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Questions remain over Vancouver 'affordable' housing program

Last Updated May 19, 2017 at 11:03 am PDT

A rendition of affordable housing units at Kingsway and Gladstone Street. (Courtesy the City of Vancouver)

Vancouver city council unanimously approves rental housing project under the Rental 100 program

City councillor finds holes in new housing iniative

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – It’s being described in the context of building affordable housing, but does Vancouver’s approval of nearly 200 new rental units, at rates like $1,476 a month for a one bedroom, really fit the definition?

These units were approved unanimously by Vancouver City Council under the Rental 100 program earlier this week, which allows developers to bypass certain fees in exchange for capping rental rates using a formula put forward by city staff.

In this case, studio apartments will go for $1,256 a month, and three bedrooms for $2,372.

NPA councillor George Affleck voted for these projects to go through because he sees a need for more housing, but has an issue with the program. “I’ve always had a challenge with the Rental 100 program and how Vision Vancouver defines affordable,” says Affleck. “In this case, these units are only affordable to the first renter. After that person moves out, the units become market rental and very expensive likely.”

Affleck feels the program is too generous to developers because they avoid paying initial fees without having to make any long-term commitment to keeping rental units at an affordable rate.

According to the city, several other steps have been taken to address the housing crisis in Vancouver. They include approving a record number of new rental homes, implementing Canada’s first Empty Homes Tax, regulating short-term rentals and more.