RELEASE: Housing Agency building 400 new affordable rental homes

City of Vancouver contributing four sites worth $50 million; homes will be rented below market rate

The City of Vancouver’s Affordable Housing Agency (VAHA) is taking steps to build 400 new affordable homes on four City-owned sites, worth $50 million. These sites are the first four of the 20 City-owned sites offered to senior levels of government to build affordable homes in partnership with VAHA.

These new developments will offer a mix of housing to meet the needs of working residents, seniors and families at low to moderate incomes. Rental rates for all homes will be slightly below market rate, though deeper affordability will be achieved if VAHA can secure financial support through the senior levels of government and other partnerships.

family-homeVAHA is moving forward with the development of these sites to address the need for affordable rental housing in Vancouver; rental vacancy rates are at 0.6%, one of the lowest in Canada. Since 2011, the City has enabled over 12,000 units of affordable housing by working with partners and creating new policies.

“Developing these first four sites is a solid first step for the City’s Affordable Housing Agency. These 400 new affordable rental homes are desperately needed and can be made even more affordable with the support of senior governments,” says Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Finding quality, affordable rental homes demenagement in Vancouver – especially for people on low and average incomes – remains a significant challenge as the vacancy rate hovers near zero. At City Hall we’ll keep doing everything we can to tackle our housing affordability crisis head on, and pursue all options and tools available to build more affordable rental housing.”

“Our vision at the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency is to find innovative ways to build and create affordable housing in our communities and to enhance our vibrant neighbourhoods,” says Mukhtar Latif, Chief Housing Officer and CEO of the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency. “The City has committed resources to progress the planning of these projects and we will be seeking to work with funding partners to develop these sites as a first step in meeting our goal of 2500 new homes in the next five years.”

To develop these sites VAHA released a request for qualifications in November 2015 to the development community. The successful project partners are:

  • Ventana Construction Corporation/Dys Architecture/City Spaces Consulting
  • VanMar Constructors/CPA Development Consultants/GBL Architects
  • Marcon Developments/Catalyst Community Developments

Key Highlights of each site include:

  • 177 West Pender Street: Up to 100 homes for people on low to moderate incomes as part of the commitment to deliver the objectives of the Downtown Eastside Community Plan.
    (Ventana Construction Corporation/Dys Architecture/City Spaces Consulting)
  • 3510 Fraser Street: Approximately 60 homes for seniors, with the potential for a senior center on the ground floor.
    (Ventana Construction Corporation/Dys Architecture/City Spaces Consulting)
  • 2221 Main Street: Approximately 130 rental homes for working families and singles.
    (Marcon Developments/Catalyst Community Developments)
  • 55-79 and 87-115 Southwest Marine Drive: approximately 100 rental homes, with a target of 50 per cent of the units allocated to families.
    (VanMar Constructors/CPA Development Consultants/GBL Architects)

The final number of homes on each site is subject to approval through the development permit and rezoning process. Final confirmation of funding partners and estimated projected timelines for completion of the four sites will be announced in fall 2016. As part of the development permit and rezoning process, the City will undertake community consultation for all four sites.

These new affordable rental homes follow on other steps the City is taking to address affordability, including:

  • Implementing a tax on empty homes;
  • Pursuing modular housing on city-owned sites for temporary affordable housing;
  • Increasing family home requirements in new housing projects;
  • Providing four City land sites to enable Vancouver’s first Community Land Trust