Yesterday’s Census data showing a growing number of empty and underutilized homes in Vancouver is alarming, but not surprising. We know from BC Hydro data across Vancouver that there are 10,800 year-round empty homes, which last year crystallized the City’s resolve to bring in Canada’s first Empty Homes Tax. Seeing data that shows there may be even more underutilized homes than BC Hydro suggests gives us more reason to aggressively move on the empty homes tax, and other measures that will help bring homes back within reach to residents in all corners of the city.
Affordable Housing and Support for Renters
City Hall’s first public hearing of 2017 saw progress on delivering over 300 new homes in partnership between the City and non-profit sector: Vancouver Masonic Centre (149 new homes), Fair Haven United Church (137 new homes) and Covenant House (75 new shelter spaces). All three projects approved are being developed in partnership with BC Housing.
2016 surpassed all previous years for new rental housing approved by City Council. Preliminary year-end numbers show that more than 1,800 new units were approved this year, far exceeding past years. “Vancouver is leading Metro Vancouver in housing supply, providing more than half of all new rentals in the region,” says Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Vancouver’s economy is booming and as we grow, we want to make sure families have a diversity of housing options to put down roots in the city.
It’s hard to believe it’s almost the end of 2016 – and what a year it’s been! From building thousands of new homes to meeting many of our Greenest City targets, I’m proud of everything we’ve accomplished together this year. We know affordability remains a top concern for many Vancouverites, and we’re struggling with a devastating fentanyl overdose crisis in our city, but we’ve got big plans for at City Hall in 2017. But first, let’s take a moment to celebrate some of the highlights from the past 12 months:
Today City Council approved Vancouver’s 2017 Budget, which offers a broad range of services using a limited range of revenue sources. The 2017 Budget makes a record investment in affordable housing, provides new funding to improve city services like permits and licensing, and adds targeted funding to address the fentanyl overdose crisis that is putting a huge strain on City police and fire services.
Following Vancouver City Council’s decision last month to introduce an Empty Homes Tax, property owners will start receiving notifications by email and mail this week, outlining details of the tax. The City of Vancouver has joined with LandlordBC to offer support and information to the owners of empty and underutilized homes who wish to become landlords.