Differences between COPE’s strong Housing Authority and Vision’s weak “housing agency”


Late Wednesday night Vancouver City Council received a staff report on what will become a City-run “one-stop shop” for developers. There are crucial differences between COPE’s Housing Authority plan and Vision’s “Housing Agency.”

In April of this year, COPE released a 98-page report entitled, “Ending the Housing Crisis: International Best Practices for Creating a Vancouver Housing Authority,” which analyzed case studies from around the world and proposed key principles for a uniquely Vancouver approach to a municipal housing authority.

COPE’s Housing Authority fundamentally differs from the Vision housing agency in these ways:

1. Developer powers: COPE’s Housing Authority will build housing. Vision’s housing agency is not empowered to build housing.

2. Public profits: Any profits from COPE’s Housing Authority will go to the city, while Vision’s housing agency relies on private developers and allows them to keep profits.

3. Public ownership: COPE’s Housing Authority will own the housing it builds. Under Vision’s housing agency the city will not own the housing, rather the buildings will be privately owned.

4. Democratic governance: COPE’s Housing Authority will be democratically elected and represent tenants and community members, drawing on Toronto’s experience. Vision’s housing agency will be governed by a board of real estate industry experts.

5. Social housing: COPE’s Housing Authority will build social housing to end homelessness. Vision’s Housing Agency plan excludes social housing – it is all market housing.

6. Progressive funding sources: Part of COPE’s Housing Authority budget for operation and building will come from a dedicated tax on private developers and a luxury housing tax for houses valued at more than $1.5 million. Vision’s Housing Agency budget will come from general revenue and provides only for an executive board and expert consultants.

7. No corporate tax breaks: COPE’s Housing Authority will not be governed by real estate industry interests nor will it give tax breaks to real estate corporations, unlike Vision’s Housing Agency.

8. Lobbying: COPE’s Housing Authority will aggressively lobby and pressure other levels of government to support social housing. In Stockholm and New York City, tenants of the Housing Authority buildings work together to run the building and lobby for their interested. Vision’s housing agency does not plan to mobilize tenants or lobby government.

COPE members adopt a policy for a Housing Authority with teeth

At yesterday’s COPE Annual General Meeting, the membership approved the party’s 2014 policy platform that highlights the need for a municipal Housing Authority to build real affordable and social housing.

To end homelessness, COPE’s Housing Authority program will build 800 units of city-owned social housing annually. The city’s 2005 Homeless Action Plan called for 800 units of social housing each year for ten years, but Vision and the NPA abandoned this goal.

“Thousands of Vancouver residents are living in deplorable housing conditions, especially poor people in single-room hotels, seniors, single mothers, indigenous people, and many migrants,” said Charlene Sayo, a new voice on COPE’s Executive. “COPE’s Housing Authority will build real social and affordable housing that remains publicly-owned.” COPE’s Housing Authority plan outlines annual income to fund city-owned social housing:

Luxury Housing Tax – $35 million
Levies and contributions from private developers – $50 million
Housing Authority profits – $50 million
Property Endowment Fund revenues – $10 million
Lobbying / other sources – $25 million
“People who have benefited from Vancouver’s high housing prices can afford to pay a little more to help end homelessness, and build a Vancouver everyone can afford,” said Sayo. COPE’s Luxury Housing Tax will not affect homes valued below $1.5 million. A property valued at $2 million be taxed only an extra 42 dollars per month.

This week, City Council will be voting on Vision’s plan for a Housing Agency that builds no social housing and puts private real estate corporations in charge. Under Vision’s plan, the city will not build housing, but as Councilor Meggs told Metro News it will be a “one-stop shop” for private real estate corporations to get approval for projects to reduce so-called red tape. This sounds like the NPA’s free-market solution of removing red tape for developers to override community processes.

“COPE’s Housing Authority will be democratically governed by residents, not developers. It will be guided by the needs of tenants and elected representatives, and will build relationships with communities and First Nations,” said Sayo. “Vision’s Housing Agency will be run by real estate industry interests, who caused the problem in the first place.”

COPE to elect new Executive board and adopt its 2014 platform this Sunday

COPE to elect new Executive board and adopt its 2014 platform this Sunday

On Sunday, July 6th, 2014, the Coalition of Progressive Electors will hold its Annual General Meeting. Members will vote on eleven positions for the Executive Board including co-chairs, adopt the 2014 election platform for the municipal election, and ratify the five new Equity positions.

Date: July 6th, 2014
Location: Holy Trinity Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral
Address: 154 East 10th Avenue (on 10th Avenue between Main Street and Quebec)
Registration: 1:00pm
Call to order: 2:00pm

Press Release: at 10pm (PST) on Sunday, July 6th, a one-page overview of the highlights of the AGM, including election results, will be released.

Summer Solstice Garden Party

Summer Solstice Garden Party

COPE celebrated the Summer Solstice with a garden party! We heard from teacher Tina Anderson on the current education crisis, as well as Michael O’Neill on the power of school boards to stand up to unfair cuts.

Missed the opportunity to donate? Think about starting a monthly donation. A stable and predictable source of income during elections mean COPE can plan its spending more efficiently and maximize our resources to take City Hall back from corporations!