The following is one step in COPE’s policy process. Thank you to the participants of the second Housing Solutions for Vancouver policy "sneak peek" on September 19. The feedback from that session will be incorporated in the coming weeks.

 

 Introduction and Working Definitions 

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COPE recognizes there are at least three dimensions to thecurrent housing crisis in Vancouver.  First, rental housing is both scarceand prohibitively expensive for those who need it – seniors, students, youngpeople, and families.  Second, it is virtually impossible for working class and middle class people who work in Vancouver and their families toafford to purchase a home here.  Third is the appalling spectacle of thousands of people who are homeless, despite the relative wealth of ourcommunity. All of COPE’s policy orientation will be directed to developing the conditions to change the situation so each of these groups can access thehousing they need and deserve.

 

The following is a DRAFT document which comes out of thepolicy discussion COPE hosted in the fall, entitled “Housing Solutions for Vancouver”. Thanks go out to the 60 people who participated as well as the following presenters:

 

Christine Ackermann – West End Residents Association*

Norm Dooley – Riley Park South Cambie Visioning Committee*

Lorraine Copas – SPARC*

David Eby – BC Civil Liberties Association*

Brent Granby – West End Residents Association*

Darren Kitchen – BC Co-operative Housing Association*

Am Johal – Impact on Communities Coalition*

Linus Lam – Architecture for Humanity – Vancouver*

Ian Mass – COPE

Monte Paulsen – the Tyee.ca*

Alvin Singh – COPE

Laura Stannard – Citywide Housing Coalition*

Jean Swanson – Carnegie Community Action Project

Sally Teich — East Fraserlands Committee*

*Organizations are for identification purposes only

 

Please note that this document does not necessarily reflect the views of the presenters. However, notes from the discussion at “Housing Solutions for Vancouver” have been incorporated into the document by COPE’s Policy and Constitution committee. Additional input has been received from COPE’s Council Caucus committee.

 

In accordance with COPE’s commitment to open-source policy, this draft document will be posted on the COPE website and available for anyone who would like to use it. This document is the first step to further discussion and eventual inclusion as part of COPE’s 2011 election platform, subject to approval by the membership at a COPE Policy Conference.

 

This document uses the following working definitions:

 

Social Housing: Refers to subsidized housing for those with no or very low income.

Affordable Rentals: Refers to non-market rentals (which may be rented through normal market processes, but would have restrictions on cost of rentals). “Affordability” in this case is defined by 1/3 of the average Vancouver income spent on housing on a monthly basis.

Market Rentals: Refers to what the market can bear, without involvement from government.

 

Vancouver Neighbourhood Engagement 

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Position Paper Author(s): COPE Policy and Constitution Committee, Participants in Housing Solutions for Vancouver Forum

Position Paper Topic: Housing – Vancouver Neighbourhood Engagement

 

1/            Policy Issue Concerns Affecting City

Currently, the City of Vancouver’s public consultation processes are managed by a variety of city departments, agencies and boards and delivered using different goals, budget levels, tools and methodologies. The efficacy of some of these processes has been put into question by several residents groups in recent years.

 

2/            Where Past Governments Have Failed

The NPA failed on engagement around Eco-Density and the current Vision Vancouver majority is leaving many neighbourhood groups, who have spent countless hours on City Vision plans and other processes, feeling ignored.

 

3/            Proposed COPE Policy Points

 

a.    Expedite and prioritize comprehensive visioning plans for neighbourhoods still waiting for involvement in the planning process.

 

b.    Consult with communities on all large-scale spot rezonings until visioning plans have occurred.

 

c.    Ask that council direct staff to immediately provide dedicated staff familiar withthe city’s planning process to provide specific support to community groups seeking information and clarification around proposed developments and rezonings, and any other area that will help allow community groups to gather information that can help them inform their neighbourhoods about the developments impacting them (as per the COPE motion coming to council on Sept 21, 2010).

