Council pushes forward on delivery of new affordable housing, boost supply of SROs

In one of the final Council meetings before the summer break, City Council took major steps to support the delivery of hundreds of new affordable homes at Arbutus Centre and approved the selection of Catalyst Community Developments Society as the operator for two Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency (VAHA) sites in the Killarney and Mount Pleasant neighbourhoods.

Council also voted in favour of $1.8 million in capital contributions to help improve the liveability, safety, and affordability of single room occupancy (SRO) hotels in the Downtown Eastside.

“We are using every tool we have to increase the supply of affordable homes for people who live and work in neighbourhoods across our city,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Vancouver is leading the region on building rental and social housing and we need to keep pushing to deliver the variety of housing options that Vancouver residents want and need. Council’s recent steps to approve and deliver more housing geared towards Vancouver’s missing middle and for our most vulnerable residents are timely and essential.”

2133 Nanton Avenue and 4189 Yew Street (Arbutus Centre)

Council approved the rezoning of 2133 Nanton Avenue and 4189 Yew Street, providing approximately 628 new homes comprised of strata units, secured and below market rental, and social housing.

Council first approved a rezoning proposal for Arbutus Centre in 2011 that outlined plans for a mid-rise mixed-use development situated over four blocks with retail and office space, and a spectrum of housing types and affordability. In total, 500 homes were proposed with 20 per cent designated as social housing. Currently, blocks A and B are under construction.

The most recent amendments supported by Council will see the addition of a further 25 units of social housing, approximately 12 below market rentals, and 91 secured market rentals. With these additions, Arbutus Centre will provide approximately 628 new homes, with at least half suitable for families.

The new rental homes at Arbutus Centre will be geared towards households with incomes ranging from $30,000 to $80,00 and will be in line with guidelines established by the City as part of the Moderate Income Rental Housing Pilot Program. Rents will start at or below the following rates:

Studio: $950
1 bedroom: $1,200
2 bedroom: $1,600
3 bedroom: $2,000

Residents in the neighbourhood will also enjoy an expanded neighbourhood house and adult day centre. A contribution of $2 million will also be made to the nearby Arbutus Greenway.

Catalyst Community Developments Society selected as operator for VAHA sites

Council has approved Catalyst as the non-profit partner to operate two new Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency (VAHA) buildings that will be targeted towards households with incomes between $20,000 to $100,000 per year. Located at 2221-2235 Main Street and 8501 Boundary Road, these two buildings will provide approximately 264 new homes. Catalyst will finance, build, operate and maintain both buildings.

A total of 145 new homes will be delivered at 2221-2235 Main Street, with more than half geared towards families: 28 studios, 45 one-bedroom, 42 two-bedroom, and 30 three-bedroom units. Of these 145 homes, 44 units will be rented at a maximum of 30 per cent of Housing Income Limits (HILs), ranging from $1,200 for a one-bedroom to $1,700 for a three-bedroom home. The remaining 101 units will range in price from $1,557 for a one-bedroom to $3,029 for a larger three-bedroom unit.

In 2017, Council approved 2221-2235 Main Street as one of the affordable housing projects to be expedited through the City’s new pilot affordable housing priority process. The building is expected to be complete by November 2020.

Additionally, Catalyst will serve as the operator for a second building with 119 new homes located at 8501 Boundary Road. The five-story housing project will be comprised of studios (12), one-bedroom (24), two-bedroom (47), and three-bedroom homes (36) with a range of affordability. A total of 36 units will be rented at a maximum of 30 per cent of HILs, ranging from $1,038 for a studio to $1,700 for a three-bedroom home. The remaining 83 homes will range in price from $1,346 for a studio to $3,029 for a three-bedroom unit.

In 2014, Council approved the creation of VAHA with the mandate to expedite the delivery of diverse affordable housing options within the City of Vancouver. VAHA is the largest developer of affordable housing in Vancouver, working with the City and partners to deliver 2,400 new units of affordable rental housing on 20 City-owned sites.

Funding to boost supply and improve living conditions in SROs

Council approved a total of $1.8 million in capital contributions that will support improvements to the liveability, safety, affordability and security of tenure for people living in SROs in the Downtown Eastside.

The City will provide $1,600,000 to B.C. Housing to support the construction of 80 units of social and supportive housing at 33 West Cordova in Blood Alley Square. All 80 homes will be rented at rates no higher than the shelter component of Income Assistance to tenants who are eligible for either Income Assistance or a combination of basic Old Age Security pension and Guaranteed Income Supplement. The site will also contain 62 secured market rental housing units.

Additionally, Council supported a $200,000 capital contribution that will help support B.C. Housing’s purchase of the Jubilee Rooms and much-needed improvements to the liveability of the building. B.C. Housing purchased the Jubilee Rooms, an 80 room hotel, to house former residents of the Regent following its closure by the City of Vancouver on June 28, 2018.

For more information, please refer to the reports to Council.