manage social, co-op or supportive housing. They provide affordable, stable homes for households earning low- and moderate-incomes, and can serve specific needs. With rising rental prices, social housing has become increasingly important yet this housing makes up less than 10% of Vancouver’s overall housing stock.

Policies

1.4.1 Increase the supply of new social and supportive housing through supportive land use policy and zoning, financial incentives and streamlined approval processes.
1.4.2 Create stronger partnerships between the City and community housing sector and support the sector in capacity building.
1.4.3 Work with Provincial and Federal government partners to increase funding for social housing developments and for individuals on rental and income assistance programs.
1.4.4 Work with the Provincial and Federal government to accelerate the pace of replacement of private Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels with self-contained social housing.

Direction 1.5: Indigenous Housing

Work with Indigenous partners to support Indigenous housing models and wellness.

An equitable housing system is foundational to the ongoing and evolving commitment towards a City of Reconciliation. We will further support housing options that foster Indigenous healing and wellness, including adequate space for children and extended families, space to accommodate cultural and ceremonial practices, accessibility for those with mobility restrictions and Elders, on-site childcare, and social programs for tenants.

Policies

1.5.1 Expedite Indigenous-led housing and wellness projects by allowing flexibility in City plans and policies, approval processes and regulations.
1.5.2 Support Indigenous-led housing and wellness projects through city-led programs, and enable new Indigenous-owned housing.

Direction 1.6: Rental Housing

Become a city for renters that provides more secure rental housing options and mitigates displacement.

Vancouver is and has historically been a city of renters. Rental housing is important to meet the needs of a diverse population, is vital to a healthy economy, and allows moderate-income households to stay in the city. There is a significant shortage of rental housing in Vancouver. With most purpose-built rental constructed in the 1950’s and 60’s, much of today’s affordable rental housing is in high demand and in need of renewal.

Policies

1.6.1 Increase the supply of new purpose-built market and below market rental housing through supportive land use policy and zoning, financial incentives and streamlined approval processes.
1.6.2 Minimize displacement of renters, ensuring residents are able to remain in their neighbourhoods when planning for growth.
1.6.3 Promote reinvestment and renewal of existing rental housing stock without displacement through City policies and partnerships with Provincial and Federal governments.

Direction 1.7 Speculation

Continue to address speculation and take steps to promote equitable treatment of renters and homeowners.

In recent years, the City and Province have taken steps to address speculation, including North America’s first Empty Homes Tax and the City’s Short-Term Rental regulations. Yet, rising ownership prices are increasing the divide between who can own their home and who cannot. This divide is worsened by senior government tax and financial policies that privilege ownership over renting.

Policies

1.7.1 Ensure new and existing housing serves people who currently live and work or intend to live and work in Vancouver.
1.7.2 Use City regulations and financial tools to increase certainty in land use policy and rezoning processes, discourage speculation, and reduce upward pressure on land prices.
1.7.3 Work with Federal and Provincial partners to understand and advocate for new measures to balance tax and other financial treatment of owners and renters.

 

Housing and land prices continue to rise, in part due to speculation, but also due to the growing demand for homes and historically low mortgage rates. With these upward pressures on home prices, we need to continue to address speculation while enabling significant new supply to meet demand.