In order to get an idea of what Vancouver City Council is up against when it comes to increasing affordable rental apartments in the rich city west side, do not look for longer than the battle that developed over the proposed five-story residential building Kitsilano. The modest development in Western Avenue and Mestna ulica triggered NIMBY's response from neighbors complaining that the building is too big and that the apartments are too small. Notwithstanding the fact that in the pilot program for moderate rental of apartments, 20% of apartments will be affordable for tenants who earn between $ 30,000 and $ 80,000.
The return takes place at the same time as the city considers another housing program, Rental 100, which provides developers with incentives for the construction of rental housing. There are problems in this program that abandon development cost charges in order to encourage greater supply of affordable affordable housing.
For starters, rentals are only available by name.
The rentals in the newly-approved Rental 100 building on West Side range from $ 1,646 for a studio to $ 3,702 for three bedrooms, which are, albeit slightly below market, for many Vancouverites still pre-expensive. It is entirely valid to question whether urban funds should be used to subsidize housing for tenants who are unlikely to need assistance.
The saint Jean Swanson, living on the stock market, was not surprised to kill this program, but her proposal was overcome last week. The world was standing by Sarah Kirby-Yung, who claimed that it would be stupid to end up without having anything better to take her. Without incentives to build rents, many developers would switch to building more expensive condominiums, she argued. After all, the world has returned this issue to staff who are reviewing Vancouver's entire housing strategy.
This is a good time for reflection. Unlike social housing, where the cost of land and construction is financed by the government, housing for middle-income people is usually provided by private developers, sometimes through state incentives. When land prices reach record levels, high subsidies or a density premium should be required when determining affordability for a "missing environment". But now, when the market cools down, more expensive housing becomes more difficult to sell and the construction of rents can become a more attractive option. The rich incentives needed to sweeten the pot developer five years ago may not be necessary anymore. As long as city staff do not complete all the numbers, it's impossible to know. So Mrs Kirby-Yung-go-slow-approach is good.
We all know that Vancouver urgently needs more social housing. There is also a strong demand for stable rental housing at all levels of income, especially for households that earn between $ 30,000 and $ 80,000 annually. So, what is the best approach? Proposals fly fast and furious.
Some say that Vancouver would have to take advantage of the powers recently granted by the provincial government and allowing municipalities to hire. But for New Westminster, the first municipality to try is not going smoothly. Farmers go to court, claiming that it is not fair that the city would devalue the land that they own for many years. While this mess occurs, Vancouver could try a more cautious approach by introducing only rental sites in areas that need to be reserved for higher density in order to avoid developer complaints.
There is also more enthusiasm over a moderate urban rental program, where additional density is given to developers in return for renting 20 percent of apartments at significantly lower market rents. Adviser Adriana Carr has this option. It is better to have buildings where one-fifth of apartments are really affordable from the entire building 100, which offers rent just below market prices, he says. But Kitsilan's example shows that density is not always good. And for small areas where zoning does not allow additional floors, the program is not even feasible at all.
Obviously, there is no simple fix. The best approach can be what we already have: little of this and a little bit of this. It may happen that the Rental 100 program again worked best for some development sites. One thing is certain: if Vancouverites really care about affordable housing, they need to support the consumption of a few tax dollars to get it and learn to love density.
It may sound like an oxymoron, but affordability is costly.