At the risk of sounding simplistic about a subject in which I am no expert, here’s an interesting game: the following article is from another city in a different country to ours. Sound familiar? Where is it? And could this also apply to Vancouver? I have disguised any names that would identify where this city is, and also substituted equivalent [alternative names] where it could be applied to Vancouver.
“A City For All: Five game-changers for affordable housing in _________.
The game-changers include:
1. Maximise the use of public land. Government holds significant land, whether it's the [Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure or TransLink] holding land next to train stations, or the [Ministry of Health] with land next to hospitals. We have called for the government to audit its entire land-bank in ________ to identify the potential sites for affordable housing initiatives. In London, mayor Boris Johnson has got his transport and housing teams working together to develop housing around rail stations – with a target of 22 per cent affordable and social housing even in Westminster, the very heart of the capital. This will be delivered by the private sector, but the key to this is that the public sector will sell its land to the private sector at less than top dollar so as to achieve better housing outcomes for all. Why not here?
2. Transfer public housing stock to the community housing sector. Community housing providers are offering better outcomes for vulnerable and marginalised people than the government is. Giving them more stock will allow them to expand their offering, and use their stock to leverage more private investment and create more housing options, both for the low-paid and key workers (such as in health, policing and other public services). A double whammy of improved outcomes for vulnerable people and more housing being built for all.
3. Government incentives to trigger private investment into affordable housing. Premier __________ in the election campaign committed to $1 billion new investment in social and affordable housing. Instead of using this to directly build just a small number of new homes, this could form a fund that de-risks investment in the sector and makes the building of affordable housing a safer and more attractive option for investors.
4. Create the conditions in which private-sector developers can deliver a proportion of affordable homes in all developments. The private sector is not opposed to such "inclusionary zoning" in the right conditions. The key is for the developer to know before they buy the land what their obligations will be, so that these can be factored into the purchase price. It is also vital that the public sector doesn't pile up a variety of such planning obligations on the developer. If affordable housing is a priority, don't expect the developer to deliver lots of other public benefits, too. There is a limit to viability of all developments and the equation for the developer needs to be understood.
5. Finally and simply, we call for a new government investment program in existing social housing stock financed by borrowing (our AAA status means we can borrow cheaply) and by attracting matching private-sector funding. Our public housing stock is in danger of falling apart. By improving its quality, we will improve the lives of the people on the margins who rely on it – and make the next step on the housing ladder that much easier.
We think these will be game-changers for sub-market rental opportunities in _________.”
What do you think? Can any/all of these suggestions be applied in any meaningful way to the housing market here in Vancouver?
© Lance Berelowitz