City contributing eight sites worth $72.5 million to be rented at below market rate

 

Gregor Robertson
Photo by Chandra Bodalia

THE City of Vancouver’s Affordable Housing Agency (VAHA) is taking steps to enable more than 1,350 new affordable homes on eight additional City-owned sites. The City-owned sites, worth $72.5 million, were recently allocated to VAHA by Vancouver City Council to enable the development of new affordable rental housing.

These new developments will offer a mix of housing to meet the needs of working residents, seniors and families at low to moderate incomes. Average rental rates for homes will be below market rate, though deeper affordability will be achieved if VAHA can secure financial support through the senior levels of government and other partnerships.

VAHA is moving forward with the development of these sites to address the need for affordable rental housing in Vancouver; rental vacancy rates are extremely low. VAHA already has nine sites underway with about 2,300 new homes being developed with many partners. This summer VAHA will be issuing a request for proposal for a number of the new eight sites to select partners to design, build, fund and operate affordable rental homes.

Key highlights of each site include:

* East Fraser Lands: Approximately 414 affordable homes with 50 per cent family units (two- and three-bedroom).

* 3279-3297 Vanness Avenue: Approximately 93 homes near the Joyce SkyTrain station, providing 35 per cent of family units (two- and three-bedroom).

* 1190 Burrard Street: About 116 units of new affordable rental housing. QMUNITY, British Columbia’s queer, trans, and Two-Spirit resource centre, are partnering with VAHA for a new facility at this location.

* 1210 Seymour Street: Approximately 100 units of new affordable rental housing in a mixed-use building in Downtown South.

* 1001 Kingsway: About 52 new affordable rental units in a mixed-use development.

* 501 Powell Street: Up to 166 homes for people on low to moderate incomes as part of the commitment to deliver social housing in the Downtown Eastside Community Plan.

* 1618-1680 East Hastings: In partnership with Urban Native Youth Association (UNYA), providing about 240 affordable homes, a social service centre and a programming space for native youth.

“The City’s Affordable Housing agency is making great strides in delivering new rental housing in all corners of Vancouver, and these next 1,350 homes on eight sites of City land could be made even more affordable with the support of the provincial and federal governments,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson on Thursday. “With a persistent affordability crisis and rental housing crunch, finding secure, quality rental homes is a significant challenge. We need more homes for people in Vancouver who are on modest incomes. As the City resets its housing policy, we’ll keep doing everything we can and pursue all options to build more affordable rental housing as quickly as possible.”

“VAHA plays a critical role in providing affordable rental housing geared towards families, couples and singles of low to moderate incomes, living and working in Vancouver,” said Luke Harrison, CEO of Vancouver’s Affordable Housing Agency. “With the addition of these eight new sites and the implementation of innovative solutions to address the housing crisis, VAHA will be able to build 2,500 new rental homes in Vancouver.”

The final number of homes on each site is subject to approval through the rezoning and / or development permit process as well as confirmation of funding partners.

Since VAHA’s creation in June 2014, several innovative steps have been taken to address the housing affordability crisis, to add permanent affordable housing to the market and to develop temporary affordable homes in Vancouver:

* A sole sourced partnership has been developed that will see the Chinatown Foundation provide $3 million in private philanthropy in partnership with Vancouver Coastal Health to develop 58 West Hastings into 222 new affordable homes with a 50,000 sf integrated health care facility.

* A total of nine sites, put forward by VAHA, including three in the River District are in the planning and design phases to create approximately 1,000 new rental units.

* Vancouver’s first temporary modular housing project comprising 40 homes at 220 Terminal Avenue was completed in approximately nine months and has garnered financial support from CMHC and Vancity. Currently, VAHA is working on providing more housing by using innovative construction forms like modular.

This year, the City has approved a record investment in affordable housing, investing $80 million, the largest one-time investment in Vancouver’s history.  To further address the affordable housing crisis in Vancouver, the City is currently resetting its approach to housing and homelessness. Residents from across the city are encouraged to provide feedback on the proposed new priorities and actions, which will help form the City’s new 10-year housing and homelessness strategy – Housing Vancouver at www.vancouver.ca/housing.

For more information on the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency, visit: http://vaha.ca/