The City invites you to a Community Dialogue session regarding the 1ST Avenue Temporary Winter Shelter (RSVP required)

We have received the following from the City:

RE: 1648 E. 1ST Avenue Temporary Winter Shelter (Temporary Development Permit Number DE– DE419783)

The City of Vancouver is committed to ensuring that all people have a warm, safe place to sleep during the cold, wet winter months. Over the last seven winters, the City of Vancouver and BC Housing have partnered to open temporary winter shelters so people experiencing homelessness can come inside and get connected to health and housing services.

Several hundred people who were homeless have transitioned through the emergency shelters into permanent housing over the last seven years; however the annual homeless count in March 2015 revealed almost 500 homeless people still remain unsheltered. We ask you to join the City of Vancouver, BC Housing and all of our community partners in offering your support for the Winter Shelter Strategy to help those living on our streets.

A temporary winter shelter was opened at 900 Pacific Street last winter, and will open again this winter on December 1, 2015 and close no later than the end of April, 2016.

We are committed to managing this winter shelter safely and would like to invite you to a Community Dialogue session to learn more about shelter operations and to help integrate the shelter successfully into the community.

WHERE: WISE Hall, 1882 Adanac Street
DATE: December 2, 2015
WHEN: Doors open at 5:30pm. Meeting begins at 6:00pm – 7:30pm

Please RSVP by visiting: http://communitydialoguesessions-dec-2-2015.eventbrite.ca

To speak to a City staff person about our Housing and Homelessness Strategy, please call 604.873.7465 or email housing@vancouver.ca

For more information on the Winter Response Strategy please visit: http://vancouver.ca/people-programs/winter-response-shelter-strategy

Cameron Gray’s Presentation to GWAC

These are notes from Cameron Gray’s presentation to GWAC on ​November 2, 2015.

Metro Region, Vancouver City, and Grandview Woodland Neighbourhood Snapshot

The metro area is currently comprised of 2.5 million people living in 900,000 homes with 1/3 of those renting and 2/3 owning, and a median income of $78,000 for owners and $41,000 for renters.  In the city of Vancouver, 630,000 people live in 270,000 homes with about a 50/50 split of owners and renters and median incomes of $77,000 for owners and $43,000 for renters.   Other than the ratio of renters to owners, affordability is a similar issue across the metro area, with about 30% of renters spending more than 30% of their pre-tax income on rent, and low rental vacancy rates across the region.

Grandview Woodland is considered one of the inner ring of neighbourhoods close to the downtown core (Kits, Fairview, Mt Pleasant, and Strathcona are the others) and along with Marpole and the West End, these neighbourhoods provide most of the city’s rental housing.  GW has 5% of the city’s population.  About 65% of GW residents rent and 35% own. Median incomes are 2/3 of the city’s average at $56,000 for owners and $28,000 for renters.  Rents are slightly more affordable in GW at 87% of the city’s average or $923 per month.  City records show that 47% of renters pay more than 30% of their pre-tax income on rent.

Projected Change

Change is projected for the region, the city, and the neighbourhood over the next 30 years with an influx of 900,000 people and 500,000 homes to the metro area.  Annually, that looks like 30,000 people and 18,000 new homes per year in the metro area.   Vancouver is projected to get 15% of the region’s growth.  What this means for Grandview Woodland has yet to be seen.  

What we do know is that the cost of housing is projected to rise and vacancy rates are projected to remain low.  Currently, it seems that 47% of renters in Grandview Woodland are at core need, meaning their household has to pay more than 30% of its pretax income for a unit of appropriate size and in a reasonable state of repair.  Though, Cameron thought maybe the 47% number was inflated somehow, he did think it was likely that Grandview Woodland has more residents in core need than the city average.  Grandview Woodland faces two significant housing issues:

  • Retention and upgrade of the older rental housing
  • Preservation of affordability for low and modest income renters

Affordability

While affordability may be a relative term, housing policy of the past recognized that many people will never be able to afford to buy their own home.  There are two housing types that must be built to ensure affordability across the income spectrum: purpose built rental and social housing.

Purpose built rental (a building that can only be rented, never converted to condos) was last built in significant numbers in the 1970s and is now aging.  Unconventional rental (rented condo units, houses, secondary suites, etc) take up a greater share of the rental market than in the past, but are less secure because they can be removed readily from the rental stock.  The city has implemented some incentive programs wherein developers can get added density for an agreement to build rental only buildings.  1200 rental units have been started in the last 5 years in the city under these programs (STIR and Rental 100).

