Record rental housing year for Vancouver

Record rental housing year for Vancouver

 

City approves 1,300 new units; issues more than 500 permits for laneway houses

 
 
 
 

Vancouver has set a record for new rental housing in 2015, creating more than half of all new rental units in Metro. In a year-end statement Mayor Gregor Robertson said his administration’s efforts to improve the supply of rental housing through the use of developer incentives has resulted in more than 1,300 new units approved by council in the last 12 months.

Photograph by: Courtesy Sothebys Realty, Vancouver Sun

Vancouver has set a record for new rental housing in 2015, creating more than half of all new rental units in Metro.

In a year-end statement Mayor Gregor Robertson said his administration’s efforts to improve the supply of rental housing through the use of developer incentives has resulted in more than 1,300 new units approved by council in the last 12 months.

The city also issued more than 500 permits for laneway houses in 2015, adding to the 1,500 that have been approved since Robertson’s Vision Vancouver council brought in new construction regulations in 2009. It also issued 529 secondary suite permits this year.

This is the fourth year in a row that Vision has hit its benchmark election pledge of creating 1,000 housing units per year. The figures reflect units approved, but not necessarily built yet.

The city has succeeded in large part because of a strong housing market, fuelled by high land prices and developer activity.

Vision created two developer incentive programs, the Short Term Incentives for Rental and the successor Rental 100 program in which it awarded bonus density to developers in return for designating a certain number of units as rental-only for up to 60 years or the life of the building.

The programs are the only ones of their kind in Metro Vancouver. As a result, rental housing in Vancouver went from five per cent in 2009 to 20 per cent in 2015.

“Providing incentives to get new rental housing built is one tool City Hall can use to generate new homes targeted to people on modest incomes,” Robertson said in a statement Sunday. “Hopefully in the coming year we will see the B.C. and federal governments increase their efforts on affordable housing – because it will take all three levels of government to deliver the amount of affordable housing that our residents need.”

The success in creating market rental units is in stark contrast to the Vision council’s trouble in meeting its long-term housing and homelessness strategy of creating 7,900

new social and supportive units by 2021.

In recent years, the city approved a total of 4,106 units, split roughly half between

social and supportive housing units, thanks to the provision of 14 city sites funded for construction by the province.

But in all of 2015, the city has only approved just 71 units of social

housing, and the high cost of construction isn’t helping.

The Vision council has also failed to meet its most ambitious election pledge, to end street homelessness by 2015. In recent years the city has watched as street homelessness has risen and is now the highest since 2010. Of the 1,746 homeless people recorded in 2015, 488 are living on the street; the rest are in shelters.

jefflee@postmedia.com

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