What is non-profit or non-market housing and who does it serve?
Non-market housing is typically operated by non-profit societies, co-ops, and government agencies, and is a crucial source of secure affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households. Non-market housing providers have a mandate to create and operate housing at below-market rates over the life of their properties.
Non-market social and co-op housing is intended to house families, seniors, and singles who cannot afford market rental or ownership housing. Affordability can range from very low annual incomes at or below $15K (for singles) and $30K (for families), up to moderate annual incomes below $50K (for singles) and $80K (for families).
Some non-profit developments include a share of market-rate rental or co-op units in order for these housing projects to serve a range of affordability levels and be financially viable. Financial contributions from senior levels of government assist greatly in reducing housing costs in new non-profit and co-op housing.
Why do we need to create and renew non-profit housing?
Non-profit housing is important for low- and moderate income households who cannot afford market-rate rental and ownership housing. With over 50,000 renters in Vancouver paying over 30% of their income in rent, there is significant need for housing that's affordable to low- and moderate incomes. There are approximately 800 non-market properties serving 26,000 households in Vancouver, but significantly more is required to address current and future need.
Nearly 40% of the non-profit housing supply in Vancouver was constructed prior to 1980. As these buildings age, non-profit and co-op owners are facing rising repair costs, many of which exceed rent revenue and existing reserves. In many cases, older buildings may be reaching the end of their lives and need to be replaced with new construction.
Vancouver's housing strategy aims to support the creation of 12,000 new non-market homes by the end of 2028, through contributions of City-owned land; social housing requirements in large developments; and creation and renewal of housing on non-profit and co-op-owned land.
The City, together with senior government partners, can support non-profits and co-ops with renewing their existing buildings, while ensuring affordability for existing and new residents.
Why is the City proposing to allow 6 storey non-profit housing?
As part of our efforts in supporting non-profit societies and co-ops in creating this critical new housing, the City is working to amend zoning rules in neighborhoods across the city. Our goal is to make it easier for non-profit and co-op housing providers to build more affordable housing, and renew or redevelop their existing sites. In a high-cost city like Vancouver, non-profit societies and co-ops often need incentives like fee waivers and additional building height and density to make new housing financially viable.
The proposed amendments would allow the development of non-profit and co-op housing developments up to 6 storeys in RM-4, RM-4N, and RM-3A zoning districts. These zoning districts are typically comprised of three storey apartment buildings. Many of these zones are also covered by recent community plans such as the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan and the Marpole Community Plan that allows modest increases in height and density for social and co-op housing developments through a rezoning process, which includes a public hearing and Council decision.
Why remove the rezoning process for these non-profit developments?
A rezoning is required any time a proposed development is looking for additional height or density beyond what is allowed in existing zoning. A rezoning can add one year or longer to the development process, creating significant additional cost to non-profit applicants, which generally already have limited resources.
The City can remove time and cost for non-profit development applications by allowing greater height and density for these developments within existing zoning rules. Currently, there is significant senior government funding available for non-profit social and co-op housing construction. The zoning changes being considered would also makes it easier for non-profits to access senior government funding, since senior governments typically commit funding to projects that have approved zoning already in place to ensure that their funding goes toward projects that are ready to be built.
The intent of this policy change is to support existing non-profit social and co-op housing providers with renewing their existing sites and expanding the supply of non-market housing to meet current and future need.
What areas of the city will be impacted by this policy change?
The policy change is being considered for non-profit and co-op owned sites in areas of the city currently zoned as RM-4, RM-4N, and RM-3A. Existing zoning rules in these areas already allow condominium and rental apartments, typically at a height of three storeys.
Non-profit and co-op sites make up approximately 2% of all sites in RM-4, RM-4N, and RM-3A zoning districts. On average, we see less than one application for development of non-market housing in these areas annually. We do not expect these development trends to change significantly as a result of the zoning changes being considered.
Why are these policy changes being considered in these areas?
A significant portion of non-profit and co-op housing is located in the RM-3A, RM-4, and RM-4N residential apartment areas of the city. The majority of this housing is located on land owned by non-profits and co-ops.
The majority of these buildings were built in the 1960s-1980s and some are coming to the end of their useful lives. The policy changes being considered will help provide more options for non-profits and co-ops with aging buildings and increasing maintenance and repair costs, who are exploring reinvestment.
I am an existing resident of a non-market building in an area being proposed for this policy change - how could these changes impact me?
If a non-market housing provider decides to redevelop their existing property, the City’s Tenant Relocation and Protection Policy would apply. The City has specific requirements for non-profit housing providers when it comes to resident protection and relocation, including a requirement to identify permanent, stable and affordable housing option for existing residents that minimizes the disruption of relocation. More information on this policy is available at www.vancouver.ca/protecting-tenants.
If we are moving away from a rezoning process for six-storey non-market developments in these areas, what will public notification/engagement look like?
There are still opportunities for public input if the rezoning requirement is removed. These applications would follow the same notification and engagement process as the majority of development in RM-3A, RM-4, and RM-4N areas which are done under existing zoning without a rezoning process.
After a development permit application is received by the City, in most cases, Staff will notify surrounding properties and other neighbourhood groups who may provide comment on a proposal depending on the overall impact to the surrounding area, and nature of any relaxations requested. These comments will be considered by the approving authority in their decision.
Notification may occur by mailing out postcards to the community, requiring the applicant to post signs on the site, or a combination of both methods. Typically, those notified are given about 2 weeks to submit any comments.
More information about the development permit process is available here: https://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/development-permit.aspx.
How will the City be considering the context of each neighborhood with this zoning change?
As part of community consultation, city staff are seeking feedback on opportunities to ensure that this planning change considers community and neighborhood needs and context.
Feedback on this via the Talk Vancouver survey is welcome.
Why is this initiative proceeding ahead of the Vancouver Plan?
This work is one of the City’s priority short-term community recovery actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is being coordinated through the Vancouver Plan as part of the City of Vancouver’s COVID-19 Recovery Program. This action while planning initiative aligns with the City’s long-term objectives of housing affordability by increasing the delivery of affordable housing.
Additionally, significant funding for non-profit social and co-op housing is currently available from senior levels of government. Funding from senior levels of government is important for creating non-market housing, especially housing with greater levels of affordability. With these funding sources available, the City is looking to help our non-profit partners to deliver new non-market housing.