Social housing comprises only 6% of Canada’s housing stock.  Meaning that 94% of the housing stock is provided by the market, a relatively high percentage compared with many European countries and with Singapore.  Social housing comprises a range of housing types, including public housing, supportive housing, non-profit rental, and non-profit co-ops.  They can be operated by government, non-profits, and non-profit co-op societies.  Vancouver has 23,000 purpose built social housing units and GW has 9% of the city’s total, or 2100 units.  Grandview Woodland has most of the city’s First Nations’ social housing.  Social housing makes up 14% of the neighbourhood’s total housing stock.  Most of our social housing was built in the 1970s and 1980s.   

Social housing in the neighbourhood faces two primary challenges: expiry of operating agreements and therefore subsidies and renovation and repair of older buildings.  There are currently no long term Federal or Provincial funding programs to build new social housing.  

In addition, there is a severe shortage of 3 and 4 bedroom units for rent, both on the market and in social housing across Vancouver.  Grandview Woodland has 330 3 and 4 bedroom units of social housing.  Across the city, only 2% of the purpose built rental stock is 3 or more bedrooms in size.  We both need to preserve existing rental and social family housing and build more of it.

Role of Market, Role of Government

Both the market and government (mostly government) have a role in addressing Vancouver’s affordability problems.  We probably cannot stop the increasing cost of single family homes, as their supply is diminishing relative to condos.  We can increase the supply of condos and townhouses, but ultimately market housing will not solve the affordability crisis.  Supply is a necessary, but not a sufficient condition for housing affordability because housing is expensive to build, and there are constraints on land, labour, equipment and construction materials supply.  Additionally, lenders tend to become more conservative in a hot market and housing demand can drop suddenly, as in the recession of 1982.  Supply, by contrast, is a slow process.  Therefore, government is essential to providing social housing for households of low and modest income, especially in high growth areas like Vancouver.  The Federal and Provincial governments must take the lead as they have the resources.  The city can take some role in securing land, but the city does not have the power to address the need.  

There remains a question as to where to build additional social housing density.  Cameron asks: “Should older dense neighbourhoods like GW be densified and redeveloped, or should new market housing be built in low density, single family areas or low density suburbs?”  And, “Do we need a growth plan for the whole city that identifies where densification should take place?  Is neighbourhood by neighbourhood planning the best or right way?”  Cameron argued that cities should not use the need for funds as the reason to rezone to higher densities.  Rezoning should instead be a response to the need to accommodate growth.  He argues, we need to plan as a region.  He also argues that senior governments should assist to provide at least 1000 units of purpose built social housing in the region each year for the next 10 years, while 2000 such units per year for the next 20 years would be much closer to the real need.   Half of all social housing units built should be 3 plus bedroom and should be for families. 

Message from the City regarding temporary shelters

From Celine Mauboules, Senior Planner, City of Vancouver Housing Policy and Projects, with some edits:

I wanted to reach out and let you know that the City of Vancouver and BC Housing are partnering to open 4 temporary shelters this winter to ensure homeless people have a safe and warm place to sleep. As in previous years, the shelters will open December 1st and close no later than April 30, 2016. This year’s sites include 1648 E. 1st Avenue (50 beds, operated by RainCity), 900 Pacific Street (50 beds operated by RainCity), and 70 additional beds operated by Salvation Army at their Harbor Light and Anchor of Hope facilities in the DTES.

We are committed to managing the shelters safely and responsibly and have attached the Operations Management Plan for 1648 E. 1st for your information. There will be a community meeting being held later in November. We do hope you will join us.

10th Avenue Corridor Project

The City of Vancouver is gathering feedback on the 10th Avenue Corridor. They ask for feedback to help identify opportunities and challenges to help guide design improvements.

From their page:

A top priority of Transportation 2040 is to upgrade the 10th Avenue Corridor to be more safe, convenient, comfortable, and fun for people of all ages and abilities to walk and cycle.
The 10th Avenue local-street bikeway runs from Victoria Drive to Trafalgar Street, linking many key destinations like Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) and Commercial Drive, plus several busy north-south cycling routes.

Over 500,000 people cycle on 10th Avenue every year, making it one of the busiest east-west bikeways in the city.

This project will be developed and implemented between 2015 and 2017.

Go to the city web page about this project.