Photo: Robert Ashworth/Flickr

With home prices in Greater Vancouver growing to record levels, the City of Vancouver has made a 10-year plan to tackle the city’s housing affordability crisis.

On Tuesday, City staff presented to council its updated Housing Vancouver Strategy, an initiative launched in September 2016 to address the city’s urgent need for affordable housing in what is one of the nation’s most expensive markets.

The report includes public feedback, collected in spring 2017, surrounding housing issues for renters and owners.

Facing a vacancy rate of only 0.8 per cent in Vancouver last year, an overwhelming 67 per cent of renters are unsure if they will still be living in the city in three to five years, according to the report.

The main driver pushing renters out of the market is affordability, followed by the desire of homeownership and wanting more space.

The findings also revealed that residents want to see more supply of “missing middle” homes, which include mid-rise and low-rise apartments and townhomes.

To meet the urgent demand for affordable housing, the city has set interim 10-year targets to create the “right supply.” According to the City, the “right supply” includes housing that correlates with household income, is set in a preferred location and is spread across different types of housing.

Here are five key strategies that the City wants to pursue to get on the right course and supply the appropriate type of housing by 2026.

1. Meet the needs of diverse households and incomes in the city

Over the next 10 years, the City wants to create 72,000 housing units that align with the incomes of young people, families and seniors. Roughly 50 per cent of homes will cater to households earning less than $80,000 a year. Family housing will also be emphasized as 40 per cent of the new homes will be suitable for families.

2. Create rental housing to meet the greatest need

The demand for homes that are affordable for low- and moderate-income households is the most significant, according to the City. Two-thirds of the 72,000 new homes will be rental homes, including 20,000 purpose-built market rentals. Of the total new homes slated to be built, 54,800 units are needed for low- and moderate-income households just to accommodate the demand and expected growth of these households over the next decade. However, the City expects to only meet 42 per cent of this goal by 2026.

3. Build long-term, below-market rental units

Below-market rental units are designated for households earning $30,000 to $80,000 a year built either by a non-profit group or a private developer. The City wants to create 4,000 of these units which will be secured at below-market rents on a long-term basis and will be housed in 100 per cent rental buildings. This strategy follows the City of Vancouver’s proposal, announced on Sunday, to create about 1,000 below-market rentals in developer-owned rental projects in the Cambie Phase Municipal Town Centre.

4. Collaborate with partners to achieve 10-year new-supply goal

In addition to covering 42 per cent of the 54,800 units needed for low- and moderate-income households by 2026, the City expects to meet an extra 24 per cent of the goal with partner support. However, 34 per cent of the homes are still left remaining. In order to achieve the entire goal, the City says it needs sustained long-term investment and action by the provincial or federal government and partners, including help with rent supplements, poverty reduction and income assistance.

5. Retain and renew existing affordable-rental stock

According to the report, there are about 90,000 existing market and non-market rentals in the city. Even though existing rental units are considered the “right supply,” stock is aging and needs to be renovated or in some cases replaced altogether. To achieve this, the City wants to obtain rent supplements or income assistance from other levels of senior government while also renewing non-profit and co-op leases to maintain better affordability.

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