Background and resources
We know the existing housing system does not work for many Vancouver residents and that these vulnerabilities in our system were further exposed and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. These vulnerabilities include:
- Persistent homelessness – as of the 2020 Homeless Count, completed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, over 2,000 people in Vancouver are without a home. These residents often have unsafe living conditions and limited shelter options. The results of the Count continue to highlight the long-term impacts of systemic racism and colonialism, particularly on Indigenous and Black people and how these impacts contribute to homelessness, poverty and exclusion. While the reasons people fall into homelessness can be complex, the pathway out of homelessness is straight forward – people need access to income, housing, community, connection and support services.
- Renter instability - Vancouver is a city of renters with 53% of households renting and 76% of net new households renting. However, we’ve heard that renters often feel they have few choices of where in the city and in what type of housing they are able to live. With not enough secure purpose-built rental building options, some renters live in less secure secondary rental, such as rented condos and basement suites. Many renters also fear being displaced due to evictions, rising rents, lack of affordable housing choices or redevelopment pressures. These pressures have been exacerbated for many, by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- High demand for social and secured rental housing – With very high costs of ownership and rents rising faster than local incomes, there is an increased demand for social and co-op housing, as well as affordable rental housing. There are over 4,000 people on the waitlist for social housing in the City of Vancouver and over one third of renter households spend more than 30% of their income on rent. Historically, new housing in the City has not been the “Right Supply” – homes our residents need and can afford. Changes to Federal programs in the 1960s and 1970s meant few purpose-built rental and social housing buildings have been built since then, up until about five years ago. As a result, most of today’s affordable housing stock is both in high demand and in need of renewal.
We know that we can’t go back to “business as usual” once the COVID-19 pandemic ends. We need to address these significant inequities in our housing system and move toward a more resilient future. Our housing system is complex, and is influenced by municipal, Provincial and Federal powers and funding. We need to work with our partners, including other levels of government, the community housing sector, as well as the private sector, to address these systemic vulnerabilities.
Here are some resources from the City and its partners, which give further background and research, as well as plans and policies in place.
City of Vancouver resources
- Housing Vancouver Strategy (2017) – https://vancouver.ca/people-programs/housing-vancouver-strategy.aspx
- Homeless Count (2020) - https://vancouver.ca/people-programs/homeless-count.aspx
- SRO Revitalization Action Plan (2017) - https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/sro-revitalization-action-plan.pdf
- Homelessness and low-income resources (2020) - https://vancouver.ca/people-programs/homeless-and-low-income-resources.aspx
- Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency (2020) - https://vaha.ca/
- Canada’s National Housing Strategy (2017), Government of Canada - https://www.placetocallhome.ca/what-is-the-strategy
- Homes for BC: A 30-point plan for housing affordability in British Columbia (2018), Province of British Columbia - https://www.bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2018/homesbc/2018_homes_for_bc.pdf
- BC’s Affordable Housing Plan (2017) – BC Rental Housing Coalition https://housingcentral.ca/SITES/HousingCentral/Advocacy/BC_s_Affordable_Housing_Plan/HousingCentral/Affordable_Rental_Housing_Plan.aspx?hkey=e2b2a8fc-486b-4a61-bd71-513f23c2990c
- BC Housing Research Centre (2020), BC Housing - https://www.bchousing.org/research-centre