Metro Vancouver supports the measures outlined in Canada’s first National Housing Strategy announced on Wednesday, which will help to address the increasing unaffordability and rising homelessness across the region.
The Strategy, which outlined significant investment for creating and repairing housing units, helps to bolster efforts already underway in the Metro Vancouver region, where the number of affordable dwellings have declined at an estimated rate of 8% per year since 2007. The addition of a Canada Housing Benefit will also provide support to Metro Vancouver families and individuals who are living in low-income properties but still struggling to make ends meet.
“The tandem perils of high rents and low incomes are hitting society’s vulnerable the hardest,” said Mike Clay, Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Housing Committee. “Therefore, the creation of more affordable housing options must be a top priority and Metro Vancouver is doing its part to help increase supply.”
The Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation owns and operates 49 sites, providing 9,400 residents with affordable units throughout the Lower Mainland. Metro Vancouver is working toward increasing its subsidized housing stock through redevelopment of sites such as Heather Place and Kingston Gardens as well as examining its land holdings to explore opportunities to develop more housing.
Metro Vancouver’s work is guided by the Regional Affordable Housing Strategy, which has five goals: to expand the supply and diversity of housing; expand the rental supply and preserve existing stock with redevelopment; meet housing demand estimates for very low to low-income earners; boost the rental housing supply along the Frequent Transit Network; and end homelessness in the region.
“Every municipality throughout Metro Vancouver is using all the tools within their mandate to expedite development and building applications, while offering density bonuses and other incentives to developers to increase the supply of affordable housing,” Clay said. “But I can tell you, as Mayor of Port Moody and a Metro Vancouver Director, local governments simply don’t have the resources to tackle this alone and we feel energized by this federal announcement today.”
Metro Vancouver already works closely with the federal government as the Community Entity for the Homelessness Partnering Strategy. The 2017 Homeless Count found 3,605 people homeless in the region – up 30 per cent from the previous count in 2014. Simply responding to the needs of a homeless person costs taxpayers $55,000 annually, compared with $37,000 per person to house them in a safe environment.
“We have developed a positive and constructive relationship with federal Housing Minister Jean-Yves Duclos and we look forward to our continued work with him and his staff in further implementing this National Housing Strategy,” said Greg Moore, Chair, Metro Vancouver. “The new legislation promotes a human rights-based approach to housing and to secure that right means a collective, community effort.”