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Why a city councillor won't support 'gentrifying' projects amid Vancouver housing crisis

Last Updated Sep 13, 2019 at 3:06 pm PDT

Vancouver City Councillor Jean Swanson is seen here in an undated photo. (Source: JeanSwanson.ca)
Summary

Swanson says it would be cheaper to depend solely on social housing

She says she has voted down housing projects that would gentrify neighbourhoods or push up rents

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Vancouver City Councillor Jean Swanson says she’s shot down housing projects that are too costly or because the developer attached would make too much money, despite the ongoing housing crisis.

Swanson says she believes council can help people experiencing homelessness and make more affordable housing available without expensive developments. She has voted down housing projects she believes would gentrify neighbourhoods or push up rents.

“I’ve even put forward motions that some of the units should be covered with vacancy control, where the owner couldn’t raise the rents as much as when a tenant leaves,” she says. “And then what happens is the developer gets up and says that the project would be unviable.”

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Swanson says it’s tough to rely any part of the current real estate market to provide affordable housing.

“I’m interested in getting lots of non-market housing built for lower-income people. The market won’t build housing for middle and low-income people. You have to have about $70,000 or $75,000 in income before you can afford rent for what the market will build.”

Swanson says it would be cheaper to depend solely on social housing since government loans, along with the land, could be less expensive or free. As was the case during her campaign, she wants a source of revenue, like a mansion tax, to help build what she says would be reasonable, affordable housing.

“If we get a lot of social housing, then people will have an alternative to expensive private housing and I think it will bring rents down,” she says.