 

d.    Ask that council invite all broadly supported community groups and residents’ associations, including CityPlan Vision Committees, to work collaboratively with their dedicated planning staff contacts to reach consensus on alternative planning and zoning processes that would strengthen neighbourhoods and  allow staff and Council to benefit from transparent, grassroots input on planning, policy, land use and community issues (as per the COPE motion coming to council onSept 21, 2010).

 

e.    Ensure that the membership of the agreed upon alternative planning and zoning processes must take into consideration demographic info, the real lack of power of marginalized people, and the need for membership to be elected (as per the COPE motion coming to council on Sept 21, 2010).  

 

f.      Protect the unique character of the DTES as a vibrant low income community by:

 

i.     Ensuring that for every unit of market housing built in the DTES and adjacent neighbourhoods, an equivalent unit of affordable social housing is also constructed.

 

ii.    Continually seeking the input of local organizations like Carnegie Community Action Project (CCAP) to develop a long term vision for the neighbourhood.

 

iii.  Addressing issues of police brutality and gentrification in the community. 

 

g.    Develop and implement a multi-level community plan to integrate immigrants into the community with language skills classes, community centres, public transportation, and by working with a Vancouver City Housing Authority (see below) to provide access to affordable housing.

 

h.    Ensure that negotiations with developers around Community Amenity Contributions (CAC’s) actually meet the needs of the community before approving additional densification or rezonings.

 

i.      Look at the models currently in place in cities like Montreal to explore setting-upan independent, arms-length office of Public Engagement at the City.

 

j.      Make sure that the City actually implements the City’s policies (so the exception isnot the rule) and will negotiate more effectively with developers on behalf ofresidents.

 

 

City Housing Authority 

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Position Paper Author(s): COPE Policy and Constitution Committee, Participants in Housing Solutions for Vancouver Forum

Position Paper Topic: Housing – Vancouver City Housing Authority

 

1/            Policy Issue Concerns Affecting City

Unlike many large urban centres across North America, the City of Vancouver lacks its own housing authority. This leaves the city unable to independently develop and execute comprehensive housing reforms or offer more complex arrangements with developers to encourage the creation of affordable housing. A Vancouver housing authority would be able to consult with communities across the city and develop long term housing plans, set targets,and independently develop mechanisms to reach those targets through an armslength relationship with civic government. This separate relationship would allow the authority to work with non-profits, private foundations, and provincial and federal governments and agencies (like the Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation), to raise funds.   

 

2/            Where Past Governments Have Failed

Vancouver has never had a housing authority and finds itself in a housing crisis for low and middle-income people. Much can be learned from models in Canada, the US (in particular, New York City) and across Europe. While municipalities only receive 8 cents of the tax dollar, they are still anintegral part of the solution. In no way does the establishment of a housing authority take the onus off of the Province or the Federal Government who need to develop a funded national housing program.

 

3/            Proposed COPE Policy Points

COPE will create a Vancouver Housing Authority that will:

 

a.   Set housing development targets and craft longterm plans to reach those targets.

 

b.   Develop a monitoring mechanism to conti
nually evaluate the state of housing affordability in the city.

 

c.    Develop rental rates based on average income brackets (at 1/3 of average income).

 

d.   Over the long term, directly build and maintaina supply of affordable housing in Vancouver, potentially through a development co-operative. 

 

e.   Work with developers to provide mechanisms for affordable housing units within traditional developments – units that would beowned and maintained by the Authority. These mechanisms could include low-costor no cost loans (depending on the amount of affordability offered), or incentives such as fewer or no parking stalls.

 

f.     Provide blanket loans for the refurbishment of existing buildings without affordable components in exchange for the creation and ownership of affordable housing units.

 

g.   Be allowed to work with communities to apply forarea rezoning measures proactively.

 

h.   Work to develop and maintain affordable retailand studio space to provide economic diversity to neighbourhoods and insure creative professionals have a space in our city.

 

i.     Create “affordability impact statements” for all new rezoning developments with a housing component. These statements would betaken into account as part of the overall approval process.

