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Record new rental units in Vancouver

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Finding a place to rent in Vancouver may become a little bit easier.

New rental housing stats in the city show the biggest increase in rental property building permits in recent years.

More than 1,000 units were approved in 2012; that’s three times the number in the two previous years.

Construction was approved on 186 units in a rental tower in the city’s West End, while an additional 614 dwellings will spring up near BC Place. The city hopes that injection of new space will help boost a below-average vacancy rate, which dips below one per cent in certain areas.

A vacancy rate of three to four per cent is considered normal or healthy, according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

“As these units come into the housing supply, they will become cheaper over time compared to the overall stock and they’re going to be rental forever unlike condo units,” said Councillor Geoff Meggs.

Meggs believes the approvals, which come after no new rentals were okayed in both 2008 and 2009, will help the affordable housing situation as well, despite the fact that no cost assurance conditions were put on the new units.

“City taxpayers don’t have the capacity to start reducing rent or subsidizing land costs,” explains Meggs.

A record 350 laneway housing permits were also issued but there are no guarantees in place to ensure they will function as rental properties.

Not everyone is congratulating the city for the new rental housing, though.

Jean Swanson with the Carnegie Community Action Project says the new rentals aren’t targeting people dependent on welfare and pension rates.

“We’re really concerned about people who live below the poverty line because there have been virtually no new social housing announcements since 2007. We desperately need more social housing,” says Swanson.

“The city’s priority is for people that aren’t poor. Those people who are poor can’t afford those rental units. The people who are the poorest can’t afford those apartments. For example, a single person on welfare gets $610 a month in total for everything. So probably the rents in these new places are more than $610 altogether, probably $900 or $1,000,” adds Swanson.

She’s calling on all governments to do more to put a roof over the heads of those on low incomes, a group she says represents¬† up about a quarter of people in the city.