How can we reach our 2020
Greenest City Targets?

How can we reach our 2020 Greenest City targets?

Create more affordable family housing within easy walking/biking/transit radius of downtown.

We need more family housing (i.e. 3-bedroom units that real people with under-$100K incomes can afford) within easy walking/biking/transit radius of downtown. Studies have shown that 20 minutes is the maximum work commute that people can withstand before they start to accrue major daily stress. And coincidentally, letting people live ... See Moreclose to their jobs leads to massive reduction in auto emissions.

How to create affordable housing?

- Force developers to offer a mandatory number of units beyond the tiny 1-bedroom and 1+den units that currently dominate the market.
- Take over apartment buildings and convert them to co-ops.
- Create a relatively easy-to-follow process that educates non-home-owners and allows them to come together and create their own co-ops.

We'll never be a green city if we can't find ways to prevent middle-income families from being squeezed out to the suburbs. The waiting lists for co-ops in Vancouver are massive. The need and willingness are both there. We families don't need or expect huge spaces, but right now there's almost nothing in this city for us.

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    Tammy Everts shared this idea  ·   ·  Flag idea as inappropriate…  ·  Admin →
    under review  ·  AdminGreenest City Planning Team (Admin, CG2020) responded  · 

    A critical challenge for Vancouver. Laneway housing, STIR, the 20% Inclusionary Zoning Policy, and other programs and policies are intended to help increase housing affordability— see http://vancouver.ca/housing. The draft Greenest City plan recognizes the importance of affordability and will review additional strategies, e.g. unbundled parking.

    17 comments

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      • Tammy Everts commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        "If Vancouver cannot house the people with families who work in the City but instead they must leave to afford to buy a home in one of the surrounding municipalities, Vancouver has just transferred its GHG impact outside its boundaries. But that impact should be accredited to Vancouver and it cannot claim to be the Greenest City without being able to house its workers."

        Exactly! I couldn't agree more, Rosemary.

      • Rosemary commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        This is absolutely critical to Vancouver becoming the Greenest City! If Vancouver cannot house the people with families who work in the City but instead they must leave to afford to buy a home in one of the surrounding municipalities, Vancouver has just transferred its GHG impact outside its boundaries. But that impact should be accredited to Vancouver and it cannot claim to be the Greenest City without being able to house its workers.

        There are so many effective ways to build affordable housing for moderate income people/families that Vancouver should consider e.g. the staircase model from the UK where a prospective owner buys the share of equity that they can afford and government (and sometimes another private sector partner) own the other portion of the equity. Over time, the owner buys more of the equity, essentially climbing a staircase to full home ownership.

        We need to look to new models to provide affordable family housing! If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten.

      • Steven Forth commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Thanks Pavel - that is certainly the right question, and I look forward to your thoughts. Some ideas

        1. Separate ownership of parking from ownership of house (this is done in Tokyo, parts of Boston, etc.). This allows people downtown to buy a place to live without having to pay for a car. People who need parking can buy the parking separately.
        2. Encourage basement suites and greater density.
        3. Allow for longer term mortgages
        4. Greater density
        5. More, many more, housing co-ops
        6. Explore other alternate ownership models in addition to co-ops
        7. Review tax system to see if there are hidden subsidies that lead to housing speculation

        Other ideas?

      • Pavel commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Please propose a way to create affordable housing with respect to property rights and fair market values - without "forcing" anyone into anything.

      • Tammy Everts commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        @separate me: I'm kind of surprised, too. It makes me wonder if many of the people on these forums are child-free and therefore are able to find decent housing without too much trouble. Once you have children, you quickly become aware of the severe shortage of affordable family homes in this city.

      • Steven Forth commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Affordable housing, learning, transit, food ... all have to be a core part of a green Vancouver strategy. But what are the concrete steps we can take on this? Will more density help? Do we need to encourage more housing co-ops? Can we separate home ownership from parking space ownership, and stop requiring developers to put in parking? How do we make Vancouver an affordable place to live?

      • separate me commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I can't belive more people haven't voted for this!
        I guess everyone is a millionare out there looking to live in a greener Vancouver.
        Vancouver will become less livable, diverse and interesting if there is limited housing for the majority of people who live or want to live in Vancouver.

      • Steven Forth commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I would like my children and grandchildren to be able to live in walking distance if they choose. Hard to do at today's prices. What are the best policies to achieve this?

      • Tammy Everts commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Thanks, Steven. And agreed. It would be a tragic irony if we collectively created this beautiful, livable city, and then couldn't afford to live in it.

      • Steven Forth commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I will reallocate my votes to vote this up. The city will only reallybe sustainable if people can afford to live in it. It is critical to cultural creativity as well - artists, new immigrants, start-up companies and their underpaid workforces all need to be close to each other in a critical mass to create a vibrant and sustainable culture. We need a lot of creative thinking and new ideas here, and we need to design markets that work in favor of afforable housing and not against it.

      • Tammy Everts commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        @ripley: I meant to include that suggestion as well, but forgot and the system doesn't let you edit your original post. But I totally agree with you. For example, we need to rezone to allow for more infill housing, because right now the restrictions on laneway houses are prohibitive. And we need to allow these houses to be somewhat more than 700 square feet.

        @Cecily: Understood. Rents in this city are crazy across the board, but at least there are a lot of one-bedroom units out there. Trying to even *find* -- much less afford -- a three-bedroom unit in this city is next to impossible. That's what my suggestion is trying to address. But I do think that there's room in the scope of planning for affordable housing to include child-free families.

      • Cecily Walker commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        It isn't only families with children who find it hard to afford living in the city. Some child-free families also find city living to be cost-prohibitive.

      • Kate commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        Yes, one-bedrooms are myopic planning in support of real-estate flippers rather than families and workers or students sharing to save on costs. Few of us can afford to buy or rent a one bedroom until midlife, then family and work-wise it's too late to just buy that so we move to the 'burbs.

      • ripley commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        I feel like you're ignoring the most obvious way to accomplish this goal: stop limiting the housing supply through draconian zoning bylaws. Affordable housing won't exist until we stop pretending that single-family homes are an efficient use of land, anywhere.

      • Manda commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        We really need more housing that can accomodate families in the city, otherwise couples will keep moving to the burbs when they have kids. These tiny 1 bedroom units that are built everywhere don't accomodate the changing demographics of the city.

      • Jennifer Aikman commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        YES please, to more 3-bedrooms in Vancouver! We're on multiple waiting lists for multiple co-ops and have been for several years. It's depressing how many families show up to co-op orientations hoping for a 3-bedroom unit...

      • Ian Wojtowicz commented  ·   ·  Flag as inappropriate

        If taking over whole buildings doesn't fly, perhaps a percentage of every new development should be set aside as city-owned rent-controlled spaces, much like how developers need to spend a percentage on public park space and public art...

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