One of the interesting parts of the discussion at the SRA last night was the mention of the “inclusionary zoning” used in the DTES. Inclusionary zoning requires that 20% of all new development be set aside for “affordable” housing. I will propose an extension of this policy across the City.
There is, of course, the controversial question of what “affordable” housing means in this case: should it be welfare shelter rate, or Housing Income Limit (HIL) rate, or market rate. Vision has quite deliberately been tried to blur these distinctions, but skewing toward “market” rate (which, in the West End at least, they have determined to be $1,450 a month for a tiny studio apartment!)
There has also been much talk among the chattering classes about whether low income housing should be concentrated in certain areas (definitely the policy for the last few decades) or whether it is better to spread these units around the entire City. Part of what was clear from the discussion last night was the strength of the love for community in DTES, and I certainly am no proponent of moving people around against their will. However, I suspect that past policies have obliged people (perhaps against their will) to move there and I would like to give some the chance of moving elsewhere.
In addition, I am a strong believer that the entire City needs to take responsibility for solving the low income housing crisis. This is not a problem that only certain neighbourhoods need to solve, but one for Vancouver as a whole. Therefore, I would suggest:
- that all new rental developments for 20 units and more anywhere in the City be required to include a minimum of 20% genuinely affordable housing. For this purpose, I would propose that at least 5% be for shelter rate rentals, and the balance for HIL rate rentals.
- that all new non-rental condo developments be charged an additional non-negotiable CAC equivalent to the cost of building low-income rental housing equal to 20% of the number of units being built in the development; and that these funds be used exclusively for the building of low-income housing. Perhaps such developers could be offered the opportunity to designate 20% of their units for shelter rate and/or HIL rentals.
This idea needs more work, of course, but I put this out for debate. It would, I believe, swiftly add to the genuinely affordable housing stock throughout the City and thus alleviate both housing and neighbourhood crises.