Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency a half-measure

July 10, 2014 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
VANCOUVER AFFORDABLE HOUSING AGENCY A HALF MEASURE

Late last night, after a marathon sitting,  Vancouver City Council unanimously voted to receive the staff report on the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency and to publicly release the in-camera vote that created the Agency. Green Party City Councillor Adriane Carr said that she supports the creation of the Housing Agency, “only because I have verified that it has the capacity to be much more innovative and effective than Vision Vancouver will let it be right now.” 

“In response to my questions, the City Manager verified that the Housing Agency can build and own housing, similar to Housing Authorities in Whistler and Toronto, and its Board of Directors can include housing experts from non-profit societies, co-ops and the general public,” added Carr. 

“I decided it’s better to get this Agency going now because of the urgency of the housing affordability crisis in Vancouver. Staff admitted that the City’s approach to Vancouver’s housing crisis to date has been more passive than pro-active. We can be doing much more to leverage city-owned land and pro-actively pursue partnerships, especially with senior governments, non-profit societies and housing co-ops, to build truly affordable and social housing,” said Carr. 

“I disagree, however, about Vision Vancouver’s reluctance to have our new Housing Agency own and manage housing in the public interest. We need new approaches in Vancouver. Whistler and Toronto’s housing authorities, which build, own, manage and sell housing to meet public needs, offer models we should pursue,” continued Carr. 

“I believe that, should there be a change in the makeup of City Council after the November 15th election, this Housing Agency can morph into a more effective body, too,” concluded Carr. 

The creation of the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency (VAHA) is the latest Vision Vancouver pre-election promise to address the issue of affordability. After promising to champion affordability first in 2008 and again in 2011, the 2014 promise ("pre-approved" and published to Vision's campaign website before the public hearings had begun) is woefully inadequate. 

Green Party of Vancouver Council Candidate Pete Fry agrees that the housing agency as currently envisioned falls far short of the city's needs. "Despite our city's growing crisis of affordable housing, the VAHA 'contemplates delivery of 2,500 affordable housing units on City and partner land by 2021' [http://former.vancouver.ca/ctyclerk/cclerk/20140708/documents/rr2.pdf]. This non-commital number doesn't nearly keep pace with the recent council-approved Regional Context Statement's projected population increase of nearly 70,000 people over that same time period [http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/regional-context-statement.aspx]. Renters in Vancouver account for over half of the population" says Fry.

The Vancouver Green Party recognize that the affordable housing crisis effects us all: with rising homelessness; difficulty in attracting young employees and families; diminished quality of life; hollowed-out communities; longer commutes and impacts on our local economy.  

On election, the Greens will fight for a fair deal for the citizens and neighbourhoods of Vancouver.  

The Green Party does not and will not accept campaign contributions from developers. We will ensure that developers are paying their fair share:  not to the political parties they favour, but to the citizens of Vancouver. 

The Green Party recognizes that the failure of senior governments has exacerbated the housing crisis but does not excuse the City from doing more. We will push for an empowered and robust housing authority that can meet more ambitious goals through a variety of different approaches that aren't wholly reliant on senior levels of government, including: building affordable housing; zoning and land-use tools; vacant residential property audit and tax; progressive taxation increases for speculators and luxury properties; considering local and international best practices that have been proven successful elsewhere. 

The Green Party seek to ensure both affordability and good urban design provide a balance of diverse livable communities with parks, recreation and affordable housing for everyone from families to seniors. We will champion incentives to build less expensively and with less carbon footprint, by supporting lower height wood frame construction.



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commented 2014-08-13 19:53:28 -0700 · Flag
Current govt (all levels) and other tax payers who receive generous/any pensions have no idea about affordability. Many of us live on our life savings. I am (just) a senior and live on my investments in a modest 1-bedroom in the westend. Drawing on my savings only to pay rent, I will be out of funds in 20 years or less, ie in my mid 80s very short of my life expectancy. My mother is currently 102 and going strong. If we are in crisis now what will it look like as we boomers age? Some councilors are flippant about ‘affordability’ and others along with city planners cant/wont here the truth. If the Green Party can create a factual report card mechanism that accounts for action/success of the city governments over the last 2 terms, including senior bureaucrats, according to your noted initiatives, I’ll be voting to support your agenda.