Monday, November 28, 2016

Massive gap between affordable housing supply and demand requires a regional response

The lack of affordable housing in Metro Vancouver is one of the most pressing challenges facing our region. It impacts everything from the increasing number of people who are experiencing homelessness in our communities, to the future economic prosperity of our region.

As an example, for households that made under $50,000 per year between 2011 and 2014, there was an unmet need for 9,000 long-term rental units that would be considered affordable. This number is only going to grow.

The follow chart is an estimate of the number of housing units that will be needed in the region over the next decade. Most of this need will not be able to be met by the market rental or ownership models.

Metro Vancouver housing demand by household income. Estimated net additional rental housing from 2016 to 2026.

Earlier this year, I posted about Metro Vancouver’s Regional Housing Strategy. Strategies are important to have, and having a path towards implementing strategies is critical. In order to implement its Regional Housing Strategy, Metro Vancouver has developed an implementation plan with the following key points:

  1. Undertake a strategic assessment of Metro Vancouver affordable housing role(s)
  2. Establish MVHC-specific and Metro Vancouver-supported affordable rental housing targets
  3. Review and update evaluation criteria for selecting sites for development/redevelopment of affordable rental housing
  4. Prepare a comprehensive asset management plan for MVHC housing complexes
  5. Identify and prepare MVHC Board policies related to affordable rental housing

The Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation (MVHC) is the regional-district owned housing provider. BC Housing provides funding for housing optioning including shelters, supportive housing, subsidized housing, and rental assistance. The federal government also provides funding for reducing homelessness and supporting affordable housing options. The feds are currently in the midst of creating a new National Housing Strategy.

Both the province and the feds look to partners to build and operate the housing options that they support. While municipalities do and can work directly with the province and federal government to get affordable housing options in their community, it results in an uneven distribution of affordable housing within our region.

MVHC may be in the best position to advocate for, building, and/or operate affordable housing options in our region. It has the scale and operationally history to support affordable housing options creation throughout Metro Vancouver. Homelessness and the lack of affordable housing is a regional issue, and it should be addressed at a regional level.

Our region is at its best when we work together to improve the lives of people within Metro Vancouver. I’m hopefully that our municipalities will come together to advocate for, and obtain funding to, build and operate affordable housing options regionally.

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