Vancouver is growing and is already one of the densest cities in North America, adding over 30,000 new residents over the past five years.
Population growth means increased demand for housing. But much of the new housing that has been built is not suitable nor affordable for average and low-income earners, or for the under- and unemployed. New housing supply has largely catered to higher incomes, which has exacerbated the housing crisis by driving up land values and housing prices to amongst the highest in the world. A hot housing market has resulted in the neglect and tear-down of too much of Vancouver’s older, more affordable housing.
The housing crisis now affects a majority of Vancouverites as evidenced by high housing costs relative to income, low vacancy rates, and a growing number of underhoused and homeless residents.
The housing crisis started when senior governments stopped investing in rental, social and co-op housing in the 1990s. Although they have recently started to step up their investment, Vancouver’s housing needs still far exceed the resources being made available, especially when you consider that the City has been carrying a disproportionate burden to deliver housing to meet the complex needs of the Metro Vancouver region.
The crisis has been made worse by the pandemic, increased construction costs, and rising interest rates, making the delivery of new affordable housing more difficult. The city also shares some blame. Although we’ve approved a record number of housing units in recent years, delivery of new housing has been impacted by overly-cumbersome and slow permitting processes, and lengthy divisive public hearings around neighbourhood change.
Greens believe that housing must be affordable for the people who live and work in Vancouver. There are measures the city can take to protect and increase affordability, and increase the supply and timely delivery of housing to meet people’s needs.
Green Councillors will champion strategies to meet Vancouver’s housing needs that include zoning to enable non-profit-owned and co-op housing to be built quickly without rezonings, ensuring the equitable and strategic distribution of affordable housing across the city, increasing city-developed affordable housing on city-owned lands, and guaranteeing quick permitting timelines and reducing regulatory barriers.
Greens commit to quickly bringing forward the following measures to address our housing crisis:
- Tie affordability to renter income, not market rents. Greens will define ‘affordable rent’ as 30% of median renter household income.
- Protect tenants: against renoviction, demoviction, and displacement and guarantee right of return at affordable rents.
- Ensure tenant safety. Strengthen and more vigorously enforce the Standards of Maintenance Bylaw so that buildings do not dangerously deteriorate.
- Protect affordability over time. Stabilize rents by limiting rent increases for units, not just tenants.
- Guarantee permit timelines to create certainty for builders, reduce costs, and speed-up delivery of housing.
- Implement a simple menu of repeatable building forms, from tiny homes to multifamily buildings, to fast-track permits and reduce costs and building times.
- Streamline re-zoning and development permits by making them happen at same time on select housing.
- Ramp up the development of City-owned housing: acquire more land for housing using right-of-first-refusal and co-locate affordable housing in new public buildings such as libraries, fire halls and community facilities, but excluding park lands.
- Fast-track rapid shelter solutions like tiny home communities on empty lots to provide transitional housing with health supports for people who are unhoused.
- Ensure adequate wrap-around services in Supportive Housing Units by making tenanting, staffing and operational agreements a condition of occupancy permits.
- Deliver community amenities to complement housing. Planning must ensure equity in accessible local amenities like parks and greenspace, child care, transportation, schools, and businesses across the city.
- Increase affordable, co-op and non-market zoning. Expand pre-zoning and use rental-only zoning powers to meet Vancouver residents’ needs, increase the supply of affordable and market rental housing, and dampen speculation.