 

j.     Enter into agreements with developers who agree to work towards reaching the Authority’s housing targets by exceeding mandated affordability regulations (such as inclusionary zoning percentages – see“Affordable Rental”). In return, these developers would have access to a suite of benefits including a fast-tracked approval process, fee waivers, and preferred bidder status for all Authority-initiated developments.

 

k.    Develop a senior housing program for active, but fixed income, seniors based on the Performing Arts Lodge (PAL) model and further advocate for senior housing supports by including an office for senior housing. 

 

 Affordable Rental 

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Position Paper Author(s): COPE Policy and Constitution Committee, Participants in Housing Solutions for Vancouver Forum

Position Paper Topic: Housing – Affordable Rental

 

1/            Policy Issue Concerns Affecting City

With continuing population growth, rising costs and a shift in demographics the demand for affordable housing in Vancouver has out paced supply. For far too many residents, home ownership is out of reach and accessing affordable rental housing is a struggle. There is a direct correlation between growing levels of homelessness and the lack of affordable rental housing. Improving housing affordability is also a key factor for the long-term economic viability the whole city.  The City of Vancouver needs to make it a priority to improve access to affordable rental housing.

 

2/            Where Past Governments Have Failed

Over the past 20 years there has been very little new rental housing stock built in the City of Vancouver.

 

3/            Proposed COPE Policy Points

a. Improve the Short Term Incentives for Rental Housing (STIR) program by building in additional incentives for affordable rentals (based on the definition above) in addition to market rentals already include in STIR. This could be done through the use ofcovenants where rentals would need to stay below a certain price level for x number of years.

 

b.    Encourage developers to build rental housing above commercial properties and below low-rise units in low density areas, where allowed for in community visions.

 

c.    Use inclusionary zoning to ensure that affordable rentals or social housing areincluded in any new development, using the following rubric:

 

i)              20% social/affordable housing in buildings with 5 or more units

ii)            30% social/affordable housing in buildings over 6 stories

 

d.    < /span>Commission a study to find which groups in our community are most in need of affordable rental housing. The economic and social impact for these groups and to seek solutions from other metro areas that can be adapted for use in Vancouver.

 

e.    Protect existing rental housing stock by freezing conversion of rental accommodation to strata title condos.

 

f.      Actively press provincial and federal governments to help increase rental housing stockin Vancouver, through a funded national housing program.

 

g.    Push the provincial government to create a more effective and accessible residential tenancy dispute resolution process.

 

h.    Lobby the provincial government to increase subsidies to low income renters

 

 

CO-OP Housing 

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Position Paper Author(s): COPE Policy and Constitution Committee, Participants in Housing Solutions for Vancouver Forum

Position Paper Topic: Housing – Co-op Housing

 

1/            Policy Issue Concerns Affecting City

Co-ops are a crucial part of the affordable housing mix in Vancouver, but their development has been stalled by a combination of federal and provincial policy neglect in combination with inadequate support from theCity. Co-ops need easier access to land and easier access to financing. The City can help in both those areas.

 

2/            Where Past Governments Have Failed

The City hasn’t taken an active role in promoting coops and the CMHC has recently discontinued its subsidy to coops which makes coop creation difficult.

 

3/            Proposed COPE Policy Points

a. As the City has done in the past with developments such as Champlain Heights, the City should offer 99 year leases to co-ops.

 

b. COPE will facilitate different ways for co-ops to own land, such as land trusts, equity sharing arrangements, rent to buy and equity tenure co-ops.

 

c. COPE will provide land lease extensions to help co-ops mortgage for longer periods. This will help free upcapital to enable older co-ops to invest in rehabilitation and maintenance ofaging structures.

 

d. COPE will use the borrowing power of the city to guarantee or provide loans that are as much as two percentage points cheaper than the best rates offered by credit unions or private banks.

 

e. Co-ops will also be offered property tax reductions or deferrals, reduced City fees and density bonuses which reduce costs for co-ops.

 

f. The City needs to avoid requirements and decisions that act as a disincentive to co-op development.

Housing Solutions for Vancouver – DRAFT POLICY